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Sunday 8 January 2012

Penny Pinching Pirates

Yesterday I found out that my latest Peter Cotton novel, Icelight was being pirated. Flattering? I am not sure.

Publishing has long been a compacted cottage industry, by which I mean that multinationals aggregate a great many individual writers to look like one big umbrella with a logo on it. Experience of other industries suggests this model does not always work. Music, for example.

What does appear strange is the great divergence in demand. Very many people want to read – or have wanted to read – the Twilight Saga. Likewise the Harry Potter books. In my case, however, the pirates are now catering for what I can only describe with any politeness as a boutique interest. To be blunt, Peter Cotton has no theme park, nor film series.

No. We are talking here of penny pinching pirates.

My cynical husband has assured me that the meaning of ‘copyright’ has changed. It now indicates a right to copy.

Since my sales really do not justify a J K Rowling type legal team using a ‘watermark’ to trace buccaneers, he has come up with what he terms ‘an oblique response’ – namely the manufacture of pins and T-shirts. The pins will be ‘P’ for pirated. The T-shirts will bear legends like ‘I’ve been pirated.’ He suggests the margins would match royalties and invites suggestions.

I am a little surprised that the pirates have bothered. There is inclusive and there is swashbuckling. Not much swash here, I think. This is more like Scrooge than Jack Sparrow.

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