Y'all know that I've had conflicted feelings about free downloading of media. I think the Creative Commons License is a wonderful thing, and I think Cory Doctorow is simply brilliant.
But I also think that the Creative Commons License is a choice, and Cory himself admits that his way of releasing his titles online for free isn't a way that will work for every author.
I'm fairly sure that for some people, a free download will convince them to make a sale. I downloaded Cory's LITTLE BROTHER, and then promptly bought it and started recommending it to friends. I--like many other of Cory's fans--look at free downloading as a sample, or a free trial--and if I like it, I buy it.
But there are some people who consider free downloading as a right. They think it's perfectly fine to have any media for free. If it can be downloaded, it should be, and it should be for free. These people are book pirates.
For me, there's the issue of intention with free downloads. Do you intend to buy the product if you like it? Or do you intend to download it with the express purpose of not buying it? There's a big difference of people in there, and unfortunately, I think the majority are the latter, not the former.
It's a difference of attitude. And it's as hard to compromise the attitude as it is to convince a Republican to be a Democrat, or a Yankees fan to like the Red Sox, or a vegetarian to eat a chicken McNugget.
But I think Jackson Pierce is doing a good job of trying: