Thoughts of Paulo Coelho on Sopa



IN THE former Soviet Union, in the late 1950s and 60s, many books that questioned the political system began to be circulated privately in mimeographed form. Their authors never earned a penny in royalties. On the contrary, they were persecuted, denounced in the official press, and sent into exile in the notorious Siberian gulags. Yet they continued to write.

Why? Because they needed to share what they were feeling. From the Gospels to political manifestos, literature has allowed ideas to travel and even to change the world.

I have nothing against people earning money from their books; that’s how I make my living. But look at what’s happening now. Stop Online Piracy Act (S.O.P.A) may disrupt internet. This is a REAL DANGER, not only for Americans, but for all of us, as the law – if approved – will affect the whole planet.

And how do I feel about this? As an author, I should be defending ‘intellectual property’, but I’m not.

Pirates of the world, unite and pirate everything I’ve ever written!

The good old days, when each idea had an owner, are gone forever. First, because all anyone ever does is recycle the same four themes: a love story between two people, a love triangle, the struggle for power, and the story of a journey. Second, because all writers want what they write to be read, whether in a newspaper, blog, pamphlet, or on a wall.

The more often we hear a song on the radio, the keener we are to buy the CD. It’s the same with literature.

The more people ‘pirate’ a book, the better. If they like the beginning, they’ll buy the whole book the next day, because there’s nothing more tiring than reading long screeds of text on a computer screen.

1. Some people will say: You’re rich enough to allow your books to be distributed for free.

That’s true. I am rich. But was it the desire to make money that drove me to write? No. My family and my teachers all said that there was no future in writing.

I started writing and I continue to write because it gives me pleasure and gives meaning to my existence. If money were the motive, I could have stopped writing ages ago and saved myself having to put up with invariably negative reviews.

2. The publishing industry will say: Artists can’t survive if they’re not paid.

In 1999, when I was first published in Russia ( with a print- run of 3,000), the country was suffering a severe paper shortage. By chance, I discovered a ‘ pirate’ edition of The Alchemist and posted it on my web page.

A year later, when the crisis was resolved, I sold 10,000 copies of the print edition. By 2002, I had sold a million copies in Russia, and I have now sold 12 million.

When I traveled across Russia by train, I met several people who told me that they had first discovered my work through the ‘ pirated’ edition I posted on my website. Nowadays, I run a ‘Pirate Coelho’ website, giving links to any books of mine that are available on file- sharing sites. And my sales continue to grow — nearly 140 million copies world wide.

When you’ve eaten an orange, you have to go back to the shop to buy another. In that case, it makes sense to pay on the spot. With an object of art, you’re not buying paper, ink, paintbrush, canvas or musical notes, but the idea born out of a combination of those products.

‘Pirating’ can act as an introduction to an artist’s work. If you like his or her idea, then you will want to have it in your house; a good idea doesn’t need protection.

The rest is either greed or ignorance

— Paulo Coelho

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

No one suggests musicians and other creative artists should not be rewarded. Be it buskers on the streets or mega stars. What we all object to is the greed of the music industry and Hollywood, often the same mega corporations.

I often buy CDs off guys who I hear play on the street. I know the money is going straight into their pocket not to a corporation. One female singer was amazed when I bought more than one copy. I can run off copies, if you prefer, I told her.

The music business does not nurture creative talent, we do not see the relationship we saw between George Martin and The Beatles. It is the next clone me-too act, the next mega deal, to then be dropped when the next talentless hyped act comes along.

With Hollywood, it is the blockbuster movie.

Sadly we are now seeing the same in the book industry, the next blockbuster, the next me too copycat book jumping on the bandwagon. These are heavily discounted to supermarkets and High Street book chains, leaving independents who know their trade, to die a slow death.

We used to have the music business equate the sales of blank cassettes to lost record sales. They even tried to force through a sales tax on blank cassettes to compensate them for lost sales. They then tried the same with sales of blank CDs,and no doubt Hollywood does the same for sales of blank DVDs.

I have always recorded music. As kids we used to stick a microphone in front of the speakers. Then we learnt to attach wires to the speaker wires with crocodile clips. Look at all the bootleg Dylan albums. They achieved cult status.

That a CD or DVD is copied does not equate to lost sales. It may never have been bought. But it does expose the artist to a wider audience. I may have a copy, think that is great, when I would not have otherwise have heard of.

I have a love of early music from copies from a friend, music I may not otherwise have heard of. Certainly not the music of Hildergard von Bingen. Would I have gone to Guildford Cathedral to hear The Sixteen, bought one of their CDs, be going to one of their concerts in February and hopefully Winchester cathedral in April?

Hail, Mother of the Redeemer
On-line tickets for British Museum exhibition

I have seen most of the leading musicians from Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Santana, The Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Vangelis, because I have shared their music with friends. I have also bought their albums and DVDs.

As Paulo Coelho notes, pirate copies of his books has brought him to a wider audience. With over 130 million books sold, he does not appear to have suffered lost sales.

During the summer, I spoke to a couple who had the books of Paulo Coelho stored on their laptop. Because of that they were familiar with his works. When I told of his latest book Aleph (word of which spreads by word-of-mouth because Waterstone’s perversely did not put on display) they thanked me and said they would pick up a copy.

Sopa and Pipa is about satisfying the greed of Hollywood. It was cooked up behind closed doors by politicians for sale to the highest bidder. No one gets their snouts in the trough as deep as US politicians.

What these corrupt politicians did not expect was the reaction from the public. Over 7 million people signed a petition on google.

We are not prepared to tolerate control of the internet.

In what was then Czechoslovakia, a group of dissidents were put on trial in what was known as The Prague Trial. They fought to stop abuses by the Soviet-controlled state. A schoolboy had been sentenced to 21 months in prison for copying a text by Vaclav Havel and showing it to his class mates. In the 1950s show trials led to executions.

Megaupload has been shut down by the Feds. The Hong Kong-based site had around 150 million users and 50 million daily hits. The site was supported by Alicia Keys and Kanye West. Four Megaupload employees were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand, at the request of US Feds! Anonymous retaliated by shutting down several sites in the US.

Megaupload was also used for legitimate file sharing. It is already back up and running with the address (no domain name to circumvent the Feds):

US Congress has backed down over Sopa and Pipa. But the bills have only been suspended, not killed. They need to be killed.

We have appalling hypocrisy. The US applauds use of the net by dissidents, attacks control by China, yet seeks to control the net, supplies weapons to the Fascist states the dissidents are fighting.

You cannot kill an idea. You cannot control the flow of information. The Soviets tried and they failed.

Har Paulo Coelho blitt en pervers gammel gris?
The Day the Internet Roared
We are the lobbyists now
Senate and House slow PIPA/SOPA votes, but promise it’s just a delay
SOPA: Anti-Piracy or Censorship?
Feds Shutter Megaupload, Arrest Executives
Anonymous Retaliates Against MegaUpload Takedown, Knocks MPAA, RIAA Sites Offline [plus DOJ]
Sopa and Pipa bills postponed in US Congress
Hackers retaliate over Megaupload
Megaupload wasn’t just for pirates: angry users out of luck for now
Megaupload Is Back in High Tech Whack-a-Mole
SOPA Defeat Is Not the End Of Hollywood’s Ramped-Up Fight Against Piracy

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