Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Author Encourages Users to Pirate His Book 237

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the listen-to-the-content-creator dept.
mariushm writes "Peter Cooper, the author of Beginning Ruby, breaks down how he gets paid for the book, including the advance and royalties, giving a nice clean explanation of how authors get paid for their books. He also describes the negotiations over the second edition of the book, in which he begged his publisher, Apress, to offer the ebook version for free, believing (strongly) that it would promote sales of the paper book. He even notes that the original version's ebook barely had noteworthy sales, so it seemed reasonable to offer up the ebook for free to drive more attention. No dice. Even though Apress has done that with other similar titles, it wouldn't agree. As he retains the copyright for the actual text, he encourages people to buy the book and create an online version of it without covers, contents table and indexes, promising not to enforce his copyright over the new work."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Author Encourages Users to Pirate His Book

Comments Filter:
  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:28PM (#29771963) Homepage

    I have dealt quite a bit with copyright law when creating FairSoftware's virtual company [fairsoftware.net] license. I'm afraid the author is incorrect when he says that he retains copyright, therefore he can authorize people to download his book for free. He most likely granted the publisher an exclusive license. The whole point of the word exclusive is to say that although you are the author, you can't give the text to anyone else anymore, once you signed the book deal.

    That being said, this is a great blog post for everyone who ever wondered how tech book deals work. He is making about $2 per sale of a $40 book! So there's a great debate about whether to go with an editor which will take a much lower cut, but will also not be so good at promoting the book. At least someone is making money from publishing content related to open source technology :-)

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:31PM (#29771999) Homepage Journal

      He most likely granted the publisher an exclusive license.

      Was it an exclusive license for a couple years, or was it an exclusive license for the duration of the copyright?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ...why doesn't he offer a download himself? That way everybody who downloads it at least comes to his web site and there is no "what if he turns around on his promise not to enforce copyright" doubt in the air.

        • His agreement with the publisher almost certainly does prohibit distributing the book himself.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by paeanblack (191171)

            His agreement with the publisher almost certainly does prohibit distributing the book himself.

            While a geek might see "distribution without the right to do so" and "encouraging others to distribute without the right to do so" as entirely different actions, it's unlikely that a judge will see it that way. Judges and geeks tend to lump things in different buckets.

            "No, no, no, your honor, I didn't violate that restraining order. I only encouraged other people to harass my ex. And...and...and...one of them wro

    • by noidentity (188756) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:31PM (#29772011)
      Surely the publisher provided an editor to clean up the manuscript before publication, thus putting the copyright clearly in the hands of someone besides the author alone.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027)

        "Surely the publisher provided an editor to clean up the manuscript before publication, thus putting the copyright clearly in the hands of someone besides the author alone."

        So does that mean Microsoft gets a piece of my copyright when I run the MS Word Spell Checker?

        I'm pretty sure the editor is "work for hire" any way you look at it.

        • by yincrash (854885)
          The editor is hired by the publisher, so the editor's work under the publisher is copyrighted by the publisher.
          • by Aranykai (1053846)

            Editing someone else's work hardly qualifies for copyright. Its doesn't meet the creativity requirements.

    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:34PM (#29772039)

      He's not giving people a license to it (which would conflict with the publisher's exclusive license); he's just promising not to sue.

      Also, why would he use a publisher that gave him only $2 per sale? You'd think that royalties would be driven up as competing publishers offer more per sale.. Why doesn't a publisher just offer 40% royalties or something and annihilate the competition?

      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:50PM (#29772217) Homepage

        Also, why would he use a publisher that gave him only $2 per sale? You'd think that royalties would be driven up as competing publishers offer more per sale..

        What on earth would lead you to think so? There's only so many sales to be had, and a fairly hard (though rising with inflation over time) cap on what customers will pay for a given class of book - and the publishers revenue comes out of the difference.
         
         

        Why doesn't a publisher just offer 40% royalties or something and annihilate the competition?

        Because publishers can do math.

