Ticked Off


#1

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m really pissed off. I don’t pay attention to
what goes on on the #ruby-talk IRC channel these days all that much,
but something happened this afternoon that thoroughly pissed me off.

[0515/16.53] hatezilla: seriously, pick it up. if you’re iffy, get
on emule and search
for “ruby for rails” … there’s tons of pdfs floating around if you
know where to look

I consider David Black a friend of mine. I am seriously pissed off
that some pissant little freak would advocate this action at all. I
was similarly annoyed that people reacted as badly to Dave T.'s
announcement that the Rails 2nd Edition would be the same price. These
people have done a lot for the Ruby community.

They deserve your financial support. Don’t be a pissant thief. Even
temporarily. There are “sample chapters” for a reason.

-austin


#2

On May 15, 2006, at 5:06 PM, Austin Z. wrote:

that some pissant little freak would advocate this action at all. I
* Alternate: removed_email_address@domain.invalid

What really boggles my mind about this is, yes a book is easier and
maybe you can’t afford it, but its not like there aren’t docs. You
even have the source code.


#3

Philip G.spun has an innovative solution to this problem: http://
philip.greenspun.com/copyright/hall-of-shame.html

He is a (among other things) a photographer and web guru. His
solution was an online hall of shame where he would post who has
stolen his pictures.

Perhaps something similar might be in order for this if real names or
net handles can be identified? I don’t have David Black’s book, but
I do have several other PragProg books & these have a “Prepared
for …” at the bottom – any idea whether the shared copies have
this removed?

There really isn’t a technical solution to prevent this from
happening, but public shaming might work…

Matt

On 15 May , 2006, at 5:06 PM, Austin Z. wrote:

that some pissant little freak would advocate this action at all. I
* Alternate: removed_email_address@domain.invalid


Matt Long removed_email_address@domain.invalid /
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
University of South Florida, CRASAR
GnuPG public key: http://www.csee.usf.edu/~mtlong/public_key.html

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.
– Stanislaw Lem


#4

On 15-May-06, at 7:03 PM, Elliot T. wrote:

But is every case of piracy deserving of the same great scorn?

Yes.

I realise this may be a tangential issue, but if someone can’t
afford a book and is not going to buy it either way, whom has he
harmed by downloading it?

That’s like saying that you’re stuck with someone, and you’re not
going to share your food either way, so what harm is there in killing
the person now instead of letting him starve to death. That’s just a
silly way of thinking.


#5

On May 15, 2006, at 4:07 PM, Jeremy T. wrote:

That’s like saying that you’re stuck with someone, and you’re not
going to share your food either way, so what harm is there in
killing the person now instead of letting him starve to death.
That’s just a silly way of thinking.

The harm there is that he would die sooner than he would if he were
left un-murdered. He loses that amount of his life. But the thing is,
who is harmed in the hypothetical case I described?

– Elliot T.


#6

On May 15, 2006, at 3:26 PM, Logan C. wrote:

know where to look

What really boggles my mind about this is, yes a book is easier and
maybe you can’t afford it, but its not like there aren’t docs. You
even have the source code.

I am sympathetic to your annoyance. I don’t think it is OK to suggest/
advocate downloading ruby books in the IRC channel or on this mailing
list: most readers here can afford to buy programming books; it’s bad
to advocate illegal activities in public; free documentation,
tutorials, source code, advice, etc is available; and it’s
discourteous to authors who regularly give free help here. But is
every case of piracy deserving of the same great scorn? I realise
this may be a tangential issue, but if someone can’t afford a book
and is not going to buy it either way, whom has he harmed by
downloading it?

– Elliot T.


#7

Elliot T. wrote:

On May 15, 2006, at 4:07 PM, Jeremy T. wrote:

The harm there is that he would die sooner than he would if he were
left un-murdered. He loses that amount of his life. But the thing is,
who is harmed in the hypothetical case I described?

– Elliot T.
http://www.curi.us/blog/

I cannot afford a Mercedes. I therefore have no plans to buy one. Should
I steal one? After all, nobody really gets hurt, do they?

We are not talking about a starving person who has no choice but to
steal food, and therefore might be considered to have some moral
foundation for their actions. We are talking about people who actually
in most cases do have money, but no sense of ethics. They would never
steal from a Walmart, but only because they might get caught. The
ultimate harm may not be to them, but to those of us who DO have a sense
of ethics. I appreciate the fact that publishers are making their
products available in a variety of formats. Taking advantage of this
situation by copying and distributing their work without paying for it
can only have one long-term consequence: they will either discontinue
the practice or be forced to implement copy protection that makes it
inconvenient for all.

