Author's son: Mom slams e-book piracy but pirates songs

Anne B. Ragde, an award-winning Norwegian author, criticizes ebook piracy as theft. Sadly, her son reportedly reveals that she pirated 1,800 MP3 songs.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Hypocrisy, sadly, is not confined to politicians. It is not confined to any of those who tell us what to do, like priests, policemen, or leather-clad librarians.

Hypocrisy, you see, is one of humanity's most enduring and endearing traits.

I mention this, because of the cheery case of Norwegian author Anne B. Ragde. Ragde has written books for children. She has written crime novels. She has won awards.

And yet, like the rest of us pitiful, snarling humans, she may well speak out of several sides of her anatomy.

You see, I am indebted to Torrent Freak for telling me that Ragde gave an interview to Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. In it, she described how concerned she was about e-book piracy.

"I have figured out that I've lost half a million kronor ($72,500) on piracy of my books, maybe more," she said.

Warming to her theme, she added: "I cannot stand the thought of someone stealing something. I look at Norwegian musicians who have to do live concerts. We have nothing to live on other than the physical product."

CC BusyPrinting/Flickr

In my many dealings with Norwegians, I have found them to be scrupulously honest. They are extremely well behaved in bars, public baths, and on the beach. So I find myself pulsing with admiration that Ragde reportedly admitted that she did buy pirated purses because, well, Prada bags are frightfully expensive.

They are. One imagines they only cost a few dollars to make and then you're expected to pay thousands for the privilege of being seen with them.

However, you remember that part about Ragde's slight envy of musicians? Well, apparently Ragde's son, Jo, decided to pipe up just at the moment that his mom might have wished he'd have put on his iPod and hummed a little Gaga.

For Jo Ragde reportedly offered: "You have a pirated MP3 collection. We copied the first 1,500 songs from one place and 300 from another."

And so there we had a twist that any crime author would enjoy. Initially, Ragde apparently admitted the family enjoyed an iPod positively brimming with questionably obtained material.

However, once her (and her son's) comments were promulgated further, she reportedly first suggested that Jo was the pirate. Then she declared that, this Christmas, she would delete the iPod's contents.

I am concerned, though, that hers in an over-reaction.

Why must humans continuously try to sell themselves as good when society is fully aware there doesn't exist a member of the species who can resist the temptation of free? If you minimize the fear of getting caught, humans will steal your car, your lover and your music. Yes, they will even steal your books on occasion.

Companies like Facebook and Google understand this very fully, which is why they give us something for free and make money from our quite hideous rush to the trough.

And yet poor Ragde might be vilified because she reportedly exposed her innards in a blissfully honest manner.

Oh, Ragde, you like writing books. You want to make money out of it. This is quite understandable.

Perhaps I might suggest a line extension, something that might help sales? You could create sung versions of your books. You could sing them yourself. And then you could offer these sung versions online.

Of course, a sung version of your book might last eight or nine hours. But this might be the beginning of an entirely new genre: the modern literary opera. It's what the world's been waiting for.

People will hum sung versions of crime novels at work. They will pay good money to hear the melodic death of, say, a drug dealer or a pimp. They will sing your detective's dialog in management meetings. They will pay good money for the privilege. I'm sure of it.