But the reality is that my book sales on that first tome of knowledge were and have been largely unaffected by piracy. The sales were what they were.
But I am a bit more troubled by on-line note-sharing sites. The Montreal Gazette has a story today about a couple of McGill students putting together a new site, Note.Sac, for the buying and selling of class notes. Yes, this is an old business in a new form, but I guess it bothers me that this kind of intellectual property theft is not seen as problematic as the more well known forms. Why?
- It is perhaps less obvious that the effort one puts into lecturing is creative, compared to the text of a book. So, this kind of piracy actually contains a bit more dis-respect than other forms.
- The note-takers/sellers may be doing the students who purchase a disservice since they may not get right what I said, how I said it and what it might mean. Sure, buyer beware and all of that, but note-taking services have no real accountability.
- Perhaps most annoying of all--for my big intro class where a note-taking seller would seem to have the most added value and biggest market, I do plenty to help out students who miss a lecture or two or three--posted slides, each lecture is automatically recorded and posted, I have TA's to explain stuff, and my own office hours.