        • by EvilIdler (21087) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:33PM (#29772663)

          These guys can't do math at all: http://www.pragprog.com/write-for-us [pragprog.com]

          50%? Oh noes! They'll go bankrupt by the end of the year!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Despite their apparent ability to "do math," you can't read. That's 50% of the profit from the book. So take the price the book is sold to retailers (not the one on the back of the book) and subtract the printing costs for a low-volume technical [text]book and you don't end up with much. That said yes, 50% of the profit is better than a competitor at 10%, however that is a far cry from 40% of the total retail price of the book.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nametaken (610866)

        Clearly this isn't the case, or he was rejected elsewhere. My guess is that it's standard practice, and that there's a reason for it. Probably that most of the money on that $40 book gets divided up between printing, distributing and promoting the book... all the labor, risk, fronted cash, etc. of others that goes into that book. The content of the book is more like a big start on the way to a successful product.

        Otherwise someone else would have done what you mentioned and annihilated all competition. W

        • by mariushm (1022195) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:24PM (#29772571)

          From 40$ only 18$ goes to the publisher, the rest is amazon's money, library's money, wasted on damaged books when shipped, on returns and so on.

          From that 18$ publisher pays the 10% royalty (but only after they get back their $6000 advance), the printing company, the editors that formatted the books and then they have their profit.

          I find it more ridiculous that Apress sells his ebook for 23.99$ when the printing costs, shipping and so on are non-existent. Basically, ebook brings Apress more profit than printed books at this point.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by manekineko2 (1052430)

            If a regular $40 book gives $18 to the publisher, with the rest being eaten up by distributors, an ebook for $23.99 doesn't sound incredibly out of line. $6 for the infrastructure and customer support functions. Just because it's electronic doesn't mean that it's free and you'll never have to hire someone to deal with complaining customers.

            • by mariushm (1022195)

              It was actually $27.99.

              If it costs the publisher 18$ for the printed book, you can remove the 3-4$ printing cost, 2$ for shipping you're left with 12 bucks. Now add up 40-50% profit for the company selling the books online and you're back at 18$.
              Nowhere near 28$ they sell it for. It's just greed.

              Well, anyway... this whole discussion is pointless, publishers will ask whatever they feel customers will pay, not the fair price.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            More profit per unit, perhaps, but does e-books bring in more revenue than their paper counter parts?

      • Risk (Score:4, Insightful)

        by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:23PM (#29772545)
        Publishers that offer higher rates of royalties tend to do either less promotion or only take on authors who they know have a good record of producing popular books. You'd expect Stephen King for instance to be able to negotiate a better deal than John Smith on his debut novel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fooslacker (961470)

        Why doesn't a publisher just offer 40% royalties or something and annihilate the competition?

        Because they don't have to. They have "industry standard practices" that effectively let them act like a trust without technically being a trust. It's a form of implicitly limiting labor costs. As publishing becomes more and more frictionless and major publishers less and less valuable they'll get smaller, control less, and authors will earn more as they become more competitive. As long as they control the entry point into a market however they can pretty much use these types of practices.

      • He's not giving people a license to it (which would conflict with the publisher's exclusive license); he's just promising not to sue.

        The only power a copyright confers is a right to sue. Therefore, a license is nothing more than a promise not to sue. So it appears that he is offering a license.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cjonslashdot (904508)

        As someone who has published three books through traditional publishers, and who has many colleagues who have also published, I can tell you that for technical books 5% is pretty much standard. Actually, it's 10% of the actual sale price to the publisher, which is usually half of the cover price. The other half is the markup that bookstores and other distributors get. In the technical realm, you would have to be a true superstar to get any terms better than that.

        Also, the posters here who say that the autho

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Well I suppose the questions are whether there's a legal distinction between licensing the right to copy the book and refusing to sue for infringement, and whether in his exclusive license he retains the right to refuse to sue.