Keith


#8

On 15-May-06, at 8:14 PM, Elliot T. wrote:

left un-murdered. He loses that amount of his life. But the thing
is, who is harmed in the hypothetical case I described?

The publisher, and as a result, the author; by not getting the money
for the book.


#9

On 5/15/06, Elliot T. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

[snip] But is
every case of piracy deserving of the same great scorn?

Same? No. But some variable amount of scorn depending upon
circumstances? I believe yes.

I realise
this may be a tangential issue, but if someone can’t afford a book
and is not going to buy it either way, whom has he harmed by
downloading it?

A writer works on their book based on the premise that they will be
reimbursed for each copy, thus making it worth their while –
otherwise they wouldn’t bother writing it.

In a perfect world, the price of the book might depend some amount
upon circumstances such as, how much can the customer afford? Do they
do their best to help others in society (discount!), or do they
usually opt to screw the other guy (surcharge!) ? Have they had recent
hardships out of their control which might justify a lower price?

It goes the other way too. Suppose some company or person is producing
copyrighted material that’s damaging to society. If you illegally
share their material, and if that sharing helps put them out of
business (i.e. potential buyers get a free copy instead of paying for
it), does that make sharing it right, albeit illegal? Hm… .

To keep this post on-topic, I bought David’s book – the dead tree
version. Manning gives you a complimentary pdf version to boot, but
it’s generated on the fly and has your name and email address
emblazoned at the bottom of every page. So, if you leak your copy to
the 'net, everyone knows it was you. :slight_smile:

Some might suggest that, what would make it even less likely to be
shared would be if they put your name, address, phone number, credit
card number, date of birth, and IP address somewhere on every page.
Then, if you leaked your copy, people could find you and throw rotten
eggs at your house. Though, that could also lead to privacy concerns
(ex. kid buys book on internet with Dad’s card, shares e-book/pdf with
friends, and now folks know a little too much about Dad).


#10

On 5/15/06, Elliot T. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

I realise this may be a tangential issue, but if someone can’t
who is harmed in the hypothetical case I described?
everyone of us who wants to see books continue to be made
available in electronic formats. A number of publishers are
sitting on the fence about whether they should continue to provide
(or start to provide) books like this – redistributing copies (stealing
them) is helping to keep them away.

Who is harmed? I am. You are. Every one of us is.


#11

Keith L. wrote:

I cannot afford a Mercedes. I therefore have no plans to buy one. Should
I steal one? After all, nobody really gets hurt, do they?

Depends. Can you steal a Mercedes with wget?


#12

From: “Elliot T.” removed_email_address@domain.invalid

[…] But is
every case of piracy deserving of the same great scorn? I realise
this may be a tangential issue, but if someone can’t afford a book
and is not going to buy it either way, whom has he harmed by
downloading it?

I think this has the makings of a False Dilemma, or Loaded
Question, or something of that ilk.

It’s really postulating two separate conditions: a) can’t afford
it, and b) not going to buy it EITHER WAY.

“a” is something one would i suppose have to examine on a case
by case basis to determine the, shall we say, veracity of the
claim. How many programmers can’t afford to put away $10 per
month toward a book they want to buy. (Hint: unsubscribe to
bustygrannieswearingapronscookingnude.com)

“b” is the nice slippery slope -> convenient excuse used by
people who don’t want to pay for something they can digitally
copy: Oh well, I wasn’t going to buy it anyway, but I still
want the value from it. But: “EITHER WAY” means even if I
could afford it, I have no intention of paying for it, so
I’ll just copy it and receive the value from it without paying
for it–I’m not hurting anybody.

I think that’s inherently some kind of false choice, because
if you don’t pay for it, you’re not entitled to the value.
So you don’t get to decide to reap the value from someone
else’s work because you decided you didn’t want to pay for
it.

Saying you weren’t going to buy it either way but still are
entitled to obtain the value from the work, is just bogus.
If you aren’t going to buy it, you don’t get to read it.
(Or listen to it, or watch it, or play it.)

The problem is, I think the people who are truly in the “a”
/can’t afford even $10-per-month/ category for programming
books is so slim, it usually comes down to people in the “b”
/decided I wouldn’t buy it but still want the value from it/
category.

If you’re really an “a”, maybe you can send a note to the
author asking about student discounts or whatnot; for
everybody else in “b” either unsubscribe to your pr0n sites
and buy the book, or have the honesty to admit that taking
the value from a commercial product without paying for it
is stealing from the author and publisher.

