1. All my books get pirated. Every book gets pirated. I find it humorous more than anything else. But that people who call themselves Christians would download a pirated book is very irritating. Don’t be that person.

  2. Travis Perry says:

    While I’m in agreement with your absolutist interpretation of stealing, I am a bit surprised to see you being so firm about this…it almost seems LEGALISTIC of you 🙂

    • Brian Godawa says:

      Aha! one of the excuses Stephen forgot to write!

      You must not steal.


    • Properly firm yet gracious application of God’s law ain’t legalism. 🙂

      • notleia says:

        Unfortunately that is not an answer that we can’t use to yank your chain at some point. (Smiley face of ambiguity here)

        • Ma’am, as we’ve gently/not gently prodded you about before, you’ve often come off as the most legalistic person in this webzone. Ah well, we are all in process, learning to embrace Jesus’s grace together. 🙂

          • notleia says:

            Who’s “we,” exactly? You’ve prodded, for sure, but I figured it was mostly because I have no particular respect for reasons that boil down to “because authority figure said so,” which seems to be your favorite reason, bless your heart.

            • I’m not sure what you’re referring to. The authority figure I’ve cited in our previous discussions is Jesus Christ.

              “Question authority” is a rather cute notion on which to base one’s life, because what it really does is simply establish the self as ultimate authority. (How do you think those other bad authority figures got there in the first place?)

              • notleia says:

                I mean, I get it, in the culture you’re used to, he who clobber-verses the hardest and cites fancy dead white guys like Aquinas and Luther the hardest wins, but there are reasons why appeal to authority is a fallacy. If only because two can play at the clobber-verse game:

                1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV): “but test everything; hold fast to what is good.”

                It’s a false dilemma to insist that self vs this particular authority is the only game to play. I’m not particularly afflicted by Dunning-Kruger, I’m well aware of the limits of my knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that I need to defer to every two-bit Calvinist with a Bible College degree (which may or may not be you — you might be a three or four-bit Calvinist :P). As much you might want to claim that you borrow your presumed authority straight from the dirty sandals of Jesus himself, I’m not buying that, because from here it looks like you’re authority is borrowed from a century-ish of fundamentalist thought grafted onto five-ish centuries of Calvinism, three of which filtered through the lens of English Dissenters. And I don’t have much confidence in fundamentalists nor Calvinists, if only because they use lame arguments like appealing to authority.

              • All that is possibly true of anyone who claims to be basing his views on the Bible. In that case, we would need to actually refer to the Bible itself and see whose views are better reflected in the text.

                For example, in a previous exchange, I referred to Jesus Christ’s words fully endorsing the Genesis view of God-created one man/one woman marriage. That’s one of the absolute clearest biblical views that flies against the popular and novel redefinition of sexuality and marriage.

                At that point, it’s actually risking arrogance to claim that the person who accurately quotes Jesus is actually the bad one. Certainty of biblical truth is not tantamount to arrogance, “Calvinism,” “fundamentalism,” or any other labels that do not even apply here. I am not arrogant; I hold beliefs that predate Calvin; and I am not a cultural fundamentalist and have spoken against many of their notions. Anyhow, I think that if you strongly felt this way, you wouldn’t keep coming back because cultural-fundamentalist blogging is indeed a turnoff—not just based on personal dislike, but based on biblical reasons.

          • Travis Perry says:

            Sir, Notleia is often dismissive and mean, but she is not a legalist or legalistic, at least not in regard to religion. She’s much closer to anti-nomian on religious matters than legalistic.

            She does refer to modernistic absolutes she cannot prove like the main differences in gender come from culture, toxic masculinity and patriarchy are the main sources of evil in the world (note I disagree on the “main” but not that these things can do harm), and other modernistic principles a number of modern folks hold to in near-absolutist terms with little to no proof.

