Stopping Book Piracy

Greetings, SE’ers! Beem Weeks here with you again. Today, I am going to expose those dastardly book pirates!

pirate-treasure-vector-cartoon-illustration-SBI-300337343

Pirates! They are fine for stories told within the pages of the books we read. But book piracy is another story altogether. Illegal book consumption accounts for 17% of all downloaded ebooks. This is stealing. Those who download and read books for free are just as guilty of theft as those who offer the books on hundreds of illegal sites scattered across the internet.

If you’ve ever Googled the titles of your own books or your author’s name, you’ve probably found your work being offered for free on one or more of these sites.

But now that you’ve made this discovery, what can you do about it? It’s your work. You own the copywrite.

Unfortunately, trying to stop this illegal activity completely is much like playing an intense game of whack-a-mole; the moment you get your work off one site, another pops up. It’s the consumers who feed this industry. We live in an era when too many readers feel it is not a big deal to download free books from these sites. Many are of the opinion that it’s not really stealing. They view the internet as different from real life. But this is indeed stealing. It is no different than walking into Walmart and taking a book or a shirt or a bar of soap without paying. When consumers download books from these illegal sites, they are taking money out of the pockets of those who have poured months—or even years—into creating their stories.

As writers, we are entitled to just compensation for our time, effort, and product. And it doesn’t matter if we’re an established brand name with millions in revenue or an unknown still seeking those first few sales. We did the work. It belongs to us. The work represents our blood, sweat, tears, and passion.

I first became aware of this industry while doing a Google search for my novel Jazz Baby a few months after its release. I stumbled upon a message board where the topic was Recently Read Books. One individual posted that he wanted to know where he could score a free copy of Jazz Baby. At first, I was pleased that somebody had shown interest in my work. But the messages coming from others on the board gave me another perspective. Three others chastised this man for seeking to steal from the author. They were hardcore in their stance against book (and music) piracy. “This author deserves to be paid for his work,” one of them said.

I began Googling my work on a somewhat regular basis from that day forward. I’ve found my books on numerous sites, offered free of charge, to anybody wanting to download the pdf.

When I discovered the first site, I sent an email ordering those behind the website to cease and desist in giving away my books. It worked. A few hours after the message was sent, my work vanished from their library. But then, another popped up and it started all over again. I sent this one an email as well. It worked. Then another popped up . . . Well, you get the idea.

As I said, there are hundreds of sites scattered across the internet, offering your books or your photography or your music for free. We all deal with it. Even Stephen King must deal with this theft. And while Mr. King isn’t hurting financially from piracy, he still deserves to collect on every single copy of his work sent into the world.

So, what can be done to curb this theft?

Remain vigilant. Google your work and author name on a regular basis (every three or four months). When you find your work on any of these sites, send an email demanding your titles be removed.

If this doesn’t work, contact the FBI or whatever agency is in charge of copywrite infringement in your country. If you own the copywrite, you are entitled to its protections. In the United States, the FBI is quick to deal with pirate DVD movie rings. This is most certainly because Hollywood has the financial means to make their voices heard. But that same protection applies to all material that is under copywrite. Call—and keep bothering—until something gets done.

Expose those sites to other authors you meet online. Make the entire author community aware of these pirates. Make them feel nervous about what they are doing. Keep what rightfully belongs to you!

57 thoughts on “Stopping Book Piracy

  1. I know many won’t agree with what I’m going to write, but we all must travel our own path.

    Pirating books is immoral. Companies/people that do this are evil. Readers who expect books for free when they are not offered from the author or publisher for free are opportunist. They expect many things for free. I don’t think much of them. They are the same scum that download music and don’t expect to pay for it.

    When I started this gig in 2010, I worried about my books being stolen, and every few months I searched for them online. For the hour or so I looked, sometimes finding my writing for free somewhere in the world, my mind was focussed on this negativity I could do nothing about. I’ve sent messages and nothing happened. I’ve heard stories from other writers doing the same thing. Our time and energy wasted on evil people and in the end, nothing changed.

    So I decided to be the change. I stopped looking. I spend my time writing instead. Those who download my books from these free sights weren’t going to buy them anyways, so I haven’t lost any sales. Freeloaders will always be freeloaders. I can’t change that.

    I’m currently watching someone I know post about their book pirated on a website. They’ve sent the letter to remove it, contacted people, I think they’re considering hiring a lawyer, sent more messages, spent time blogging about it, sharing their frustration, and posting on Twitter about it and growing more frustrated as time goes on. So much energy wasted on evil people. I imagine she has spent a good 20 hours on this cause, possibly more, plus her anxiety increases as time passes and nothing changes. All for a book that only scum will download from that site. Real readers will buy it from a legitimate site.

