I am an author living in Texas. My Congressman, Lamar Smith, introduced a bill this fall to help protect copyrights online. I wish this effort every success.
Since 1995, I've been a published author, first under contract to Kensington Publishing and, since 1997, to HarperCollins/Avon. For the last three years, I've been watching as digital thieves began offering my books – free – to anyone, sometimes in an effort to make money for themselves (with sites such as Filesonic), and sometimes, just because they could. "Love Karen Ranney's books – here they are, all thirty of them!"
For the last three years, I've been watching my royalties drop, even as I actively fight digital thieves. Each month, I routinely take down between a hundred to two hundred links to my "free" books. Each day, I go to twenty-seven digital thief sites (I refuse to call them pirates – they're thieves). Each day, this costs me an hour to an hour and a half of work time.
As a writer, I am often frustrated when I hear people justify illegal downloading by claiming that no one is hurt from piracy – or that "all information on the Internet should be free, man." Guess what? I don't create information. I create entertainment, with my imagination and by sitting in a chair for twelve to sixteen hours a day, day after day.