            Though dismissing an appeal to the authority of the Bible clearly is a non-Christian approach to answering questions of morality. Everyone–and I mean “everyone I have ever heard of” (and I’ve heard of a lot of people) who calls himself or herself “Christian” finds at least some minimal value in at least some part of the Bible. Appealing to what the Bible says, even for those Christians who often sharply disagree with the Bible, is something all Christians understand. ALL Christians get that someone else who is Christian might want to appeal to what the Bible says. Even if that person thinks the quotation is wrong or misinterpreted or does not apply or is mistranslated or whatever.

            Yet, Notleia is pulling that “appeal to authority” line on an overtly Christian website. Why does Notelia even comment at all on Speculative Faith? This is a site for Christians, right? Notleia does not seem to qualify as one, to evaluate based on the things she says.

            E. Stephen, I know it might seem “legalistic” of you to block her from commenting, but perhaps the time has come to do so. It’s ridiculous on a Christian site for a person, in this case you, to get attacked for making an “appeal to authority”–when that person has in fact quoted the Bible.

            • To be fair, though, when people appeal to what the Bible says, it often gets into a ‘my interpretation is better than yours’ contest. Regardless of what she thinks of the Bible, I think some of what she says comes from observing a lot of situations like that. Or people acting like their interpretation is DEFINITELY the truth when it actually might not be.

              I honestly hope that if any banning goes on, notleia is given a chance to respond first at least…

              • notleia says:

                Eh, I doubt I could say anything to convince them otherwise. But I’d hold some kind of record for longest active time before banning. Even Tiribulous got bored and wandered off before they ever gave hints of banning him.

              • I’m not sure if I was on this site when that person was here. I guess I partly said that about giving you a chance to respond because it would be the reasonably fair thing to do, especially since people have mistaken your beliefs at least a bit in the past.

                Well, if you do ever get banned, feel free to drop a comment on my blog and we can figure out a way to chat now and then if you like.(clicking on my username on this site should take you there) I haven’t been blogging regularly, but I do check on it now and then and should notice any comments that crop up.

              • Travis Perry says:

                Indeed Notleia–I take you seriously. You are are real person (whatever your real name is) who has real opinions that have the ability to have real effects on people who listen to them. Unfortunately, those affects seem to me to be in the direction of steering people away from Christianity as it is understood by virtually everyone.

                I have spent a lot of time defending ideas I believe are true with you in hopes you would come to some sort of agreement with these concepts over time. But have you ever actually really met anyone in the middle in these verbal exchanges? Not much–certainly not with me, anyway.

                Though we could say in fairness that you’ve had very little effect on my opinions as well. But you have actually had some effect…

                Anyway, the suggestion to ban you is simply based on the idea that this site is as I understand it for the purpose of helping and encouraging Christians, not to have them verbally mangled and massive doubts thrown at them, as you do on a regular basis. I would hope E. Stephen would not allow a sense of wanting to avoid seeming legalistic to keep him from doing what I would say clearly makes sense.

                You’ve been afforded a massive dose of patience and tolerance. It’s had no effect. Perhaps the time has come to move past this stage of the same old thing on these comments, over and over. That was the basis of my suggestion to E. Stephen.

                But if you are going to hang around, I’ll still keep talking to you. I am not really one to shun people or treat them as sub-human. Even though I suggested this site might be better off without you and I really meant it.

                Again, not that I hate you. On the contrary.

                Not that I wouldn’t have a long conversation with you about whatever you wanted to talk about in person. But not everyone who reads this site is like me–some people are fairly likely to be led astray from what we can call orthodox (with a small “o”) Christianity by what you say.

                And I think you know that. I think that’s part of why you comment–you have your own agenda, one that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ, his gospel, or glorifying God. Why should this site enable you to pursue that agenda?

            • notleia says:

              I’m, like, weirdly flattered by parts of this, couched in as many backhanded insults as it is. But turnabout is fair.

              Believe me, I do question why I come back. Bainespal isn’t here anymore. DM Dutcher isn’t here anymore. I do like talking with Autumn, tho. And for all your faults, you at least take me seriously instead of just trying to put me in my place, and I do appreciate it, tho I laugh at the impression you seem to have of me.

              • It’d be stupid to ban notleia.

              • I can’t recall that we’ve ever had to ban anyone.