      It sounds like he's not distributing the book himself and not technically licensing anyone else to do so, but claiming that insofar as he has the right to sue someone or not-sue them for infringement, he won't sue. It's a minor distinction, but IANAL and I have no idea whether there

      • by Vengie (533896) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:57PM (#29772289)
        IAAL. 17 U.S.C. 501(b) authorizes an exclusive licensee to sue for inringement. he has granted an exclusive license. thus he might not want to sue you, but his publisher can. Look through the Silvers v. Sony Pictures case -- unless his contract specifically deals with the right to sue for infringement....his publisher can.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bws111 (1216812)
          Also, he could very well wind up being sued be the publisher for breach of contract. Thus, he has screwed several people: himself, and anyone the publisher decides to go after.
      • Greg Craven [realclimate.org] has taken much the same stance with his book about the climate change debate. He doesn't expect he'll ever make anything over his advance, and he'd like more people to read it. This is the guy who got started by putting up a series of videos [youtube.com] on YouTube on the subject.

    • That being said, this is a great blog post for everyone who ever wondered how tech book deals work. He is making about $2 per sale of a $40 book!

      For reference - that's 5%, essentially 5% profit. In most places in the business world, that would be considered screamingly successful. Doubly so since he's making an ongoing profit for work he did only once and isn't responsible for the ongoing work of marketing and stocking.

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:54PM (#29772255) Journal

        For reference - that's 5%, essentially 5% profit. In most places in the business world, that would be considered screamingly successful. Doubly so since he's making an ongoing profit for work he did only once and isn't responsible for the ongoing work of marketing and stocking.

        1. 5% is not a screaming success. My employer has had quarters where the net margin was *only* 18% and these led to managerial changes due to the failure to meet expectations.

        2. You can't say he's making 5% profit. He's making some unknown amount of income (based upon to-date and future sales), in exchange for the time spent, his knowledge, and his writing ability.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bzipitidoo (647217)

          Unknown is right. Very few understand what percentage he really got. The author himself is not among them.

          It's not that the royalty statements are excessively complicated though they could certainly be simpler, it's that they don't provide enough info. Can't check their math. And then what's this Licensed Rights? Reserve? Why are the statements so unclear? I don't believe for a minute that it's necessary. One possible reason for the obscurity is real easy to come up with: Hollywood accounting. C

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by davebaum (653977)

            Back when I wrote a book, three different publishers sent me contracts and the one from Apress was the most author-friendly by far. The royalty rates were higher, and the terms limiting the exclusive rights were written with authors in mind. All in all I found it to be an equitable arrangement - they were taking a risk by fronting the production costs and wanted a chance at profit. I was compensated more than fairly for the work I did.

            The accounting never confused me. The percentage is paid on revenue (

        • For reference - that's 5%, essentially 5% profit. In most places in the business world, that would be considered screamingly successful. Doubly so since he's making an ongoing profit for work he did only once and isn't responsible for the ongoing work of marketing and stocking.

          1. 5% is not a screaming success. My employer has had quarters where the net margin was *only* 18% and these led to managerial changes due to the failure to meet expectations.

          Then you were in one of the few areas of the business world

    • by dissy (172727) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:01PM (#29772321)

      He most likely granted the publisher an exclusive license.

      On one hand, the author himself, who was there for the signing of the contract, states he did not give them an exclusive license on the text, but states he didn't create the covers, toc, or index thus can't give permission to copy that.

      On the other hand, someone on slashdot states what the author _most likely_ did, in their overly well informed opinion.

      Well that settles it!

      Actually I sorta like that idea.
      Personally, I think he most likely never even spoke to a book publisher, and not only wants his book to be free, but will pay us to read it! I'm sure that is the case.

      *Goes off to download an ebook and wait for my check in the mail*

      • by alain94040 (785132) * on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:42PM (#29772747) Homepage

        This is straight from the author's blog:

        My contract also states that I have exclusively allowed Apress to publish and reproduce my content

        So I'd say there is a pretty good chance that the contract contains an exclusivity clause. This wasn't pure /. speculation.

      • by FrangoAssado (561740) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:52PM (#29772867)

        On one hand, the author himself, who was there for the signing of the contract, states he did not give them an exclusive license on the text, but states he didn't create the covers, toc, or index thus can't give permission to copy that.

        That's not what the author stated. He actually wrote:

        My contract also states that I have exclusively allowed Apress to publish and reproduce my content.

        He then went on about how he "suspects" that you can make a PDF without the cover, TOC and index without infringing any of the publisher's rights.

