Charles Petzold

Ursula Le Guin’s Faux Pas

May 13, 2009
New York, N.Y.

According to yesterday's New York Times (5/12/09, B1), science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin recently found one of her books posted on the internet:

“I thought, who do these people think they are?” Ms. Le Guin said. “Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?”

It's a rookie mistake. Seasoned victims of piracy know that nothing inflames the hornets more than denying their right to freely download and share all forms of media.

But certainly Ms. Le Guin's initial reaction is understandable. The first time you see your book posted on the web, it's equivalent to the sensation of being shat upon. As the years pass by, however, and it happens more and more, you realize there's not a damn thing you can do about it, and the initial insult modulates to the somewhat less offensive feeling of merely being sprayed with spittle.

The best thing to do is to just keep your mouth shut. Try instead to cherish those ever-dwindling readers whose curious morals persuade them to buy books rather than download them, and who thereby thank the author with kindly hug.