                Of note for Travis: I’m using “legalistic” in a common and even secular sense to demonstrate that it is a human impulse to make up rules and then kinda act like God (somewhere, sometime) actually made them up. My intent is to provide a reminder that nobody gets righteousness points for pointing out “the church is bad” or “the church is legalistic.” Outside of Jesus’s specific saving grace, we’re all trapped in the rat-race of self-made religion.

                notleia, you reflect positive aspects of God’s image, including creativity, a love for engaging with others, and a sense of snark that is often winsome. We’re often allied in dislike of abuse and other false beliefs within professing Christian communities. Which is fantastic.

                When I do quote from Scripture, however, that’s not appealing to a human being. If and when I do quote affirmingly from a human being, that person’s words must also be tested by God’s word.

              • notleia says:

                Re: last paragraph

                Texts, especially scripture (uncapitalized because it happens to non-Christian scripture, too) are manipulated by people just as soon as they’re put to paper. The Council of Nicaea was a manipulation, for better or worse. What’s the difference between the apocryphal gospels and the Pauline epistles that were not written by (the entity known as) Paul? What if the Council decided to chuck out Revelations (they nearly did), besides Ted Haggard having to find some other way to finance his third vacation home than with dehydrated slop bucket food?

                That’s why I think we need to judge on RESULTS (or “fruits” if you want extra church-lady points) more than dumb purity flexes that almost inevitably lead to dysfunction and abuse. Why should I care about purity of theory if it sucks in practice?

                Another reason is more abstract, but it’s basically the dynamic between is God good because he does good things, or are things good because God does them? You seem to favor the latter, and I do not care for that. What would then be the difference between obeying Yahweh vs Sithrak?

              • So, what’s your fruit? All I see is a cranky “Whitey McMayonnaise.”

            • notleia says:

              Also re: patriarchy

              It’s not that patriarchy alone is what’s ruining everything. It’s that it causes inequality/oppression from being an unjust hierarchy, and unjust hierarchies are what ruin everything.

              Plus, contrary to what you might think, I don’t feel terribly qualified to talk about racial oppression beyond merely explaining theories, since I am a Whitey McMayonnaise. I can totally post more links to articles by black people who are meaner than I am, tho. Economic/social status is another inequality, but I feel that’s not much relevant to this space because we are all variations on paycheck-to-paycheck peasants. [[[[eat the rich]]]]

              Also patriarchy is the one that bleeds even into the nuclear family dynamic, where it’s even harder to escape.

              PS: Tho it’s kinda funny to see all these dudes advocate for traditional patriarchy when the primacy of the nuclear family is a very modern idea. TRADITIONAL patriarchy would mean that even they would be under their dad’s or grandpa’s or great-uncle’s thumb until he kicked it. Does that sound like fun, not having significant control over your life and/or money (depending on the bungholery of the particular relative) till you’re 60 or older?

  3. Brian Godawa says:

    Simple. Profound. As a best-selling author who is also massively pirated, I thank you.

  4. Christianity has only Two Commandments.
    Stealing from someone is a clear violation of the second.

  5. EricS says:

    Thanks for writing this. Very good points…or one point. I don’t think there’s a single book out there that’s not pirated, but piracy can be very harmful and is certainly against God’s laws.

  6. Jay DiNitto says:

    Gonna play devil’s advocate: it may be stealing, but not necessarily according to the ancient Hebrew definition. Electronic files are not scarce; they are infinitely reproducible. It wouldn’t fall under that commandment since they had no conception of stealing something that’s not a scarce material item. It makes as much sense as using “though shalt not suffer a witch to live” against piracy.

    • notleia says:

      Now I’m imagining internet pirates taking on witchy aesthetics. I don’t think any of them would have a problem with that.

    • Labor is not infinitely reproducible. Time is the most valuable resource we own. All the copyright lawyers are laughing now.

