I want members of Local 802 to know that stealing hurts. I recently discovered that a Web site called www.Scribd.com was offering a download of my music technique book “How To Sight Read Jazz and Other Syncopated-Type Rhythms” for free and without my permission. It turns out that a user in Montreal had actually scanned every page of my book and uploaded it to this site for people to download for free.
This site apparently allows users to upload published works, both with and without the permission of the copyright holders. I encourage every Local 802 member who’s ever written a book to see if their work has been illegally uploaded to this site.
Over 350 people downloaded my book from this site. Since the book sells for $15, this amounts to over $5,000 worth of sales I have lost.
But that’s not the worst of it. Since 350 people downloaded it already, they can now pirate the book themselves, spreading it further throughout the Internet. Each pirated copy undermines my own sales.
I contacted Scribd.com immediately. They took down the pirated copy of my book, but the damage was already done. Scribd claims that they are just a “file sharing” site and are not responsible if users post illegal or copyrighted material. As Allegro goes to press, I am still trying to get them to tell me the real name of the person who pirated my material. (His user name is “Hootoob.”) I intend to pursue him or her in court.
“Hootoob” boasts of having over one million subscribers on his own Web site. There are even commercial ads on his site from advertisers who appear to have bought ads based on the amount of traffic he has gotten by giving away things like my book without my permission and other works that he has scanned. I really want to see this through, not just for me but for everybody who has become a victim of this sort of thing.
You would be surprised at the number of musicians who are now reluctant to publish anything creative because they know it will just be ripped off.
Prior to its theft, my book had enjoyed very brisk sales. I had received a nice video endorsement from the pianist and educator Hal Galper, which helped a lot. But after my book was pirated, sales fell off to practically none. Now that it’s out there in cyberspace, I’m worried that as far as this book is concerned, which I worked very hard on, further sales and income will be only a fraction of what they would have been otherwise.
The argument the perpetrators now use in support of “file sharing” is that it is the same as the way a library works. In other words, you can check out books in a library and read them for free. The difference is this. The guy who wrote a book in the library got paid by a publisher – and the library paid for the book. Furthermore, you can’t keep a book from the library. And a library doesn’t have unlimited copies of each book. Unlike illegal file sharing, a library is not permitted to make multiple copies of a book and let other people copy it and send it to all their friends.
Fellow musicians: listen up! This time it’s my book. Next time it could be your song or your score. This has been a problem in the music industry for years, greatly diminishing sales and royalties. If you have friends or relatives who believe it’s O.K. to steal music or books without paying for them, please share my story with them. Or if you become a victim of such activity yourself, pursue it. We need to band together to support each other. File sharing is stealing. Stealing hurts musicians. There are real consequences. We need to change the attitude of those who believe that musicians are not entitled to make a living from their art. Our sole purpose in life is not to supply weasels and thieves with free entertainment.