For $4 billion. Good deal for Marvel. Considering the profitability of Marvel's movies, maybe good deal for Disney too. Now the big two comics companies both belong to huge multinational entertainment conglomerates--I hope the Marvel folks are ready to have lots more meetings and layers of bureacracy.
From President Obama's eulogy for Teddy Kennedy, delivered today.
"What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose,
and love, and joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to
us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and
respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and
grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better
world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back
on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a
difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the
lives of other human beings."
It was brought to my attention today that there's a blog offering books by me, and a great many other writers, for free downloads.
This is identical, except in terms of technique, to reaching into our wallets or electronically dipping into our bank accounts and stealing our cash.
Writers get paid in two ways. We get an "advance," which is a sum agreed upon between us and the publisher that we'll receive no matter what. Sometimes we also get royalties, which is a percentage of the sale of each copy, after the advance is recouped. Because the advance has to be recouped first, many of us never actually receive any royalties. The royalty percentage is very small, and it takes a lot of copies sold to make up the amount of even a modest advance.
One's next book contract often depends, of course, on how well one's last book sold.
So providing free copies for download by anyone cuts into the possibility of ever earning royalties, and it can even reduce the payment for future books--or make it so future books are never acquired--because those copies don't count as copies sold, and neither the publisher or author make any money from them.
It's intellectual property--copyrighted material--that doesn't belong to the person posting them on the blog. In this particular case, the individual claims to have bought them--most likely as ebooks, which would be easiest to pirate. That may be true--but it doesn't change the fact that it's illegal to give them away in this fashion.
I complained to the blog's host, Blogger, which is owned by Google. It's Saturday, so I don't expect action from them today. But could it possibly be that they were unaware of this blog, which has been dealing in pirated books for months? Could they possibly not understand that it infringes upon the copyright of every author up there?
I also wrote to the individual behind it, whose name is Michael. He doesn't post any identifying information on the blog, but he has a button for "donations" (which means, if he's receiving donations, that he's making money on the works of the authors he is stealing from). Clicking the donations button gave me an e-mail address. His response was: "Those books were bought and paid for my me... If you want to refund the cost Ill remove them from the Blog, other wise take a hike.."
In other words, not only is he barely literate, but he is fully aware that he's stealing from authors and he doesn't care.
If we can't get paid for what we do, we can't continue to do it. Maybe Stephen King or James Patterson or J.K. Rowling could retire on what they've already made, but most writers I know have to write--and sell--their books, or they'll have to take jobs in other fields. Anyone who truly loves books and reading would understand that piracy is wrong, and that writers (and musicians, etc.) who create intellectual property need to be paid for that intellectual property. If you're reading my blog, you are probably a person who likes to read.
So here's the blog, and here's the guy's email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blogger is supposed to have a "flag" button on every one of their blogs, used for pointing out objectionable content, but somehow it doesn't appear on this blog. If you use Blogger, please let them know that you object to their support of copyright violation. You might also consider changing to a blog server that is more proactive about avoiding such issues. If you use other Google services, such as gmail, you might think about changing that as well (as a search engine I prefer Goodsearch, which allows you to designate a worthy charity or nonprofit that will receive a donation each time you search). But if you do change, let them know why. You might also drop Michael a line letting him know what you think of thieves. And if you're a writer, check for your books, and if they're there definitely contact blogger via their online form and let them know you want your copyrighted material taken down.
UPDATE, Sept. 2: I've been updating via comments too, but the latest is that the guy's blog is now open by invitation only. Blogger hasn't shut him down yet (or replied to me directly) but at least he's not reaching as wide an audience, and is one step closer to being put out of business.
I come from a family that greatly admires the Kennedys. I've met Robert and Ethel Kennedy, and in 1980, the first presidential campaign speech I ever heard live and in person was delivered by Ted Kennedy. His campaign faltered--as, ultimately, did Carter's. But the speech I attended was fiery, rousing, and inspirational.
Still, Ted Kennedy was probably meant to stay in the Senate, where he could do his best work. And that he did, championing progressive causes for a lifetime. His presence will be greatly missed. I was thrilled to see him endorse and campaign for Barack Obama, and the idea that he was passing on to Obama the Kennedy torch of standing up for minorities and working people was a powerful one--one I have to hope Obama doesn't soon forget.
It's a tragic irony that the working class people who are disrupting town halls these days never had a greater friend in government than Kennedy, and yet they're agitating against the very cause Ted Kennedy spent his life working for. They're doing it, although they might not realize it, to benefit a handful of huge insurance companies, and no one else. One hopes that if his passing does nothing else, it will open their eyes, and will spur Kennedy's colleagues in the Senate to pass a bill of which their Lion would have been proud.
11:35--Edited slightly as I was reminded that Kennedy's brain cancer was not diagnosed until just after he endorsed Obama--his surprise appearance at the Democratic Convention was a stirring sight.
My original graphic novel Zombie Cop will make its small-screen debut on October 15, in the teaser segment of hit CBS-TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
It started on Wednesday, with an email from the publisher,
forwarding an email from the show's property master, seeking permission
to use the book on an upcoming episode. I responded positively (of
course!). By the end of business that day I'd had a conversation with
the property master, signed the necessary paperwork, and the publisher
had shipped copies of the book over to the production office. They
shot the scene last night. In the scene, someone's reading the
graphic novel in a diner, and that serves as the lead-in to a gunfight.
Now, I have various connections to CSI. I used to edit a line of CSI comics. I've met Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the hit franchise, been a guest on the set of CSI: Miami, and written graphic novels based on CSI and CSI: Miami. I wrote a CSI: Miami novel called Right to Die that came out last year. This coming Tuesday, August 25, my first CSI novel (based on the original series), CSI: Brass in Pocket, goes on sale, and I'm just wrapping up the final polish on the next one, CSI: Blood Quantum. I know people who work on the show, and people in CBS licensing in New York.
But the property master who selected the book was unaware of all
that until we talked on the phone. He just liked the cover and title
and thought it was an appropriate way to lead up to the gunfight.
So the six-degrees thing here is more like two degrees, or one--but
those connections had nothing to do with my book making its
small-screen debut. It's more like a cosmic coincidence... but I'll
Herewith the covers of Zombie Cop, and CSI: Brass in Pocket, so you know what to look for...
My three-volume comic book bio of our 44th president will be collected into a nice hardcover (slightly revised) this October by IDW Publishing. It's called Barack Obama: The Comic Book Biography. Every American citizen--and everyone living in other countries who has ever heard of the United States of America--should own a copy of this. Plus maybe a back-up just in case.