    • Here’s a very Biblical, even New Testament response to the idea of “stealing something that’s not a scarce material item”:

      “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” (James 5:4)

      I could also bring up an idea that’s introduced in the Old Testament and repeated (twice!) in the New, explicitly to show how it applies to human beings: “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain.” (Deut. 25:4, 1 Cor. 9:9, 1 Tim. 5:18)

      Writers are workers. Refusing to pay people who have worked hard to provide you with the goods you are currently enjoying is robbery. I don’t think the ancient Hebrews would have had any difficulty in understanding that, and we don’t have any excuse for not understanding it today.

  7. People will always find excuses to justify taking what they want.

    What people don’t understand is that, even if ebooks take but minutes to steal, and the author doesn’t have to spend money to get them printed(though they might have a distribution fee or something.) Everything they make represents a lot of hard work, training and passion. It takes years and often working through tons of discouragement and self doubt to finally go pro. Learning how to write or draw well takes a lot of time, and truly people never stop learning. That aside, each story takes a lot of work and in many cases is beloved by its author. For an indie, their hard work doesn’t stop after the book is published. There’s always marketing, responding to fans, managing finances(and employees if they have any) and the pressure to write the next book, because if someone is an indie full time, they usually have to be producing constantly.

    It’s kinda cruddy that fans think it’s ‘mean’ or ‘petty’ to expect the readers to pay a couple bucks to own a copy of the story. And if the fan can’t pay, they can still support authors by reading and requesting books from libraries and elibraries or whatnot. To an extent I understand if there’s a lack of availability or something, but maybe at least be willing to actually buy the book/check it out at a library once it is available? Also, depending on where an ebook is pirated from, there is also a higher chance of getting one’s computer infected.

    Some of the excuses to steal ebooks are partially due to people’s attitudes against successful people and businesses too, it seems. Which is especially cruddy, because even if it was valid to steal from someone just because they are successful, that doesn’t work very well for the growing number of small indie writers out there. When people look to steal ebooks, they probably aren’t going to check if the author is financially prosperous before they steal.

    Honestly, as a fan and consumer of media, I can understand both sides of it. There have been one or two cases(years ago) where a family member downloaded a pirated ebook for me. But, that was a rare occurrence, and doesn’t happen anymore. In fact, a couple months ago a friend of mine offered to send me the files for a band’s new album, and I politely declined. I knew that if I actually owned copies of the songs, I wouldn’t buy them later. On the other hand, I don’t mind listening to music on YouTube for free because, number one that’s how I discover music in the first place. Number two, I probably will buy all my favorite songs some day when I’m not broke :p. Lately I’ve also been trying to listen to music posted on the official youtube channel of the bands in question, in order to support them.

    Honestly, pirating wouldn’t bother me nearly as much if most pirates didn’t devalue creatives so much and would later actually buy copies of the works they pirated(some people do, but I doubt it’s a common, traditional practice) But most people probably don’t feel like buying a copy when they already got one for free. But regardless of people’s reasons, whether or not the author can handle being stolen from or not, stealing so frivolously is very boundary breaking. It shows a lot of disrespect toward the person being stolen from, and one can’t expect authors not to react to that, especially since in every other circumstance people will cry out ‘We need to get paid fair wages for our work!’

    Unfortunately, people tend to take advantage of artists. Honestly, it can be one of the most thankless industries to be in, especially if one is a digital artist/illustrator within certain niche communities.

    • Good points. To add on, it’s impossible to tell people’s financial situations from the number of book reviews, etc. Some books pull a huge profit with hardly any reviews. Some books look like they were huge, but barely broke even. Every book that’s worth two cents had thousands of dollars poured into it, and hundreds of hours of labor. There’s something called “opportunity cost.” It’s basically the dollar amount associated with doing one activity instead of another. Factor that into even successful books, and 90+% of book projects are “in the red.” You have to be an idiot to think you’re entitled to be angry about having to pay for a legitimate product. It’s very hard to make a living as an artist. And even though services like Spotify pay musicians for streams, it’s a bit like peeing on a guy with a mortal wound to try to get the infection to go away. For a stream (pun not intended) on Spotify of an entire song, the artist gets less than half a penny. So, for a 10 song album being played straight through, that artist will get paid less than 5 cents. Pardon my French, but if I were a musician, I’d be thinking, “Screw that.” No one can live off that. Recording an album takes at least $10,000. And that would actually be really cheap. You’d need well over 2 million streams to make back just the $10,000 cost associated with creating the album, not to mention making enough to buy a single peanut butter jelly sandwich, or pay for gas, or lodging, or insurance, which is horribly expensive when you’re “self-employed” as an artist. It’s just stupid how entitled people feel to rip off honest artists.

