Let's Steal a Book (BJ)


benedikt-dlWe like to get things free. When it’s on the Internet it doesn’t feel like stealing.

The eternal battle between authors to get money for what they created goes on. We love all the little things that make life more pleasant. The IPod was something I had been waiting for. All my favorite music collected in one place. For me alone to enjoy. Once in a while I would share some collections with others, mostly my ever young friends who like to listen to sixties music. The old masters. It is so incredibly convenient not to have to carry all your CDs around. Quickly all my discs, mostly albums that I had previously owned on Vinyl, were on my beloved IPod. Then someone invented a phone that did the same thing and somehow my songs found their way onto my phone as well. I did not feel guilty. I had paid for all this music. Some of it twice.

Once in a while a friend might come by with a new CD by some group that I should absolutely listen to. Sometimes I would relent and add it to my collection. Most of it was junk that I’d listen to at most once. I just copied it to keep the peace with him anyway.

But even though I might not listen to these songs I now had them on my IPod. I could listen to the songs if I wanted to. And I had never paid for them. Should I feel guilty?

I have bought songs off the Internet. Not often because until lately the big chains would not sell songs to Iceland. Not once have I been to a pirate site where you can get songs free. So when I get to the Pearly Gates my conscience will be relatively clear when it comes to stealing music.

What about software, Benedikt? Have you ever used software that you suspected was not fully paid for to the original supplier?

Well, I may not always have checked, I think that it was some of the time, these guys are all so rich anyway, I always paid for the software I used at work …

How about your children, did they ever find free music on the Internet and download it to their personal player?

Here I’d be in real trouble again, but now they are all well over 18 so they have to do their own time for their Internet crimes.

Pop stars used to get rich by having a hit record. Some of you will have heard of Don McLean. I would never have been able to answer who he was in Trivial Pursuit, but I stumbled upon his most famous song, American Pie, the other week. I had heard that often on American Radio when I lived there, but when I listened to it now I found that it was much longer than I had thought (eight minutes) and I really only knew the chorus: So bye-bye, miss American pie.etc. The lyrics sound very unintelligibly to me. When McLean was asked what it meant he replied: “It means I never have to work again.”

Evidently that’s no longer true. He is singing all over the place and might even be coming to Iceland (I’m not sure enough people know who he is). Why? Probably too many people are now listening to his song for free. I went to YouTube to find the song and found generally low quality videos of the song, one of them featuring a picture of Bob Dylan. But they were good enough for me to hear what it sounds like and decide whether I’d like to play it on the piano (I did find the score in a book that I must have bought). So all McLean got from me was his share of the $ 4.99 the book might have cost, a book of 99 mellow songs. (I’m a mellow guy). After sales tax, the share of the bookstore and the publisher, that comes down to exactly … not very much. I understand why Dan is on the road again.

I recently got a Pad. Not and IPad but a Think Pad tablet. A gadget everyone should own. I like it just as much as the IPod. One of the features is that you can read books. I had to try it instantly. So I went to amazon and got the biography of Steve Jobs. Not the whole book but the teaser that they give away for free. It was unusually long and I read it all. That may have taken three hours. Finally it came to an end. It was interesting and convinced me that Jobs was not a nice guy.

Did I buy the rest of the book for $11?


Did I look for a place where I could download it for free?


Would I accept it if somebody sent me a digital copy?

Let´s stop the questioning.

I would accept the book if someone lent it to me. I would not steal it from a bookstore. I am sure the same applies to almost all of the readers. So why would honest people be tempted to take intellectual property on the Internet without paying?

I don’t know. I am sure the digital book will be a boon to writers and readers. Hopefully, most people will not steal the books on the Internet. Now it’s even possible to rent books for a limited time. It’s cheaper and works like a library.

Hopefully, sites like YouTube will not be closed down. They are fun to use. Maybe the solution is to let us pay a penny or two for every site we look at. That might add up to real money in the end, without costing the user too much.

And get Don McLean off the road again.

Benedikt Jóhannesson [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.