        Tim O'Reilly, who (I'd guess) is very experienced with these kinds of contracts, wrote this in the comments of his post:

        I’d be very careful with your assumptions here. “Owning the copyright” doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means. I haven’t seen the language in the APress contract, but I suspect it says something to the effect that you grant them the exclusive right to publish, distribute, and sell (etc.) the book for the duration of the copyright. If this is so, the ONLY thing that you get from still owning the copyright is the ability to reacquire the rights in the event APress goes out of business.

        So while we can't know without seeing the author's contract, it's reasonable to assume that what alain94040 wrote above is closer to the truth than what the author "suspects".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      I have dealt quite a bit with copyright law when creating FairSoftware's virtual company [fairsoftware.net] license. I'm afraid the author is incorrect when he says that he retains copyright, therefore he can authorize people to download his book for free. He most likely granted the publisher an exclusive license.

      Did you read HIS contract? If not, you are only guessing. He may actually have negotiated and retained rights..

      sure its doubtful, but its his contact, not yours.

    • by mrjb (547783)

      He most likely granted the publisher an exclusive license.

      Depending on your goals, that may or may not be a smart move. In any case, it makes you lose control over the book you published depending on the duration of the license. If your incentive is to get the word out rather than the money, it's probably smarter to keep ownership of your book by self-publishing -- you can then do as you please, all up to the point of giving away your book for free, no strings attached. (By the way, feel free to download m

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Not correct, IMVHO.

      His exclusive license likely has nothing to do with his right to grant a covenant not to enforce his copyright against people who digitize his books for him.

      He might not be able to sell the text elsewhere, however, as long as he still has title to the copyright itself nothing stops him from looking the other way if someone decides to scan it themselves.

      If he signed over his rights to litigate for copyright infringement, then he's screwed.

    • by Wildclaw (15718) on Friday October 16, 2009 @07:28PM (#29774235)

      $2 per sale of a $40 book

      And it keeps repeating on and on in the IP industry. Wasn't there a Slashdot article not long ago that EA was spending three times as much on marketing as they did on developer costs. The stories about artists getting screwed is numerous. And Hollywood has even given name to an accounting type used for screwing other people out of money. And it isn't just the copyright industries. Pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than they on research. And the list goes on.

      And there are actually people that believe that intellectual property laws are good for society? The truth is that there is an incredible waste going on in distribution, middle man skimming, advertising, manufacturing, warehousing and so on. What starts out as $2 of information becomes $40 in the store. And this is the standard, not the exception. Even when sold via the Internet via digital distribution, it still becomes over $20.

      The sad truth is that todays society could easily support a 10 hour work week if we got rid of all the inefficiencies and wasted job efforts. But it will not happen in the current society, because neither side (socialists nor capitalists) are interested in getting rid of such inefficiencies. In fact, if there is one thing that everyone can agree on, it would be that people should work and work some more "to make a better society".

      • by ajlisows (768780)

        A 10 hour work week for what type of workers? The guy that works the drill press all day isn't going to suddenly have 30 hours with nothing to do because information is shared. Customer Service people aren't suddenly going to stop getting support calls. The guys driving trucks aren't suddenly going to be able to reach their destination 4 times as fast because information is free. Teachers will not suddenly be teaching 1/4 fewer classes. Police men aren't going to have no criminals to arrest. I think t

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:28PM (#29771969) Journal
    From his post:

    There are even links on Twitter to torrents like this. I am happy for you to pirate my book, but I’m NOT A LAWYER, and I can’t guarantee what Apress would do about it – so you’d be doing it off your own back! So, uhm, don’t pirate it?

    So he's covered his own ass and recognized that Apress will most likely not see things his way. Now, to do what the summary suggests is confusing to me. I don't know his contract with Apress but I must question why, if he is so upset with Apress, he isn't just releasing an HTML version of his work online. Surely he must have the source documents he wrote to write the book, correct? Then why doesn't he simply make his own HTML plain text version and host it.

