Don’t steal books; buy them.

By John Fraser

The fine folk at Penguin (the publishers, not the ones with the funny walk) deserve to be taken seriously.

They are threatening legal action against a few obscure politicians who think it normal to advocate theft. Not that we have never before seen the words politician and theft in the same sentence.

There is what I believe to be an excellent book, which I have every intention of purchasing for real money, called Gangster State, which alleges that a very, very, very senior ANC politician is a crook and a swindler.

Not yet having read it, I shall have to rely on my instincts. That it is pretty close to the mark. I stand to be corrected, but do not expect to be.

This is what the publishers had to say:

“Penguin Random House is appalled by the ongoing illegal distribution of a pirated PDF of Gangster State, which is widely being disseminated on social media. It is of even more concern that prominent individuals appear to encourage this unlawful activity.

“The distribution of pirated copies of Gangster State by Pieter-Louis Myburgh infringes our copyright as well as that of the author, and it is unlawful in terms of the Copyright Act of 1976.”

The problem, though, is that piracy is rife. I wrote recently about the demise of the DVD and Blu-ray. I, like so many others, have built up a collection of movies, concerts, comedy shows. Many, many of them.

These days the resale value of a pre-owned disc is tiny, with that of a CD even lower.

This is not the point, though. I own these discs. I paid for them. I can watch them when I choose, lend or sell them when I choose. And when I made each purchase, in almost all cases the artist/s got some cash.

Where I might have been tempted by pirated content, it has almost always been because the people who hold the rights to whatever I wish to watch and listen to are not publishing and selling the stuff. Their fault, I would argue.

I am currently reading an excellent book, the first for a while. I paid for it, even though it is in electronic format.

I read it on my iPad, on the Amazon Kindle app. And I own this copy, although what will happen to it when I no longer (dis)grace you all with my presence is concerning.

The physical books I own can be disposed of, will retain some value, and some are really worth reading. Especially the cartoon collections.

But back to the Penguin problem. I fully condemn those who advocate the theft and then diffusion of printed works, recordings and any other material which they do not own and which have not been given to them.

Just remember. If it no longer becomes viable to expose and then publish details of the rampant corruption, looting and hypocrisy of our rulers, then we will all be the poorer.

Don’t support those who wish to deny an honest author a decent living.

Buy this bloody book, and many others.

It will make you a better person in so, so many ways.

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