(Personally, I’m not campaigning for Sainthood. I’ve made
a few mistakes with digital media over the years; but I
will never try to rationalize the few things I never did
pay for in the last 20 years as not hurting anybody.)

Regards,

Bill


#13

On 5/15/06, Elliot T. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

and is not going to buy it either way, whom has he harmed by
downloading it?

This person wasn’t advocating permantly stealing David’s book. He was
advocating a “try it before you buy it” approach. The problem is that
Manning took a risk by making a PDF copy of “Ruby for Rails” available
for purchase. I believe that they made the right choice in doing so,
but asinine approaches like this advocacy – when sample chapters are
made available for a reason, and the book will now soon be available
in bookstores for perusing – will only discourage Manning and other
publishers from doing what they should do, and it will discourage
other authors from following the same path as David did.

I won’t pretend that I’m pissed off at every example of “piracy” (I
hate the term’s abuse that way, but it does have currency), but it’s
advocacy of immoral and illegal behaviour. It just so happens that I
know David and am that much more annoyed by this nonsense.

-austin


#14

Austin Z. wrote:

that some pissant little freak would advocate this action at all. I
was similarly annoyed that people reacted as badly to Dave T.'s
announcement that the Rails 2nd Edition would be the same price. These
people have done a lot for the Ruby community.

They deserve your financial support. Don’t be a pissant thief. Even
temporarily. There are “sample chapters” for a reason.

-austin

Agreed, we should support the PragProg guys so they can continue to do
the great stuff they have been doing. Stealing is wrong and we
shouldn’t encourage it here or on irc. As an undergraduate, or what you
might call “a pissant” student, I read a copy of The Pragmatic
Programmer that I BORROWED from a professor, and I seriously believe it
changed the way I approach life. Their lifelong learning approach,
basically focused on making smart, conscious decisions at every step, is
something I took to heart. That same dirty, bent-up copy was passed
around between many of my friends, and we all regard it as classic. Now
I own the book myself, as well the ruby, rails & subversion books they
wrote since. Oh, but maybe I should never have looked at that copy my
OS professor lent me. It was evil and wrong to not pay the authors for
their hard work, wasn’t it? What if he had just sent me the PDF to read
instead? Would that have produced a substantially different outcome?
Life is not that black and white, and downloading a PDF to peruse, or
to read in its entirety, is barely different from checking out a book
from the library or borrowing from a friend. I think taking a hard line
attitude like this is not only useless, because we will never digress
back to “the way it used to be,” but it is also counter productive. The
way you succeed as an author or publisher is not by punishing your
future clientele, but by trying to win them over as passionate fans. If
you can get people engrossed they will end up buying much more than one
book, and in the long run that is how you make a living.
Bands that have taken this to heart are succeeding, and I think the
PragProg guys will continue too, unless they get worked up like you are
and start making rash decisions. The String Cheese Incident, for
example, releases on their own label and directly to the fans. You can
download great recordings soon after live shows, or you can show up and
record a less stellar copy for yourself. That is how you get people
excited, and earn their respect. My hope is that the PDF model they are
using now continues to get even more “live.” Rather than buy a book I
think it would be cool to subscribe to one. I’d eat up a new chapter of
the pickaxe, for example: maybe some meta-programming, some more
advanced discussion on networking, or even better some in depth
discussion of the language implementation itself. How does YARV work?
I’d pay for all that, but do I really want to pay for the rest of the
pickaxe again, maybe with some typos corrected? No. It’s a waste of
paper, and I’m never going to read the first couple hundred pages of
intro/tutorial again anyway.
In the end, building a larger community of rubyists, who will almost
all buy books eventually, is the most important factor for the survival
of the authors, like your friend David, that we would like to support.
If a few people are first introduced to this world through
ultra-illegal, black market copies of PDF versions, big deal. My guess
is if they dig it they’ll buy the next copy so they can read it in bed.
I did.

-Jeff

P.S. How about this for piracy?
http://gadgets.qj.net/How-to-Pirate-a-Vinyl-Record/pg/49/aid/39381


#15

Jeff R. wrote:

[snip]

Life is not that black and white, and downloading a PDF to peruse,
or to read in its entirety, is barely different from checking out a
book from the library or borrowing from a friend.

