I was searching for a book the other day and came across a site that had hundreds upon hundreds of books posted for free reading. I don’t know how to tell if the site has permission or not to post all these books; I somehow doubt they do.
Piracy is something we don’t talk about often enough, in my opinion. People steal cable. They steal post it notes. They piggy back (read: steal) the neighbor’s internet if they aren’t smart enough to password protect their connection. But like clouds in a storm, these sites are vast and nebulous. Shut down one, two more pop up.
Like social media, trying to stay on top of such things takes away from the thing that gives these sites something to steal: the writing.And it angers me that I know have to take more time away from my writing to check how many of these sites are STEALING my work. Yes, stealing. It’s infuriating because I don’t think most readers consider it theft. They see it only in terms of themselves saving money. Where do you think these books come from?
So what do we, as writers, do about it? How do we save our work from this theft without spending hours each week searching the internet for pirated copies of our book=s?
Know your rights. This is important because laws can vary by state but the global economy is making things a little more standard in my opinion. If you are published through a publisher, they may be able to help. If you are self-published, it’s all up to you. But generally it will be, whether you are self-published or traditionally publishes or a hybrid. Publishers are more hands off these days and rely on the author to be their eyes and ears.
Cease and desist. I got to write my first cease and desist letter this week. The wording is inconsequential. Basically, it said you are stealing my work product and violating my copyright by illegally posting my work for download. Stop, or me and my publisher and lawyers will get involved. Some examples are here. It can’t hurt to check the laws both in your state and the state the site is supposedly based out of but with the ways domains are set up, sometimes that’s difficult to ascertain.
Get savvy. This is the hardest for me because I have no interest in learning the ins and outs of sites like YouTube. But apparently YouTube is big for advertising pirate sites. That’s the bad news. The good news is that YouTube has strict policies against piracy and infringement and are listed as acting quickly. There’s a little flag button on a video and the rest is self-explanatory. Just follow the prompts.
Monitor your titles and name. Google has a feature called alerts that can email you when your name or title is entered into their search engine. You can follow the steps for an alert. I’ve set up one for my titles and my names, but haven’t gotten any hits yet so can’t tell you if it works, or what the results are. But google yourself and your titles and see what comes up.
This is just a starting point. I don’t think I can list recognized pirate sites without incurring my own cease and desist letter, so I would hope that authors would find ways of sharing these sites with other authors. There has to be a way.