      Still, basically all music artists are fine with people streaming on Spotify or YouTube, because it IS a revenue stream for them, and they’re just happy to get anything. Also, on YouTube, if you listen to an artist’s album on a channel not run by that artist, that artist still gets 80% of the ad revenue so long as the rights have been claimed.

      And Autumn’s right, being a digital artist/illustrator is arguable one of the most difficult lines of creative work. It’s ridiculously hard.

      • Kirsty says:

        I prefer to buy my music outright. If I buy an album a month it costs similar to a music streaming service, but the artist benefits properly. And I can still listen to music on YouTube or Amazon music in addition.

      • Yep. And a book can look super popular and have a huge fandom, therefore making an author look rich and ‘ok’ to steal from, but in reality, a lot of their ‘fans’ could just be pirates 😛

        And another part of opportunity cost has to do with what products a person chooses to make and whether or not making that product keeps them from making/profiting more off another product. For some artists…that could eventually come down to the question of whether it would actually be better for them to work some cruddy minimum wage job instead. For digital artists, it can be difficult to even know if they’ll get paid for this amazing piece they spent hours on, because for all they know the customer will skip out or do a chargeback or whatever.

        In a lot of ways, art of many types is getting cheaper and cheaper to consume. Many artists don’t mind because it helps them reach more people and stuff, but if they are making their art available for super cheap, they have to make up for it with the quantity sold…and that’s a lot harder to do when so many people are ripping them off and pirating their work.

        What people don’t understand about creative industries is that it isn’t just hard work that makes it difficult. A lot of stress comes from the emotional toll it often takes. Artists often share a lot of themselves, their deeply personal works and stories, etc with the world. That’s not to say that it isn’t stressful in other industries and that other people don’t put their all into their work, but an artist sometimes has to wonder why they should keep sharing with the world when they just keep getting taken advantage of.

        To a great extent, art is getting cheaper to make as well. I’m sure a lot of indie musicians could make albums for cheaper than 10k, or at least will be able to do so in the future. But it still takes a lot of time, passion and expertise, especially for indies that have to learn how to buy, install and use the equipment themselves.

        • The normal cost to do a good album generally still runs between 20-30k to do it at a professional level. The 10k would be if you were DIY’ing almost everything. Most mere mortals can’t play every instrument themselves, engineer, run their own home studio at a high level, mix and master their work, and publish effectively with good cover art, etc. Just mastering runs $100-$150 per song on the cheap end. Mixing is much more expensive. Paying any musicians? Yeah, that’ll be $150 per song, per musician. If you’re renting a studio, day rates are multiple hundreds of dollars for anything of quality. Many times that doesn’t cover the engineer’s wages, either. (I still function as a pro studio musician from time to time + was a full-time touring drummer for awhile, so I know this space)

          But yeah, you’re completely right on all that other stuff. And I totally agree on the emotional toll. People are so flippant about art. It’s honestly very hard to deal with. There’s a billion things to be depressed about a week after launching any creative project into the world. I really didn’t expect it to be that way. But it is.

          • I wrote a reply to you a bit ago, but I think SpecFaith ate it…trying again.

            I guess I should be glad I’m not a musician, then 😛 A lot of things in industries tend to get cheaper and easier as time goes on, but since I’m not really in the indie music scene, I can’t say what I think those things would be. Music has always seemed rather hard to me, though, so I admire the creativity and technical knowledge that goes into it.

            Man, though, if studio costs were that much and I was serious about doing indie music for a living, I would probably put building my own studio/buying my own equipment as rather high on my list of goals. The upside would be that I could also rent out the studio when I’m not using it.

