Dave Taylor:
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Software Publishers Association talk about the billions lost to piracy and illegal copies, but their argument is based on a false premise: that every single person who bootlegs or pirates would otherwise have purchased the original.

I just don’t think that’s true. In fact, I think that the vast majority of people who have pirate or bootleg copies of music, movies, software or books would never have spent a dime on the product if that was the only option.

Realize as I write this that I have visited peer to peer (P2P) network repositories and found free-to-download PDFs of books I’ve written, so I’m not a stranger to the production and artistic side of this equation either. But really, given the predominant demographic of p2p users and given the substantially greater convenience of a print book (and that most of my books are about $20 or less anyway), being in the p2p space doesn’t bother me too much.

First off, obviously, I don’t believe that the denizens of the p2p world would be buying my book at the bookstore if they couldn’t get a free download, but there’s also a visibility issue too: of the dozens and dozens of Unix books available, for example, I’ve more than once found my Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours the only ebook or only tech ebook out of thousands of files. At that point, it’s almost just a savvy marketing strategy: anyone who reads through more than 20-30 pages of my book will realize that for not much more than the cost of printing it out and having 350+ loose pages, they could just go and buy the actual book at Amazon.

More here.