[snip]

I kind of agree with this - ‘check out the pdf and then buy the book
attitude’. I also have a lot of sympathy for authors who get ripped off

  • but if anyone tries to tell me that ‘copying a pdf’ is the same as
    stealing a book from a store, I cannot agree with that - they are
    fundamentally different in that one is physical and one isn’t, one is
    theft while the other is copyright infringement - one can get you a slap
    on the wrist, the other locked up (under current DMCA style laws). They
    are the same in that both deprive the author of revenue (in fact I’m not
    certain, but shop thefts probably don’t deprive the author, although
    they do deprive the store).

I live in the developing world, and the fact is that there are no
bookstores that carry Prag Prog titles here - they simply cost too much
for the bookstores to carry. Sadly this means that most developers here
don’t even think about spending 25-50% of their monthly salary on a book
when they can download a pdf from a p2p network. It will get harder
over time as the government here is cracking down on software piracy and
copyright issues, but that basically means that smart people are
deprived from resources that are available to other people just because
of personal finances. There are special copies of addison wesley and
apress/wrox, but no prag progs. I know that some publishers (AW/apress)
have a special ‘third world’ editions - usually printed on lower quality
paper - which is much cheaper than the copy you can get from
Amazon/Borders. For me personally I’d like to get hold of AWDwR and
Rails Recipes, but they aren’t available in shops here and the Amazon
price is a little too much for me (personally) - I will try to get my
company to buy them - we already imported Ship It! from Amazon Japan.
And yes the sample chapters are great - the pragmattic project
automation sample chapter is the perfect documentation for
CruiseControl.

I do get paid enough to buy books (ebooks/dead-trees), so when I see a
good book I try to get it - again though for most things here that means
importing (which takes a while as it has to be inspected by customs).
Ebooks are ok, but credit cards are a real rarity too, so payment
methods are sometimes a problem for potential customers.

I don’t want to piss people off and support people who rip off the
developers/writers who have done so much for the ruby community, but I
wanted to enlighten you all to the realities here - it’s easy to
demonize people for ‘stealing’ a pdf, but sometimes their circumstances
warrant it - I’d never criticise students trying to learn new stuff so
that they can support their families (and yes this is extremely common
here).

Thanks
Kev

PS - most developers here do not own a PC, so this isn’t a ‘they can
afford to pay for toys, why don’t they buy our content’ thing - it’s
simply that they generally have to pay for essentials first and when
they want to improve their situation, they will take advantage of
anything on offer to land a better job that pays more - this includes
using p2p to get access to ‘cracked’ software or ebooks so that they can
learn after hours


#16

On 5/16/06, Kev J. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

I kind of agree with this - ‘check out the pdf and then buy the book
attitude’. I also have a lot of sympathy for authors who get ripped
off - but if anyone tries to tell me that ‘copying a pdf’ is the same
as stealing a book from a store, I cannot agree with that - they are
fundamentally different in that one is physical and one isn’t, one is
theft while the other is copyright infringement - one can get you a
slap on the wrist, the other locked up (under current DMCA style
laws). They are the same in that both deprive the author of revenue
(in fact I’m not certain, but shop thefts probably don’t deprive the
author, although they do deprive the store).

Actually, they’re both theft and they both unlawfully deprive the author
and publisher of their rightful income from the sale. In a theft from a
bookstore, though, there’s an additional aggrieved party. (Your
characterisation of the difference between the possible judgements is
incorrect. I deplore the DMCA and am quite thankful that I don’t live in
a country that has such insane copyright laws.)

It’s easier to steal from the author in one case rather than the
other, but it still deprives the author of income to which they are
entitled.

I live in the developing world, and the fact is that there are no
bookstores that carry Prag Prog titles here - they simply cost too
much for the bookstores to carry. […]

Has anyone mentioned this to the PragProg? Every impression that I’ve
ever gotten of Dave and Andy is that they would care about this, and I
think that their authors would feel the same. Why don’t you suggest it
to them as a possible approach for the developing world?

-austin


#17

Pirating a pdf is not theft. Stealing something implies that the owner
is no
in possession of that object. I.e. I steal your car, you no longer have
a car.
Pirating is copyright infringement. There is a difference, even if
some people in this thread are implying copyright infringement is
tantamount to murder.

-tim


#18

On 5/16/06, Jeff R. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

that some pissant little freak would advocate this action at all. I
was similarly annoyed that people reacted as badly to Dave T.'s
announcement that the Rails 2nd Edition would be the same price.
These people have done a lot for the Ruby community.

They deserve your financial support. Don’t be a pissant thief. Even
temporarily. There are “sample chapters” for a reason.
Agreed, we should support the PragProg guys so they can continue to do
the great stuff they have been doing.

