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When my debut novel was released just over two weeks ago, book piracy was the last thing on my mind. In those two weeks, links to illegal downloads of Want spread like wildfire.
As fate would have it, I have a friend who is well-versed in book piracy, and I attended a writing workshop yesterday where one of the topics was dealing with the same thing. Serendipity? I think so.
Below are some of the things I learned, much of the info coming from author Candace Sams, who has been a victim of book piracy thousands of times over.
First: Do a Google search of the following:
[author name, book title, epub]
My search looked like this: “Stephanie Lawton Want epub”
UPDATE: Thanks to author Lisa Burstein, who pointed out that searching for your name, title and “PDF shared” will often return additional results, ex: “Stephanie Lawton Want PDF shared”
Second: Click through to find the file-sharing site that is actually hosting the illegal material. (If you try to take it down from every site linking to it, you’ll spend days.) In many cases, you will have to register for that site. (Ew, I know.) Examples include RapidShare.
Poke through the site until you find a way to contact them. Many have buttons that say, “Report” or “DMCA” or something similar. If not, find their “contact us” page.
Third: Send an email/form message with the following text (feel free to copy and paste this – you have my total permission!)
Attn: Copyright Agent, [list illegal file share site here]
Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c) (3) (A), this communication serves as a statement that:
- I am [your name] the duly authorized representative of the exclusive rights holder for [book title] as listed above;
- These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s): [list URLs];
- I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder’s agent, or the law;
- Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights holder for the material in question;
- I may be contacted by the following methods: [email address–many request physical addresses and phone numbers, too. I am leery of this].
I hereby demand that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible.
Fourth: Write a blog post. (Yes, like this one!) In it, make sure you embed specific terms–the same terms potential pirates would use when searching for an illegal copy of your book. Because guess what then pops up when they search [Your name, title, epub]? Yeah, the blog post. 🙂
Although it’s not as effective as embedding the actual terms in the blog post, additionally tag the living hell out of it. Look at the tags I’ve used for this blog post (near the top left, under the date). Feel free to copy and paste those, as well, and replace my name and title with yours.
Fifth: Contact Google and possibly WordPress’s parent company, Automattic. Both will remove illegal content and links to illegal content from their sites/searches.
- WordPress info: http://en.support.wordpress.com/content-theft-what-to-do/
- Google info: http://support.google.com/bin/static.py?hl=en&ts=1114905&page=ts.cs
Sixth: Add a badge from http://www.dmca.com/ to your blog’s sidebar, and possibly encourage your publisher (if they are an indie) to do the same. DMCA.com also offers increased protection for a fee. I’ve chosen not to use that option, but that may change if I publish more books. It’s a bit like placing a “This house protected by Such-and-Such Alarm Company]” sign in your yard. It’s free and it shows you’re aware of DMCA notices and laws.
Pirates will think twice before stealing any of your blog content. If you’re a publisher, even better.
There’s an example of a badge in my sidebar.
Seventh: Avoid the overwhelming urge to write a diatribe on why piracy is wrong. I know it’s wrong. You know it’s wrong. Chances are, the pirates and those who download know it’s wrong. (Although you’d be sickened by the number of people who get angry with the author and try to turn the tables with all sorts of excuses. It’s truly mind-boggling.) *deep breath*
Here’s some controversial advice I received, and you can take it or leave it. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I was advised by someone familiar with the pirating community to set up my own accounts on piracy forums and essentially “play nice” to the pirates. State that while you’re saddened your book is being illegally downloaded, ask those readers to leave honest reviews on sites (Amazon, B&N, etc.) where people ARE buying your book legally. It will help your rank. Get their support, be cool and win them over, and they’ll help you out.
I realize this is tantamount to Stockholm Syndrome, but I can also see where ranting and raving would cause pirates to start a flame war against you and your book, essentially inspiring them to leave bad reviews, repost illegal links and tell all their friends. (Yeah, my skin is crawling. I’m trying really hard not to spout off.) What’s that idiom grandma always used to say? “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Grrr.