    The answer is painfully simple. He's reached an agreement with Apress for digital distribution rights making them the only possible channel for distribution. I wouldn't be surprised if that was a default contract for them. Regardless, downloading the Apress version on RapidShare is copyright violation with Apress, regardless of what the author says. There's no question of that.

    If I've misjudged Peter Cooper's character, I truly am sorry but he is either willfully or through ignorance putting you at risk with these suggestions. Do not follow through.

    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:36PM (#29772067)

      Yeah he is putting his readers at risk because they'll be breaking the law by distributing the book. I think he's just mad at Apress and wants to stick it to the man, or he still wants the promotion that a free ebook would provide. Also there's all the free publicity from slashdot..

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pavon (30274)

        Yeah, as alain's post [slashdot.org] points out, he admits himself that he granted Apress an exclusive contract.

        It really rubs me the wrong way when authors/artists encourage people to pirate their material. You are asking me to do something illegal and take on risk of being sued, but you aren't willing to put it up online yourself? You are feeling rebellious because you are having second thoughts about the contract that you signed, but you want me to be the one that rebels? How about no. Pirating your material is no diff

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Threni (635302)

          Best solution for him would be to ask people to provide email addresses - privately - then email them the book from another account and delete the receiver's email address afterwards. Apress would have no idea how many he'd sent out, and the people asking for them would expose themselves to little risk, especially if they too used a disposable account.

        • by glop (181086)

          It looks like there are Ruby books on scribd.com actually. It's probably one way to do what you just said.
          And now I am waiting for other people to comment and list all the other ways that I did not know about ;-)

      • I think he's just mad at Apress and wants to stick it to the man

        I'd say Apress has an air-tight case for breach of contract - and quite possibly something like conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.

        I would love to be the fly on the wall when Cooper tries to cut a deal for his next book. I can't imagine anyone who would touch it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:37PM (#29772071)
      Then why doesn't he simply make his own HTML plain text version and host it.

      Let me know when you figure out how to make HTML plain text.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:05PM (#29772365)
        View->Source

        OK, done.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Let me know when you figure out how to make HTML plain text.

        Well, that's obvious! Any power user knows that it's as simple as:

        1. Take a screenshot of a page rendered in the browser using Print Screen.

        2. Paste it into MSPaint and print it out.

        3. Scan and OCR it (don't forget to press the "Scan to OCR" button on your scanner, and not "Scan to File"!).

        4. Copy/paste the generated text as needed.

        5. Repeat 1-4 for all other pages.

        ~

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      All it is is a promise not to sue. He owns the text of the book, but not the additional stuff Apress did - say, the covers, front matter (including the Table of Contents) and the back matter (indices, etc), which would mean that you're pirating his work, and none of Apress'.

      Those full version torrents/downloads do include stuff the Apress owns the copyright for, and whom Apress might sue.

    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      It could actually be bad for him too. By giving permission for people to download the books, he could be seen as giving away rights that aren't his to give away and be in breach of contract.
      • Technically he's not giving permission to pirates, he's just promising not to sue over it. IANAL, but I'm pretty sure there's a difference. (However, it's still unclear whether Apress can do anything about it; that would depend on whether he gave them an exclusive license to publish the book or not, and that's separate from who owns the copyright.)

        • would exclusive publishing rights allow them to persue 'ordinary' copyright violations (like shoving the whole book into a photocopier)? Or only those where someone else was publishing those violating copies? Because if it was the latter I don't se how it would be possible for themn to realistically persue anyone over an anonymous PDF file just doing the rounds on the intertubes

          • You're question is essentially the same as this one:

            Would exclusive publishing rights allow them to pursue ordinary copyright violations (like burning a copy of the CD), or only those where someone were selling those violating copied CDs? It doesn't seem possible for them to realistically pursue anyone over an anonymous mp3 file just doing the rounds on the intertubes.

            I'll leave it to you to make the connection.

            • Oh wow.

              That first sentence originally read "you're asking the same question as this:"

              I should have proofread that one more time.

    • by mariushm (1022195)

      No, I think what he means is that you can in theory buy the printed book, literally tear and remove the covers, the index pages, and the contents table and you're left with pages that have only his text, which he owns.

