They're big-time dealers in stolen goods, says Danuta Keane - the goods being our writing, and the living we need to earn from it. Of course each of us has the right to give our work away for free if we want to. But that's our decision, and no one is entitled to make it for us.
Keane is a much-respected commentator on the worlds of publishing and journalism, and when she decides to research something, she does her homework:
Contrary to popular belief, illegal file-sharing sites are not shoestring operations run by penniless kids. They require vast servers to host stolen content. They also require huge bandwidth to handle the illegal downloads. Even start-ups – let’s call them small town dealers – need computer equipment, software and broadband services that cost considerable amounts of money. To pay for their operations, traffickers use two revenue models: paid-for premium subscriptions that enable faster downloading; and display advertising – often supplied through Google Ads – which appear as content downloads.
The revenue raised is eye-watering... [including] a Rolls-Royce Phantom (list price £250,000 to £300,000) bearing the number plate ‘GOD’.
Not surprisingly, this apparent bravura display ... is not among propaganda spouted when the Open Rights Movement – as the loosely affiliated group of internet activists and online corporate interests who backed the Wiki blackout style themselves – lobbies governments, and that includes our own and the EU. Instead, they prefer to put about the myth that traditional creative businesses – film companies, book publishers and record company executives – are the greedy exploiters in this market.
Keane's full article, researched for the ALCS news, is here, and it includes details of what can be done to help the fight by anyone who doesn't want a literary culture filled only by writers who can afford to work for free because they've inherited, married or acquired money by some other means.