Moving right along …
Eighth: Here are some of the most common pirating sites. I’m sure there are hundreds more, but these are the ones that returned results for me, so this is me both sharing them with you so you can search for your own stuff, and it’s also me embedding their names in my blog post. Two birds, one stone–you get the idea.
- Mobile9 (heartnett) — she seems to be especially prolific on the Mobile9 site
- Pirate Bay
UPDATE: This site is also a lion’s den of illegal files: FindFreeMedia
And now I have to stop because I think I’m going to be sick. Hope this helps a few of you take down a couple pirates. I know it’s like battling a forest fire with a water gun.
UPDATE: Thanks so one of the commenters, it was brought to my attention that you can also report piracy to the FBI through their partnership with the Internet Crime Complaint Center: File a complaint. **UPDATE** The FBI has recently changed their laws on copyrighted material. PLEASE read their fine print and proceed accordingly.**
If you have anything to add, need to correct something I’ve written here or have any other tips, please leave them in the comments. THANKS!
Lila Shaw said:
Awesome post!! I’ll be bookmarking and revisiting for sure.
I don’t agree with making nice. I’d rather ignore the pirates than do that. The idea of trusting a thief to leave an honest review doesn’t sit well with me and I doubt many would bother. Stats I read in an author’s blog says only 25% of pirate downloaders would have read the book anyway. I don’t see why an opportunist would bother writing a review. Heck, I can’t get my friends to write one.
Christie Speich (@christiespeich) said:
I don’t understand the point of the DMCA badge. People who post the content and/or people who download it are probably not going to the author or publisher’s website…and if they do, do they really care about an image on the site?
It doesn’t hurt. If they know the author is aware of piracy laws and actively monitoring their own works, they may move on to easier targets.
Julie Antonovich Reece said:
Definately plan to study this more and follow some of the good tips you’ve left for your fellow writers. Thank you so much for sharing, Stepahnie, and I’m sorry this has happened to you.
MeLeesa Swann said:
Thanks so much for the helpful info. I will be sure to look back in the future. Hope your experience with this situation is limited.
Muchas gracias for this truly informative tool of information…. I would love to have what you wrote here shared through a link on my blog? Please let me know if this is okay….gracias again…be well, Native ❤
Absolutely. Please feel free to put a link on your site.
Melissa Pearl said:
Thanks for a great post. Looks like my books are being pirated too. Will make sure I follow up. This was so helpful.
One quick question though – how do you find the file sharing site?
Thanks for your help 🙂
The file-sharing site will be the one where you click “download” and it actually starts to download. These sites are usually some sort of file-storage site — both legal and illegal. Sometimes they’ll say they offer file storage or “cloud” storage, etc.
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Nina D'Angelo said:
Thanks for your amazing post. I am in the stages of looking into self publishing vs traditional publishing for my novel and this makes a lot of great points.
The Muse said:
Thanks for the information. It brings up a lot of good points. All, which are useful for someone wanting to get into the self publishing industry
Cambria Hebert said:
This is a great article! I have been having big problems with book pirating as well… And this is great to know what to do. Thanks for the valuable information.
cambria hebert said:
Left a comment earlier but don’t see it so I will leave again! LOL. Great article. I also have been affected by pirtaing. I have been having big problems with it since my debut novel… this is really helpful information on what to do. Thank you for posting the information. Would you mind if I post something similar on my blog – I will of course reference you and leave your link? thanks!
Please feel free to link to this post and quote it!
cambria hebert said:
thanks I will! Also, I used the letter you posted on here and emailed a few sites that have my book up there and I already got responses from two sites that said they would remove the content! So thanks!
Nina D'Angelo said:
I hope you don’t mind but I am going to link this to my own blog as well because as an author I think it’s important to fight piracy
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Sandra Bunino (@SandraBunino) said:
Thanks for the info, Steph! I’m bookmarking this post.
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J.M. Blackman said:
Reblogged this on J.M. Blackman and commented:
Extremely important steps to working against piracy. Note and save!
