A few hours after I’ve published my review of the “Cisco routers for the desperate” book someone posted a link to a digital (pirated) copy of the book to my Facebook page, no doubt feeling like a hero fighting for the freedom of information (or some similar nonsense).
I didn’t even try to download the book to see whether it was a leaked copy from the publisher (in which case someone has some serious problems) or a scanned PDF.
I often wondered what drives a derailed individual to scan a copy of a book and post it online. I could always understand the motives if you’d have to pay for the scanned copy, in which case it would be clearly a theft (but at least I could see the reasoning behind it). Investing significant amount of your time in scanning and posting a pirated copy for free and thus causing significant harm to the author and the publisher without any personal gain was long beyond my comprehension … but finally I’ve found a scientific explanation.
Before someone starts cheering the brave pirates and tells me how desperately out-of-date I am (I’m well aware I’m a GONER), let me explore a few long-term consequences of this type of piracy.
High-quality information doesn’t just appear out of cosmic entropy; someone has to invest significant amount of time into preparing, testing, writing, editing, reviewing, formatting and publishing of the information (be it in paper or digital form). Creating a book like the MPLS VPN books takes man-months of effort (believe me, I’ve been there).
Unless you’re living in the cozy world of some academic institutions or on an unconditional stipend, you usually have to justify spending that much time (at least to yourself). Getting the return (royalties) on your investment (time/costs) through book sales is one way of doing it; working in the vendor’s documentation department is another. If the book sales make no sense any longer due to piracy, you’ll be left with whatever the vendors decide to give you.
Do you really want that? Do you really think Cisco Press (and numerous other publishers) would still be in the business of book publishing if the vendor documentation addressed your needs? People posting and downloading pirated copies of the books are literally hacking the branch on which you’re sitting.
Last but not least: according to the source giving me the above-mentioned scientific explanation, I’ve just made a huge mistake writing this post.