The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Piracy and the end of culture.

Piracy is killing human culture – and it shocks me to observe how little is being done about it. In the last few days, I came across an author’s article on the Internet discussing the impact of piracy and torrent sites on her livelihood. It made for very sad reading. This writer was a very prolific writer. She had to be...for one very real reason: her books were showing very low sales. Now, why was this so? Well, each of her works was being pirated massively. Now, this had a very real impact on her livelihood and career. Despite writing very productively, each day of her life, she found it difficult to make a good living. Yet, the impact of piracy went way beyond that. You see, this author was a writer of series, based on characters she had invented. Now, she revealed that her publisher had CANCELLED three of her series, owing to poor sales, due to piracy. These series had come to an abrupt end, because her publisher was unwilling to invest more money, supporting series that were being stolen wholesale, but sold very little. As a result, neither the author, nor her publisher were able to make enough money from the books, to make it worthwhile continuing to publish them or write them – so the series stopped, in mid-flow, their interrupted stories never to be completed.
This author had recently started publishing a fourth series. She dearly hoped that this wouldn’t be killed by piracy, too. Yet, it seems likely that it will be. Her situation is becoming so dire, that it is quite clear that, in the not too distant future, she might not have a writing career at all – because, even if she is still willing to write (which may not be so), her publisher may be unwilling to publish any more of her books, because it is unable to make a profit from them.

Now, this situation is not hers alone. Most writers are affected, to varying degrees, by piracy. In her article, she commented darkly, that she had seen pirate site members enquiring as to when the next books from particular authors would be released – just so that they could pirate them. Her comments were dark because she knew, for certain, that those authors had had their publishing contracts CANCELLED owing to poor sales of their previous books. In other words, the much awaited books, that these downloaders wanted to pirate, would never be written and never be published. The pirates had killed the very thing they wished to steal – because they stole the earlier works. These pirates are ending the careers and livelihoods of authors and, what is more, they are preventing the creation of human culture – because, in a climate in which authors cannot make a living from their works, because those works are being stolen, writers will be unable to write, because they will be forced to do other things for a living – thus, the world’s supply of interesting new creative works, will dry up. Human culture will be dead – killed by the pirates.

It seems to me that there needs to be much more serious penalties for piracy than presently exist. If we are to have a thriving human culture, then the creators of cultural works – be they books, music, films or the like, must have protection from the predations of pirates. The penalties, therefore, need to be truly draconian – and need to be enforced.

It might seem harsh to suggest it, but since pirates are killing human culture and depriving us all of future works that will never be written, or created – be those works books, music or films etc. – then we should consider whether a mandatory death sentence might be appropriate for some categories of pirate – the most prolific or habitual ones (or perhaps even for all pirates) – and whether mandatory custodial sentences would be appropriate for less active pirates AND DOWNLOADERS. Yes. I am suggesting that anyone who downloads “Free” cultural works, be they books, films or music, should receive a mandatory custodial sentence, on being found out. I would also like to see fines amounting to thousands of times of the value of the stolen goods. Thus, for instance, if someone has downloaded a 10 dollar book, they should be fined 10,000 dollars or even 100,000 dollars  – for each and every such work they have downloaded off torrent sites. Furthermore, the quantum of monies raised from fines should be returned to the individual authors (or other creators) who were pirated. Were such policies instituted and enforced, we would soon see a great reduction in piracy and a return to profitability for creators of cultural works. Were this to be done, the future of human culture would be assured.

Yet, I very much doubt whether the world’s politicians will act. In general, politicians are not creative people. I don’t think they understand what it is to sit alone, in a room, writing a book for five years – only to have it stolen and downloaded a million times, whilst only selling 500 copies. I don’t think they understand the impact on future creative production of such a situation. They never consider unwritten books, uncomposed music and unshot films as something to think about. They don’t see that our culture is dying because of two factors: organized online piracy – and “SHARING” of ebooks, and music and the like. Both are forms of theft and both are killing human culture.

It needs to be universally understood and appreciated that, each and every time a cultural work is consumed, without having paid the creator for it, that a blow has been struck against all future creative production of that individual or company. Should there be too many such blows and too many people consuming the works for “free”, then there will be no more future books, music, or films. Quite simply, the downloaders and pirates will have killed the creator, as assuredly as if they had shot them. The reason this is so is because, if the creator cannot make a living for themselves and their families, from creating future works, they will be forced into another line of work – and will have NO TIME OR ENERGY LEFT TO CREATE ANYTHING ANYMORE – even if they had the heart to do so, knowing they would not be paid.

My thoughts turn again, to those pirate site members wondering when their “favourite author” was going to publish their next book – yet being completely oblivious to the fact that they had actually killed his career through their piracy of earlier works. There is something very sad and very dumb about that. Clearly the downloaders like the author’s work enough to be motivated to steal it (but not enough to pay for it) – yet in stealing it, they have destroyed him and prevented all future works from ever being published. How shortsighted is that?

The lesson here is simple: if you want a world in which new books are written, new music is composed and new films are shot – then don’t steal them, for “free”, off torrent sites – pay for them, each and every time. Every time anyone steals from a torrent site, they are taking a big step towards ending an author’s, a musician’s or a film-maker’s career. Do you really want a future without books, music or films? Do you really want a future without human culture? Then do what you can, to make sure people don't steal. Get them to pay for the works they enjoy and save human culture from the pirates.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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