J.M. Blackman said:
I definitely had to reblog this. This is a great guide, Stephanie. I’m just so sorry you had to even make it. Luckily, you’ve got people willing to keep an eye and spread the word to protect your work.
Don’t forget you should also report the site to the FBI, if you’re an American. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/ipr
I’ve come across a pirate site or two selling illegal books as well. A lot of these places charge a fee for faster or more downloads. They’re making money off of someone else’s hard work.
I didn’t know about the FBI thing. Thanks!
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James Lusarde said:
Reblogged this on James Lusarde.
CJ Valles said:
Stephanie, I must say you were right about serendipity. My husband found your posting right after I saw my debut YA self-publish title For Ever up on a couple of sites, including Mobile9 and Phoneky. I was so heart-broken! I’m linking to your post on my blog at firstname.lastname@example.org (along with my own post fashioned after yours). I hope that’s OK with you. Thank you so much for addressing this topic, which is super distressing, particularly for a self-published gal trying to work on a sequel.
– CJ Valles
It’s absolutely OK! Hope you’re successful in getting some of the links taken down!
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Vanessa E.L. said:
Thank you Steph for your helpful blog post. I am so sorry you have to chase these greedy pirates who feel $4.99 is too much for a book. Ugh. I have bookmarked your post!
Jo Frances said:
It’s so disheartening to discover your book on one of these sites, but it made me feel better to know there was something I can do to address the problem. Thank you! I’m posting a link to your great post from my blog.
Thank you for your blog post. I am writing my own blog about this situation of piracy as I type. This just happened to me and as a new author, all the information I could get is great.
Reblogged this on The Real Sisterhood of the Travelling Pens and commented:
Good info for writers.
Ginny Welch (aka Virginia Hull Welch) said:
Thank you, Stephanie, for your very informative post. Two weeks? Heck, my e-book was pirated within 24 hours of releasing it to a well-known sales site. Currently using info you provide here to try and get the pirates to take the links down.
Piracy is infuriating. It can mean the difference between being a self-suppoting full time author, to having to scrimp and starve to practice our craft. So frustrating. Thanks for the informative post, I’ll write something similar for my blog as well.
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http://www.viprasys.org/vb/ an underground forum. After registration process, I had hard time to get access to some ebooks category pages. It made me easier to get access when I made a donation. I got surprise to see a private page in it where tons of books are available directly from their server and If you click “Report Abuse/Send DMCA notice” option to send a notice, it says “If the files are not stored on VipraSys server you are requested to contact the actual file hosting site to get the file removed instead of sending a notice to VipraSys. Thanks!” Nice way of cheating. Hypocrats.
Helena Fairfax said:
Reblogged this on Helena Fairfax and commented:
I was going to write a post about dealing with book piracy today, but this article by author Stephanie Lawton says it all, so I’ve reblogged it.
If anyone else has any tips or additional info, or if you’ve ever been pirated, or if you use pirate sites, please feel free to comment.
Helena Fairfax said:
Thanks for the informative post, Stephanie. I have reblogged it at http://helenafairfax.com/2013/11/29/for-writers-steps-to-deal-with-book-piracy/ Have a great weekend
Bless this post! Before I continue, have a look at these leechers:
These forums need to be grounded and shutdown for good! It’s a sad view to see books being actively pirated and the DCMA enforcers still let them stays online for years. Once you’ve joined and met their post requirements, you’ll get the access to tonnes of pirated book threads. Evenmore, some of them claimed ownership of a particular book by tagging it with their initials. What a shame! Now I’ve been monitoring them and keep on sending DCMA reports.
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Reblogged this on Pen Name Publishing and commented:
It’s #WritingWednesday on the blog today. Originally, we were going to pop into talking about the fiction genres. However, in light of recent copyright infringment notifications and questions from our followers, we want to change things up.
If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to fight mobile9:
Please enjoy the following blog that we are reblogging from Stephanie Lawton (www.stephanielawton.com). The advice herein is written better than we could express with a short blog.
Maegan Provan said:
Reblogged this on Maegan Provan, Author and commented:
While there are a few of these steps I have a differing opinion on, I highly recommend reading this!