      Now use a scanner to scan the pages, OCR them, and offer it for free. He says he won't sue you for the text he wrote. As there's nothing in your ebook version that belongs to Apress, you'd have no problems... again, in theory.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plcurechax (247883)

      He's reached an agreement with Apress for digital distribution rights making them the only possible channel for distribution. I wouldn't be surprised if that was a default contract for them. Regardless, downloading the Apress version on RapidShare is copyright violation with Apress, regardless of what the author says. There's no question of that.

      As the Slashdot blurb states, the author retains copyright of his text, so thus the copyright violations are "against" him, regardless of what the publisher claims. As far as digital distribution, that is a contract (i.e.civil law, not copyright which is often now criminal law in the US) between those two parties. As long as Apress and the author don't break there respective terms as per the agreement (i.e. they don't publish his work without paying him and he doesn't give permission another party to publis

      • by bws111 (1216812)
        The author retains copyright of his text, he does not own copyright on the published book. The book contains other work (editing, typesetting, artwork, etc) which has it's own copyright, owned by the publisher. So downloading the Apress version (which is what the GP said) is indeed a violation of the publishers copyright. If he were offering only the original manuscript, then the publisher would not have a copyright claim against the downloader (unless he gave the publisher the right to sue for him). In
  • "Steal this book" (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Steal this book"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steal_This_Book

  • put an order form for a self-published book on your site. the self-publishing business is well-established and straightforward

    end of story

    no need for a publisher and all that legal cruft

    you'll make more money than going the publisher route, even with all the barnes and noble exposure. people are getting information about programming via internet searches, not browsing barnes and noble. hell, people are getting information about composting, travelling to ecuador, whooping cough, and everything else online. y

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope he enjoyed the advances and royalties 'cause he won't be getting another book deal. Doofus

  • by tcopeland (32225) <.moc.dnalepoceelsamoht. .ta. .mot.> on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:50PM (#29772211) Homepage

    ...on the post is pretty interesting. Here's an excerpt:

    If you were to self-publish, you will find that you might print, say, 1000 copies at $8 each, or 2000 copies at maybe $6 each. (It could be more. I'm not as close to book printing prices as I used to be.) So you're out $8-$12000 up front. So lets say you've guessed exactly right how many copies you will sell. You printed 1000 copies for $8K, and sold all 1000 for $30K to $40K (depending on where you set the price.) You made $22K, or maybe even $32K, versus the $19K you earned with APress.

    He goes on to discuss the hassle of shipping, returns, credit card processing, storing the books, etc. All true, all good stuff.

    For what it's worth, going through a small local publisher with my JavaCC book [generating...javacc.com] has worked out pretty well. We did a much smaller print run - 350 books - so the storage wasn't as much of a hassle. Definitely a niche market, though.

  • Torrent? (Score:4, Funny)

    by chord.wav (599850) on Friday October 16, 2009 @03:58PM (#29772305) Journal
    Torrent to the indexed version please? Thanks
  • Is it really "piracy" if the rights-holder gives you permission to reproduce his work?
    • He's not giving permission. He's just saying he won't sue. Whether that makes any difference is anyone's guess.

    • by koreaman (835838)

      No, but Apress didn't give you permission to reproduce the book, so this is irrelevant.

  • by Moridineas (213502) on Friday October 16, 2009 @04:42PM (#29772753) Journal

    I've worked for several publishers over the years, and even in cases where the author keeps the copyright, the publishers is usually granted the enforcement rights, and other portions of the rights. For instance, one would not expect an author to be forced to defend his copyright in court.

    I looked at a contract that was executed several years ago:

    Check the italicized portion:

    1.0:called the work, hereby grants and assigns to the Publisher the exclusive world publishing rights of the work including the sole rights to translations, selections, expansions, abridgments, as well as all electronic production and reproduction thereof, and the Publisher agrees and has the exclusive rights to publish or reproduce the work during the continuance of the copyright ...

    9.0: That the Author agrees not to publish--or permit to be published without the written consent of the Publisher--any other book on the same subject written or edited by the Author that will injure the market made for this book, nor to publish or cause to be published any other edition of this book revised, corrected, abridged or otherwise without the written consent of the Publisher.

