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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.

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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:

  1. I am [your name] the duly authorized representative of the exclusive rights holder for [book title] as listed above;
  2. These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s): [list URLs];
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. 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.

Regards,

[Your name]

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.

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.

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!

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