Karmic Rights Management

Tom Evans is an author’s mentor, writer’s unblocker and founder of the eprint Commutabooks. Follow him on Twitter at @thebookwright.

How do you protect your books in the digital age? Tom Evans suggests an alternative approach to thinking about rights.

In case you hadn’t realised before the announcement of the Apple iPad in January, this is the decade of the eReader. The publishing industry is going through a similar transition to that of the music industry in the last decade.
In these days when you can publish direct for ereaders like the Kindle, Cool-er and soon the iPad – or just blog a story – what’s to stop anyone stealing and copying your work illegally?
Or if you submit your novel to a author community site like Authonomy, what’s to stop someone stealing your idea and writing their own book inspired by your theme?

So how do you go about protecting your books in the digital age?

Well if you think about it … you can’t really and it’s not much different from how it has been since Caxton invented the printing press. If you produce a printed book, there is nothing to stop anyone photocopying it. How many times have you borrowed a book and read it and not paid the author or the publisher a penny? How many times did you not give it back to the original owner?
For digital products, you can add password protection but there is nothing to stop someone telling someone else the password. Even if the digital rights management is tied down to a particular computer, as it is for  iTunes, there is nothing to stop people other than the purchaser enjoying the work on that device.
I am sure when you write your book, you didn’t do it in isolation of any influences from other authors, friends, colleagues or teachers.
By far the best way by far to protect your work is to look at your behaviour and modify it so it’s karmically balanced. Now I am not trying to preach here or be holier than thou – this is just good common sense and politeness and I too have fallen foul of not playing by the karmic rule book.
My seven top tips for karmic rights protection
1. Don’t run the fear your work will be copied
2. If you use a quote or concept from another writer, give them some credit in a Thanks section of your work or, at least, list their book in references
3. Be open to your payback coming back in another form other than the sale of your books
4. Don’t steal another writer’s work
5. If you like a book you borrowed, buy a copy or buy another book from the same writer
6. Give loads of stuff away for free
7. Be thankful for everything you receive

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Related blog – How to Void Karma

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Tom Evans

Tom Evans is a published author and poet who also mentors other authors in the writing and publication process. He is a specialist at curing both writer's and author's blocks - and yes, they are different. He works with clients on a one-to-one basis and runs regular Blockbusting workshops. He teaches the principles of whole brain and whole mind thinking and how to get our minds into the state where they can tap into unlimited creativity. Follow him on Twitter at @thebookwright.