David Black’s book (“Ruby for Rails”) is not published by the PragProgs.

[…] As an undergraduate, or what you might call “a pissant” student,

Pissant thief, not student. There is a difference.

I read a copy of The Pragmatic Programmer that I BORROWED from a
professor, and I seriously believe it changed the way I approach life.
[…] That same dirty, bent-up copy was passed around between many of
my friends, and we all regard it as classic. […] Oh, but maybe I
should never have looked at that copy my OS professor lent me. It was
evil and wrong to not pay the authors for their hard work, wasn’t it?
What if he had just sent me the PDF to read instead? Would that have
produced a substantially different outcome?

Borrowing a physical book makes it unavailable to others. This is the
basis of libraries (and libraries are going to have to find a new model
as more and more books are published electronically). You knew that the
book belonged to the professor. If there had been a PDF of it (and there
isn’t a legal one as far as I know), the professor would have been able
to give you a copy with no inconvenience to himself and you would have
had no incentive to delete the copy of the book when you were done
reading it, and every incentive – and example! – of passing along that
PDF to other friends, each of whom would then have their own copy of the
book.

Life is not that black and white, and downloading a PDF to peruse, or
to read in its entirety, is barely different from checking out a book
from the library or borrowing from a friend.

No, you’re wrong. With the borrowed book, you must return it. With the
illegally copied PDF, there’s no incentive for you to delete it – or
even do the right thing and buy the book. Consider Baen’s successful
experiment of Webscriptions. There are books that I have read from the
free site and not turned around and bought anything further from that
author, or have not bought the paperback or hardcover books. There are
others, though, that I have done exactly that (David Weber’s books,
certainly).

I think taking a hard line attitude like this is not only useless,
because we will never digress back to “the way it used to be,” but it
is also counter productive. The way you succeed as an author or
publisher is not by punishing your future clientele, but by trying to
win them over as passionate fans. If you can get people engrossed they
will end up buying much more than one book, and in the long run that
is how you make a living.

This statement has nothing to do with the complaint. The reality is
that this is the way that all publishers have always had to succeed
… except maybe textbook publishers. :wink:

But this is David Black’s first book, and one of Manning’s first PDF
releases. Do we really want to discourage Manning from embracing a new
model of publishing which encourages unencumbered PDF releases? Not me.

[…]

This is black and white. The asshat who was speaking on IRC was
advocating theft. Temporary or no, it’s still theft. I don’t care if the
copying costs are nil: the price of the PDF is cheaper than the book
itself.

[…]

In the end, building a larger community of rubyists, who will almost
all buy books eventually, is the most important factor for the
survival of the authors, like your friend David, that we would like to
support. If a few people are first introduced to this world through
ultra-illegal, black market copies of PDF versions, big deal. My
guess is if they dig it they’ll buy the next copy so they can read it
in bed.

Except that … the conversion rate for that is minimal. Don’t get me
wrong, I believe that the unencumbered PDF model is the right direction,
and that the pricing on them is good. But there are sample chapters for
perusing for a reason, and now that the book is in stores, you can
peruse it at the store if you want to see more than the sample chapter.

What I know is that the actions here strongly discourage publishers and
authors from writing and publishing books in other than traditional
formats.

-austin


#19

Wow, I can’t believe there are actually people arguing that they
should be able to get the PDF for free.

By copying the PDF without paying for it you are depriving the
author of their compensation. When you take money out of someone’s
wallet, that is stealing. You may try to equate it with other
things (pirating, copyright infringement, whatever) if it makes you
feel better but it doesn’t change the fact that the author does NOT
get paid when you copy their PDF unlawfully.

This is a black and white issue. No gray here.


#20

On 5/16/06, Tim B. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Pirating a pdf is not theft. Stealing something implies that the owner is no
in possession of that object. I.e. I steal your car, you no longer have a car.
Pirating is copyright infringement. There is a difference, even if
some people in this thread are implying copyright infringement is
tantamount to murder.

When you unlawfully deprive someone of something that is rightfully
theirs, that is theft. The act which leads to that theft may be
copyright infringement, but the end result is that something has
been stolen from the publisher and, in turn, the author.

There are legal means to get things which you do not own. Purchasing
is one. Being given a copy is another. Going through some sort of
proper borrowing mechanism (which has yet to be created for
electronic media that doesn’t also involve nonsensical DRM) is
another. Downloading a PDF from a p2p site when that PDF is not being
given away (and likely has someone else’s name on it) is not.

-austin