Someone stole my book!
I can’t believe it. There are online sites giving away Dollar Signs and not paying me a cent!
How I found out:
I subscribe to a Google free online tool called Google Alerts: https://www.google.com/alerts I receive an email when a possible negative post or online action effects my name, my book title, or anything to do with my brand. Most of the time, a blog or review show up. But, a few months ago, and every month since, a different site has posted my book as available for free. I discovered that anyone can download a pdf and read it without paying anything!
What I did:
The first time I saw the pirate site, I contacted the publisher and made them aware of my copyright at the U.S. Copyright Office: http://www.copyright.gov
In order to do this, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA has a takedown process: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca. It requires that notice must:
- Be in writing (hardcopy or digital);
- Be signed in writing or via electronic signature, by the copyright owner or agent;
- Identify the original copyrighted work or works;
- Identify the material that is infringing on your copyright;
- Include contact information;
- Include a statement the information in the notification is accurate;
- Include a statement your complaint is in “good faith;” and
- Include a statement that under penalty of perjury you are authorized to act.
It is simple to report a violation and have the allegedly offending book taken down. Unfortunately, this DMCA takedown process must be repeated for every site promoting the sale or distribution of the free book.
So, the day after I went through the process to have Dollar Signs removed from the pirating site, it sprung up for free on another site, then another, and another.
The thought process and future possibilities:
As an attorney and a woman with strong convictions, I do not normally allow others to take advantage of my rights. And, if large sums of money or numbers of distribution start to become evident, I will continue to avail myself of the DMCA process. Remember that anyone downloading the book leaves a trail and can also be prosecuted for theft.
For now, I have decided to keep a running list of all pirating sites, and save my time and energy in pursuing these small-time thieves. There is nothing to prevent me from taking action in the future if there is a shift in numbers of downloads. Also, a concerted effort to sweep multiple sites at once may be on the horizon by enforcement officials.
What you may do:
If you are a writer and feel differently, I encourage you to contact a Copyright Infringement Attorney in your jurisdiction. However, you might consider leaving your book available to those who would not pay or could not pay for it, and count this as a part of doing business in the publishing world. Allowing the online pirating may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it is not without some benefit to building a brand and keeping SEO active. And, the time may be better spent writing another book.
If you are a reader, maybe contemplate the Golden Rule and consider how you would feel if someone stole your work or your ideas.