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The Sincerest Form of Flattery


The Sincerest Form of Flattery

by Kenneth Lyen

I received an e-mail today asking if one of my blog entries could be reproduced and republished elsewhere. Delighted that others were reading my works, I readily gave my permission.

In fact requests to reproduce my writings have come regularly, albeit not that frequently. As a writer, I get a kick when people tell me that they’ve read my stuff.

Curious about where my materials are being reproduced, I did a Google search. To my amazement, I discovered a couple of websites where my articles have been copied, without my permission. I’m not upset by this. Quite the opposite. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

So I did another search to find some of the books I’ve written. I discovered that several of my books were pirated and sold in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Again I was absolutely delighted. It meant that what I’ve written was good enough to be pirated. Surely that is one of the highest accolade a writer can receive! If my words can help others, and not just line the pirates’ pockets, I’ll be happy.

In contrast, some of my writer friends are intensely angry when they find that their works are lifted by others. I tell them that they should not look at piracy so negatively. Of course I’m aware that most writers depend on the sale of their works for their livelihood, and piracy robs them of their potential income.

However, for me, the way to fight piracy is to persuade the publishers to sell my works at an affordable price. Plus if I keep on writing, I should be one step ahead of the pirates, with luck. If my arms are twisted, I would side with authors and publishers, and give them my moral support to clamp down on piracy.

Secretly I would think to myself that if it weren’t for the pirates, far fewer people would read what I’ve written. And to be read, surely, is the reason why I write. Perhaps pirates aren’t so bad after all? Shhhh.... don’t tell my publishers this!

24 January 2005