I admit I have an agenda. Almost everyone I know makes some sort of income from the arts. Some are writers, some are artists, some composers and songwriters, and some make video games. None of those people are rich, and every single one of them has been made poorer by piracy. My husband’s in a band who are signed to an indie label and – like Colleen Doran – is “depressed” by the number of people who’d pay £400 for an iphone and £50 for a concert ticket but won’t fork out £8 for an album.
I spent the last two years working on a graphic novel called Gone to Amerikay, written by Derek McCulloch for DC Comics/Vertigo. It will have taken me 3,000 hours to draw it and months of research. Others have contributed long hours, hard work and creativity to this process. But due to shrinking financing caused by falling sales in the division, these people are no longer employed.
The minute this book is available, someone will take one copy and within 24 hours, that book will be available for free to anyone around the world who wants to read it. 3,000 hours of my life down the rabbit hole, with the frightening possibility that without a solid return on this investment, there will be no more major investments in future work.
The other day I likened it to Morrowind. When starting the role-playing computer game, your character is placed in an unguarded room that is filled with items that can be taken without consequence. I take the bread from the basket, then I take the basket, and the cutlery and crockery, and then I strip the room bare. I take everything that I can carry. I don’t even use, let alone value, everything I take. I take it because it is there and because I can and because it is easy and I won’t get caught.
Spare me any justifications about it being “one in the eye for The Man” or some sort of noble protest against outmoded distribution models. You’re just doing it because you can and because you can get away with it – and this time you’re not just taking from the faceless Imperial forces of some video game.
I’ll let Colleen Doran explain, since she’s much more eloquent than I am: