The eBook Piracy Debate Gets Even More Interesting

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A few weeks ago here on eBookNewser, we had some debate about whether eBook piracy was justified if thre was no legitimate electronic edition of a book available, as is the case with Roberto Boloano’s 2666, with which our debate began. The genral concensus among eBN readers was that it is not ethical to get a pirated eBook unless one also buys the legitimate hardcover.

It turns out this is also the opinon held by a noted authority, Randy Cohen of The Ethicist column in The New York Times, who dealt with this issue a couple of weeks ago. In respones to a reader’s question about whether buying the legit hardcover justifies an illegan download for portable reading, Cohen says, “Author and publisher are entitled to be paid for their work, and by purchasing the hardcover, you did so. Your subsequent downloading is akin to buying a CD, then copying it to your iPod.”

“Buying a book or a piece of music should be regarded as a license to enjoy it on any platform,” he goes on. Then, Ars Technica takes the discussion even further in a long article about the ethics of stealing eBooks and the value of giving them away for free.

So what do you think at this point? Are there times when it’s justified to dowload a pirated eBook?