    The only way to avoid piracy is to not publish. That’s not an option for me, so I throw caution to the wind. I write. I publish. I write more, and I never search for my books online. Pirates be damned. They will not spoil my day, and I will not waste energy on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with most of your statement, Diane. I spend about an hour a month searching for those sites offering my work these days. In my own experiences, sending a cease and desist email has often worked. Sure, there are some who don’t give a damn. They think it’s their right to steal our work. But if I can close the window just a bit, I’m not getting quite as wet when it rains. I don’t waste hours and days on this endeavor. But to wave the white flag just isn’t an option. Thank you for weighing in and sharing your own experiences. Much appreciation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand why you put effort into this. As I wrote, we all need to walk the path we want to walk. However, I don’t see it as waving a white flag. I see it as giving them the middle finger. They steal none of my energy, not even an hour a year. Now if someone stole my story, changed a name or two and put it up on Amazon with a new title and them as the author, that’s a different story. I’d be out for blood, but that’s not what is happening. As for the rain, I don’t mind getting wet. In fact, a warm summer rain is something to enjoy. Happy writing. It’s the best thing since honorable knights around tables.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I belonged to a copyright protection service for a while, Beem, and they found hundreds of infringements every month and handled getting them removed. But it was a subscription service with a monthly fee that I couldn’t justify at the time. The site is no longer available (I checked). The problem is so widespread. I’m glad you had a good response to the email, but the problem is daunting. A good reminder to be vigilant and to speak up every time we see these sites giving away our books. I have all my books recorded in the US Library of Congress, so at least, no one else can claim them as theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Stopping Book Piracy | Nelsapy

  4. Hi Beem, thanks for this post. I also know about this piracy and it is a great wrong to writers, many of whom don’t make a lot from their efforts in any event. The problem is ebooks and I have limited the availability of my children’s books in that format which helps with this problem. I can’t do that for my adult novels so it remains a problem for those ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Stopping Book Piracy | Dragons Rule OK. V.M.Sang (author)

  6. Great post, Beem. It truly is a shame that as an author you need to check for piracy. I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot, they wouldn’t want that happening to them. Another item for the ever growing to do list.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I used to be obsessive about requesting piracy sites remove my work. But it was like playing whack-a-mole. I get Google alerts all the time telling me about sites where my work is free to download. I’m ashamed to say I’ve stopped following up. But you’re right, Beem. It’s a huge problem, and I should.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for bringing this topic to light, Beem. A quick Google search showed me several places where my books are being sold (one for $149! ridiculous, lol!). I was fortunate to not find any free offerings, except for The One Discovered, which is permanently free anyway. And I pleasantly found a few reviews I wasn’t aware of, so that was nice! Your advice to check every few months is great, and I will definitely do that from now on. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve found my books for sale on eBay–though not for $149. There are some people who post the book on eBay, then, if they make a sale, they order it wholesale and sell the book at a markup. I have no complaints there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Yvette.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very informative post: indeed “piracy kills creativity, steals from authors and destroy the economy”

    Hence, copyright owners, government and other stakeholders in the copyright chain of distribution must work together to fight the scourge.
    1. Respect Copyright
    2. Patronise only copyright protected works.
    3. Protect your creative works.
    4. Report pirates and their cronies, etc

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is certainly an eye-opener, Beem. Of course, I had to go and Google Flowers and Stone. 🙂 I am shocked at the number of places selling it but didn’t find any giving it away. Very interesting and something to remain vigilant about. Thanks for sharing this, Beem.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you, Beem, for this important alert. A couple of years ago, a friend contacted me about pirated copies of my books on different sites. It was a shocking revelation, something I repressed until your important reminder. I need to google my books and respond to the pirates, as you’ve suggested. Great post, Beem!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Great tips, and thank you for the reminder. Yes, authors and writers are actively in need of action, as long as companies like amazon wil not start digital signing the books. This would be so simple to fight against book, music and all piracy of intellectual property. xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I used to use an online program to send out hundreds of cease and desist notices for me. Then it stopped operating. I simply cannot keep up with the sheer volume of pirate sites giving downloads of my stolen books. It’s depressing beyond belief. Whenever I Google my books now, I feel like giving up, especially when I’ve had a flatline month of zero sales.

    Someone once said it’s a compliment. Well,I can do without that kind of flattery. The income would be much nicer, thanks.

    Great post and tips, Beem. I just wish there were more we could do. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂💕

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Great post, Beem 🙂 I’ve ran across this in the past and got them off the sights, but haven’t checked lately. Thanks for the reminder and what to do if they won’t take the books down.

    Liked by 5 people

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