The Lifecycle of Your Masterpiece (or “Why Works of Art Shouldn’t Be Pirated”)

Let’s play pretend.


Pretend you’re a musician. You just got out of a three-year relationship. He broke your heart. Cheated on you, in fact. Even asked you for the ring back because it was his grandmother’s and he wanted to give it to “the one” and you weren’t it. Ouch. That hurts.

You spend weeks in a state of shock, hating him, hating her, hating yourself for wasting three years of your life on someone who didn’t deserve your love.

So after you cry it all out, you start to work out your feelings in a poem. In verse. With a chorus. The words are heavy, like your heart feels. The lyrics play around in your head for a few weeks, and as they do, a melody begins to lie beneath them. It’s faint at first, but as the words become more permanent, the tune gets louder.

You break out the guitar. You find your staff paper and pencil and start writing down the notes. The song’s in a minor key. The tempo is slow. Your sadness becomes a tangible thing that others will soon begin to feel with you.

More weeks go by as you perfect this thing that has now become a SONG. An honest-to-goodness song. And it’s spectacular. It’s not just the best song you’ve ever written. It’s quite possibly THE best song ever written. You go into a recording studio with a few other talented artists: friends that you want to take with you on what you know will be an amazing journey.

Your friends encourage you. Your family sees new hope for your future. The sadness has begun to dissipate.

Your life is turning around, and suddenly, you realize that the last three years of your life may not have been wasted at all, because without them, you would never have been able to write your masterpiece.

The masterpiece that is now on the radio.
On vinyl.
On a CD.
On iTunes.
On Spotify.
On a torrent site.
On another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.

And then you get your first royalty check, and pay the other people who helped you. You have a little money left over for a modest new silver ring to take the place of that old antique you weren’t so crazy about anyway.

And then you discover the torrent sites. You send takedown notices. Most of them comply.

But it’s already too late. Because your masterpiece is already on thousands – if not millions – of personal devices, and more peer-to-peer networks.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.
And another torrent site.

The world loves you, by the way. They all know you by now. They all know all the words to your masterpiece by heart. But so many of them have stolen that masterpiece from you. That masterpiece that you created from betrayal and pain and was supposed to bring you joy… has just brought you more betrayal and pain. And it’s confusing.

You’re proud of your song. It took you 26,280 hours of a relationship and 2,880 hours of writing to make it. And so many people take that for granted, and you can’t fathom why they would do that. Why they would steal from you.

Would you do anything differently? No. You’re an artist and you have to create. You knew your masterpiece would be enjoyed by others so you generously shared your talents with the world. The people of the world thank you for it. They just have different ways of showing it.


The purpose of this post is to try to put you in the shoes of the creator. You may not be one of the ones that pirate music, books, movies or TV shows, but if you are, please think twice about what you’re doing. If that song was your creation, borne of your pain and hard work, would you want it to be stolen? Then why steal from others?

As for me, I want to especially thank everyone who has legally obtained any of my books to help support my writing. I greatly appreciate it because it is still my goal to be able to devote all of my time to the books some day. (I still have a full time job at this point.) I have decided that I will continue to write and publish until it feels like a chore to me. I do it because it is so fulfilling and it makes me happy and whole… so thank you to everyone who reads my books!

5 thoughts on “The Lifecycle of Your Masterpiece (or “Why Works of Art Shouldn’t Be Pirated”)

  1. Fortunately, you allowed Not Today but Someday to be downloaded for free…which opened up the world of Emi, Nate, Jack and the rest of the family and friends who feel like they have become MY friends. However many more lives and stories you have to share, I’m on board!

  2. Very well said! I have never, not will I ever download a book for free! I mainly read Indie authors anyway, so the prices are very decent!
    Can’t wait til I can say I knew who Lori Otto was when she was an Indie xxx

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