My lectures for the day had just finished and I was excited to go back to the hostel to relax. As I strolled out of the lecture room, I heard Emem, one of my course mates call me from across the hall.
I stopped and turned.
“Please I want to come to your room and borrow your textbook,” she said as she ran to meet up with me.
“I’ll be using it for the assignment. I’m sorry, I can’t give it out.”
“I’ll photocopy the chapter I want and return it this evening. There’s a place to photocopy near your hostel so it won’t take time.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t allow people photocopy my textbook. It’s piracy. If you want a book, you either get the original copy or your borrow one from someone or the library,” I said to her trying to sound kind.
“The author will not know if I photocopy the book. It’s cheaper for me to photocopy. Not everyone was born with a silver spoon like you.”
“It’s not about being born with a silver spoon or not. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s not right to photocopy a hard copy book in part or in whole without the permission of the author or publisher. Why not go to library and check for the book. Or use another textbook for the assignment. Piracy is a crime. It robs the author and publisher of getting profit and reduces the quality of the book thus making their effort, time and money go to waste. ”
I continued, “I understand that not everybody may be able to afford the original copy of a book. But we have alternatives. We have libraries. You can walk into a library, borrow a book and return it after use. Or you could go sit in the library and read the book if you are not allowed to borrow the book. Or you can borrow from someone who has a copy of the book. Also try to invest your money in buying books. Cut down on some of your expenses, give up some luxuries, save and use the money to buy books.”
She hissed and walked out on me. Well, I’m sorry to have disappointed her. I can’t be a party to book piracy.
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I got back to the hostel and met with another temptation. One of my roommates asked me to send an eBook via Whatsapp or Bluetooth to her so that she can read it.
“That’s piracy,” I said to her and went on to explain. “I don’t send out Ebooks I bought except it was free. If you want the book, visit the author’s website and purchase the book directly from her. Or you can check online bookshops like Amazon and Okadabooksfor the book.
“You are selfish o. You can’t even help someone. Just to transfer that small book. Do you think everyone can buy the book? Wicked girl,” she said to me with disdain.
“I am not wicked. It’s actually wickedness to distribute an eBook via email, social media or Bluetooth without the permission of the author or publisher. We all should fight piracy by getting the original copy of books whether hard copy or soft copy.
I sat her down and explained to her the same thing I had explained to Emem earlier. I told her that if she ever needed a book but didn’t know where to get the original copy, she could use Google or ask people who have gotten the original copy where they got theirs.
“These days, you can get most books directly from the author. So if you know the name of the author, you can easily find the author on social media and contact the person. Also, some authors leave their contact details on their books. So you can ask someone who has a copy of the author’s book to send the contact details to you. We also have online bookstores like Amazon and Okada Books. You can search for any book using either the book title or the name of the author.”
“If you distribute eBooks for free or allow people photocopy your book, you are helping them” she said.
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“If you want to help people, direct them to where they can get a copy of the book. You can direct them to the author, publisher, bookshop or website where the book is available. Or better still, buy many copies of the book and give it out. That also includes Ebooks and audio books. It’s piracy to buy one copy of an Ebook and distribute it to five people. If you want to give out the book to five people, then buy five copies rather than distributing one copy to five people.”
“I don’t like giving out my books to people because I don’t want people to misplace my book or tear it so I’ll rather allow them to photocopy it or distribute my own copy of the Ebook,” she said out of concern.
“For people like me who value my books, it’s really difficult to lend out our books to people. Sometimes, they will misplace it, or tear it, pour oil or water on it, man handle or, rough handle it or keep it and never return it. But that’s not a justification for piracy. If you are afraid that someone might man handle your book, then don’t give it out but also don’t pirate the book.”
“Why should I fight piracy?” she asked.
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“Writers spend time and energy creating original contents. When you pirate their works, you are making their time and energy which they invested in creating original contents be in vain. Secondly, most books cost money to publish. These writers/authors/publishers need to recover the cost of production and they also need to make profit from their hard work. But when you pirate their works, you are denying the writers the opportunity to recover the cost of production and also denying them their profit. So help to fight piracy. Get the original copy of any book you want to read whether it is in hard copy, ebook or audio format and encourage people to get the original copy of books.”
She thanked me for enlightening her on piracy and proceeded to purchase a copy of the eBook from the author directly.
Did you learn anything from my story? Please share with me your views and opinions about piracy.
End Note: This is a fiction story and episode 16 of the #UduakObongStorySeries.