    In the case of every publisher I have ever worked with (and from dealing with hundreds of authors), this has literally NEVER been an issue -- the author requests rights back from the publisher, and he or she gets them 99% of the time. Literally, I don't think I've ever heard of a case of a publisher not following the author's wishes (and I've dealt with a number of authors who were switching publishers with a revised/second/third/fourth/etc edition of their book).

    Speaking as a someone with experience in the small academic publishing world, publishers take big risks with signing authors and issuing advances. If the books never materialize, there's actually very little most publishers can do. ie, you have to eat the 10k or whatever, as any law suit would be expensive and uncertain. Thus the extreme legalese.

    A few points from the article:

    The retail price (RRP) of Beginning Ruby is $40 (give or take a penny) but my publisher, Apress, makes a varying amount per book – I don’t know why.

    Very simple -- publishers sell books at widely ranging discounts, from a low of about 20% to a single bookstore, to maybe 40% to wholesalers, to maybe 60% to amazon. Yeah, so for that $40 list price on Amazon, Amazon probably only had to pay < $20! (Yeah, publishing really isn't as highly marked up by the publishers as it might seem!!)

    (About an advance> The only advantage to you is that if your book bombs and doesn’t even sell enough copies to pay back the advance, you (usually) don’t have to give the publisher back a penny.

    I've never heard of authors having to pay their advances back if their books bomb or don't materialize. I'm sure it happens with bigger publishers and bigger advances, but most of the time the publisher can't do much.

    On the royalty statements above, you should see references to “Licensed Rights.” My first editor told me that these are payments you receive for foreign versions of your book, for inclusion on systems like O’Reilly Safari, and “similar.” I’ve asked a couple of times now but I’ve never found out what these amounts are specifically for and I’m not aware of any translated editions of Beginning Ruby.

    Often times these fees are for translations or rights to use small segments. For instance if a professor wants to use one chapter but not the whole book, that might be a small licensing fee. Or if somebody wanted to translate the book into Macedonian, we might charge them $500, which is split 50/50 between the publisher and the author.

    Now, I wasn’t particularly

  • A friend of mine writes well-received books, but he gets a pittance from his publishers. For every 1000 sold, he gets £1000. Very generous when you consider that his books sell for about £16 a piece! I decided to write my own book, as an electronic version; this way I got 100% of the profits but sales were very slow; for a limited time I allowed a free download of my ebook. Then, thanks to the Espresso book machine, I was able to offer a paperback version of my book, but the cost per book was
  • I've long been intrigued by the idea of giving the eBook version of my book "Elevator Pitch Essentials" away (no-DRM PDF), but have been reluctant to since I'm actually making decent money via eBook sales.

    Maybe part of the difference is that I self published and don't have huge distribution. My books is only available through US Amazon.com and my web site. In a year, I have sold about 80 eBook copies (at $10), mostly overseas or to people who needed it RIGHT NOW (e.g. due to presentations tomorrow). eBook
  • pirating. Way to and to the downloading material is a crime.

  • i don't have a ship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AP31R0N (723649) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:06PM (#29773015)

    i can't pirate his book unless i get a boat, find a boat carry his books and then proceed to commit armed robbery.

    i think i'd rather just download it, which would be copyright infringement (unless i have permission).

  • Dive Into Python 3 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nlawalker (804108) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:26PM (#29773191)

    Just wanted to point out that, coincidentally, Mark Pilgrim's excellent Dive Into Python 3 just became available in print form today: http://diveintopython3.org/ [diveintopython3.org]. He published Dive Into Python under the GNU Free Documentation license and made it available in a number of formats, and Dive Into Python 3 is available under a Creative Commons license and downloadable in HTML and PDF form. Full copies of both texts can be browsed online. Both are excellent. Interestingly, both were published by Apress.

  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Friday October 16, 2009 @05:32PM (#29773247) Homepage Journal

    I wrote the piece linked here and the summary on Slashdot is laughably wrong. All the cool Hacker News and Reddit people who read the story.. you're awesome and you really added to the discussion and didn't come out with nonsense saying I'm actively encouraging people to break the law (which, if whoever wrote the summary could comprehend English, is not what I said - I raised a potential method of circumvention as a thought experiment.. "I suspect" does not mean "I think you must").

