In the Chronicle of Higher Education, an editor (who uses a pseudonym) describes his experience when finding his published essays had gotten onto a free download site… and whether he, in hindsight, had made a mistake in taking action.
The article does provide a good accounting of what is really at stake here:
I confess that those relatively small financial perks have not been negligible to me, as my university hasn’t given raises for several years. My income alone supports my wife and three young children, so we have been experiencing some lean living in recent years. The checks from my publishers have paid for a car repair and quite a few boxes of diapers.
Many of those who blithely download ebooks tend to be consciously dismissive of the issue of compensation to artists, ignoring the fact that not all authors make a lot of money from their work… and many of them really could use the extra income.
The article also outlines the usual pros and cons cited in the pirate ebook world, including a response from his publisher’s lawyer when he inquired about issuing a takedown notice to the filesharing site. Most notable here is that, on both the pro and con side, neither have facts, figures or proof to go on—no one knows whether the pirated copies are helping or harming sales—so the author does not manage to say whether pirated ebooks are a good or bad thing.
The author notes that the publisher had decided not to take action against known filesharing instances, unless someone (like the author) contacted them and asked them to take action. And finally, he reveals that as soon as the book was removed from the one site, he googled it again, and found it on countless others… at which point, “in my conflict with e-pirates, I’ve decided to withdraw from battle, at least for a while.”
The article literally draws no conclusions, and gives us little that hasn’t been said elsewhere… I myself wonder why the article was written at all, other than to suggest the complete bafflement of the publishing industry—and authors—over e-piracy.