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Serpents! Serpents! August 9, 2012

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in hypocrites-and-idiots-abound, someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet, this-is-why-we-can't-have-nice-things.
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If you’ve ever read Alice in Wonderland, you might get that reference. If you haven’t, or haven’t in a while, allow me to explain.

To quote Jefferson Airplane (back before they were a Starship), one will make you larger, and one will make you small. Sides of the mushroom, that is. And one side of the mushroom made Alice’s neck stretch so long that her head poked up through the trees and disturbed a pigeon:

`Serpent!’ screamed the Pigeon.

`I’m NOT a serpent!’ said Alice indignantly. `Let me alone!’

`Serpent, I say again!’ repeated the Pigeon, but in a more subdued tone, and added with a kind of sob, `I’ve tried every way, and nothing seems to suit them!’

`I haven’t the least idea what you’re talking about,’ said Alice.

`I’ve tried the roots of trees, and I’ve tried banks, and I’ve tried hedges,’ the Pigeon went on, without attending to her; `but those serpents! There’s no pleasing them!’

Alice was more and more puzzled, but she thought there was no use in saying anything more till the Pigeon had finished.

`As if it wasn’t trouble enough hatching the eggs,’ said the Pigeon; `but I must be on the look-out for serpents night and day! Why, I haven’t had a wink of sleep these three weeks!’

`I’m very sorry you’ve been annoyed,’ said Alice, who was beginning to see its meaning.

`And just as I’d taken the highest tree in the wood,’ continued the Pigeon, raising its voice to a shriek, `and just as I was thinking I should be free of them at last, they must needs come wriggling down from the sky! Ugh, Serpent!’ (Alice in Wonderland, chapter 5)

Okay, so why am I talking about children’s literature and/or snakes?

I’m not. Not really, anyway. I’m talking about that favorite pastime of people on the internet everywhere — jumping to conclusions based on insufficient data.

About a week or so ago, the word went out among independent and small press authors, warning about a website called Lendink.com. OMG, PIRATES!!!

Except they weren’t. I went to the site, took a look. Read the FAQ, checked out what they were about,and went “Oh. It’s a dating site for books.”  And before you ask, yes, Princes was up there.

The reason I’m not linking the site? It isn’t there any more. Because dozens of writers who did not bother to do their own research, or who did not understand how Amazon and Nook lending work, panicked. They swamped the hosting company for the website with DMCA notices, and the site was taken down.

Violet Blue talks more clearly than I can about this, in an article over on CNET.com. So I’m not really going in to what happened, or where the site came from, or who started it or why. Violet covers that nicely.

No, I’m on a bit of a rant here. Because one of my writing groups (a marketing group that I’m pretty sure is going to be my former writing group about twenty seconds after this goes live) was one of the sources of what Violet accurately calls a witch hunt.

When this broke, and people were panicking and yelling “OMG! Serpents! Pirates! Batten down the hatches and unleash the DMCA!” I pointed out that this was legal. That it was a legitimate use of Amazon and Nook lending capabilities, and it was in essence a lending library for ebooks. I wasn’t the only one pointing this out. We were ignored. We were told right off that we didn’t know what we were talking about. And one person even said that they wouldn’t want their books in a library anyway, because then no one would buy the book!

Right… that was the point when I stopped trying to make sense. I had better things to do than yell down a dry well.

When the Violet Blue article went live today, I posted it to the list. And the people who were the most vehement about how this was piracy?  Well, a couple of them are now asking what they can do to help get the site back up. And some of them… yeah…

Violet Blue has been dismissed as a shock-jock, as someone who is trying to get a rise out of people. She’s been denigrated (Little Violet? Really?), and her very accurate point that this has made indie and self-pub authors look bad is being dismissed out of hand. Even though there is a link to the Twitter thread on the subject, and the thread has been going on for days.

Look, people. I get it. Book piracy  on the internet is rampant. It costs us money. Yes, I know.

That doesn’t mean that just because it looks like a pirate, it IS. Do your research! Don’t trust that whoever is telling you that this is a pirate site know what they’re talking about!

After all, it might just be a kid who ate the wrong side of the mushroom

ETA: I just found out that the gentleman behind LendInk has been getting threatened. And so has his host company. THREATS???? For doing something that is perfectly legal? People, this is OBSCENE!

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