    So if Slashdotters want to be the first to spout nonsense and misquotes on the same day my first kid was born (I'm just getting a few hours sleep after being up a gazillion hours ;-)) then congratulations - some of you succeeded admirably. All the traffic to the site is going to somewhere you can donate to a good cause and earn some actual karma.

    • by mea37 (1201159) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:02PM (#29773525)

      "All the traffic to the site is going to somewhere you can donate to a good cause and earn some actual karma."

      Uh, yeah... and so now those of us who read the nonsense comments and thought "I'd like to see for myself what he really said" can't actually get to your original blog post.

      Well played, genius boy.

      Can't speak for anyone else, of course, but as for me... when someone hides his original words I'm not inclined to trust his claim that they were misrepresented.

    • by maxfresh (1435479) on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:17PM (#29773639)
      So, you are unhappy with Slashdot's summary and the resulting comments, but instead of emailing the "editors", or writing a post like this one, correcting the inaccuracies as you perceive them, you redirected your site to the American Cancer Society, sending them hits from people who have no intention of going there, thereby costing them wasted bandwidth, and risking slashdotting their servers? Do you think that your pique, or your new-father status justifies that? Maybe your lack of sleep explains it, but it is all in very poor taste, and reflects very poor judgment.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2009 @06:46PM (#29773915)

      Your "solution" is to redirect all slashdot readers elsewhere? Then you're being portrayed accurately here.

    • by MtlDty (711230) on Friday October 16, 2009 @07:13PM (#29774121)
      If the summary is laughably wrong, then you might also want to try and fix the Google cache [74.125.93.132].

      To quote your good self : "My reaction to seeing other Apress books getting the free, electronic version treatment is: Im good with you pirating my book! Now, of course, I cant actively participate in pirating my book but, heck, its around on plenty of free e-book sites and on RapidShare. There are even links on Twitter to torrents like this. I am happy for you to pirate my book, but Im NOT A LAWYER, and I cant guarantee what Apress would do about it so youd be doing it off your own back! So, uhm, dont pirate it? The only condition, of course, if you do is that if you like the book and you think a print copy would be swell to own, please buy one even if its just for someone you know who wants to learn to program!"

      Redirecting your page is like closing the barn door once the horse has bolted unfortunately.

      Oh, and congrats on your first child :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Dan541 (1032000)

      You sir, are a dick head.

    • by davecb (6526) *

      Actually this is very similar to what O'Reilly did with Using Samba, and it was very successful.

      I'm surprised some of the more au courant slashdotters's didn't notice (;-))

      Drop me a line and we can compare notes.

      --dave

  • This is a good argument for the various on-demand publishers. FWIW, I've got a few APress books, and several books on Ruby. I don't recall *EVER* seeing an ad for his book. So I don't see any reason he should be expected to pay ANYTHING for marketing. I've bought books from LuLu and they did a good job of binding, selling, and shipping. At a *MUCH* lower price in overhead. And I believe the author keeps ALL rights.

    Once upon a time there was a reasonable argument for the publishing houses. That time i

  • The following comment I'm going to make as someone who's had no experience dealing with publishers or publishing books. But anyway my theory is that to achieve what the author wanted to achieve, he doesn't actually have to offer the free ebook. There's other ways to do it.

    There's a couple of reasons people would want an ebook:

    • They want a reference copy to easily, digitally search through
    • They don't like wasting paper / don't want to pay for full printed copy

    Reference copy is easily distributed along with th

  • The author states he tried to get the publisher to allow free reproduction of electronic copies. This indicates that he signed over his rights of electronic reproduction (e-rights) to them, and is aware he did so. He may retain ownership over the text, but he has signed over the right to reproduce it in this form.

    This has been standard practice in publishing for some time. Unless one is big enough to dictate one's own contracts, one ends up signing a contract with things in it favorable to the publisher in

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. -- R. Buckminster Fuller

Working...