            Something I forgot to mention earlier is that Youtube seems to benefit musicians by providing a way for them to advertise live events. At the bottom of official music videos, I see the next concerts advertised, along with links to purchase tickets, etc. So maybe focusing on live events could be the way musicians could make a decent amount, but then that isn’t the most efficient use of time and resources. Live events are tiring and expensive, and the musicians wouldn’t really be able to make money off them after retiring.

            • Yeah, actually you’re right, live events are the only way musicians make money these days. And it’s about 80% merch sales for a ton of them. Not ticket sales (that just pays the venue, etc.). That’s why every band is touring 300+ days per year. It’s also why I stopped doing music full-time. Because it’s wrong to destroy your family for your own selfish dream of “success” – whatever that means. But idk, it IS easy to get hired as a work-for-hire musician. Especially in churches in bigger cities. I was making $500+ per week just playing at a couple churches. Get to be friends with other musicians, and if they respect your playing, they’ll trade gigs with you when they’re not available, vice-a-versa. I traded gigs with the drummer for Owl City in MN – meaning when he was asked to play at a church, and he was already taken, he’d refer them to me. But he was better than me, and he’s still at it full-time (single, living basically the homeless drifter life, going from gig to gig, living in a touring van, etc.). Seems a lot harder to get consistent work as a visual designer than as a musician. But it’s always hard to make a living as a creative, no matter what. I cut my teeth practicing 4-6 hours per day for years. Now I have the skillset, and can use it when I want to, and am not dominated by the tyranny of doing it professionally. I feel like I dodged a bullet. Which is funny, because my dream when I was younger was to do it fulltime. Until I did. And realized it was rough. And honestly not that rewarding.

              Studios are more than just equipment. It’s also about placement, whether you have any roads nearby (low frequency noises like truck engines, etc., bleed through terribly in recordings), and also the types of rooms you have. You need big rooms for stuff like capturing natural drum tones, etc. I have my own home studio where I record, edit, and publish my own audiobooks, and my wife and I record music. But I can’t record drums in my kitchen. And at certain times of the day, birds are chirping, and it’s impossible to record vocals. Then again, if you go straight digital production, you can do a lot. Depends on your aesthetic/genre. My wife and I like more organic music. Meaning actual grand piano rather than straight keyboard, raw vocals done well rather than pitch-corrected to high-heaven, and natural drum tones captured with actual mics, rather than triggered samples (which is what everyone in the universe is used to hearing, without knowing it).

              • Eh, yeah. At some point, when I have a house of my own, I’ll probably end up setting up a little mini sound recording studio for voice acting and audiobook recording. Thankfully, that’s a lot more within hand.

                Playing on a keyboard feels weird to me. When I was little and took piano lessons I tended not to like it, and I would sometimes hear the keys themselves making noise. Not sure how to describe it…but yeah, if going for an actual piano sound I could definitely see how a real piano would be better.

                As for work as a visual designer…that’s going to depend on a lot, like the person’s particular skillset, business model, how long they’ve had to gain followers/customers, etc. If someone is savvy with online art communities, their customer base could be all over the world. And the fact that they can keep their costs low and work from nearly anywhere is pretty important. Also…I wouldn’t recommend that a visual designer solely count on commission work to keep them afloat. It’s very hard work combined with the difficulty in actually getting ahead. That’s one reason why I’ve chosen to focus on my stories/comics. Once they’re finished, I can have some semblance of passive income. Once I finish a product, I can keep using it over and over, whereas with commission work I’d usually just get paid a small fee and that’s it(unless the person was paying in royalties).

                From what I can tell, though, there seems to be a lot more resources out there for visual designers of all types(tutorials, free open source computer programs, cheapish but useful equipment, etc etc) I would guess it’s easier to find a cheap artist than a musician, so maybe musicians have less competition just because learning visual arts is probably cheaper and therefore has more people getting into it.

  8. Dawit Belachew says:

    Hey i’m here to ask please answer to me as much as possible .I am living in Africa (Ethiopia) and my college teacher sent a book in PDF to refer it for assignment on his course. In our country having access to buy such product costs much and takes time also. what must I do ?

What do you think?