If you’re thinking of publishing, on-line or off line, you’ll have to be prepared for pirates. Everybody knows they’re out there—vile, malicious scum of the earth just waiting to steal somebody else’s hard work instead of getting off their lazy behind and creating something of their own. But pirates as we know them aren’t the only trouble. There are those people who will go on file sharing sites and post an entire book (somebody else’s book by the way) for free. Here’s the thing, just because you buy a book does Not give you the right to upload it to a file sharing site and give it away to people for free. That would be copyright infringement, which is illegal.
When I first started publishing on my own and my books really started to take off (we’re not talking millions sold here, but for me it was still a pretty good accomplishment) I never thought of the downside to releasing my work. I love to write. I really enjoy being able to make a living, help keep a roof over our head, and put food on the table. So when I found a passion, a.k.a. hobby, I could use to make money to support myself I was thrilled.
Along came the pirates. Dealing with pirates was new for me by way of personal experience that is. On top of the typical pirates—the ones who steal books, music, movies, art, etc., and make money off it, you’ll find the jerks who will take an author’s book and post it as a free for all on-line. Worse, you have people who will gladly sit back and download those illegal books.
After my first series of encounters with pirates I consulted my attorney—that is what I pay him for so he could at least consult yes? Yes. I learned a lot actually. I learned about the benefits of registering work with the Copyright Office—mostly that I can take whatever lowlifes I catch pirating my books right into federal court and sue them not just for reimbursement of the funds I have lost because of their thievery, but I can also sue them for my court cost. Yay! I’m on board with that. Of course being electronic there’s a little more to it than just saying, “hey I want to sue Bobby Lake Lollipop Homemaker and see there’s her page right there.” You need more than an online name which means research, investigators, really smart people who know a lot about ISP and all those other technical terms I know nothing about. In comes, the art of war—war with the pirates and other ungodly creeps who might not own up to being pirates, but they are, and they have a real penchant for stealing.
First Rule of War ~ Know your rights. If you don’t know what rights you have then how do you know what you’re fighting for?
Second Rule of War ~ No thy enemy’s location. Okay, this one is multifaceted, but basically I’m talking about knowing where your enemy is posting your books for free or for sale. Get to know the site owner’s rules and stance on copyright infringement. If it’s a legitimate site then they’ll take this seriously. But the trick is that the author will need to know that their books are being shared there before those books can be taken down. This brings me to…
Third Rule of War ~ Research is not just for perfecting your book. You’re going to have to put in some time with Google and other search engines searching for…well…you. Search for your name, the name of your book(s), anything that will help you find your stolen work. Google Alerts can be your friend, so you can check that out as well. It would be great if authors would be willing to look out for each other and alert authors to works they see being shared illegally, but not all authors are willing to do that so if you find a few willing to join in the fight and you all will look out for each other that’s great…if not, prepare to keep guard alone.
Fourth Rule of War ~ Never give up. Never back down. Never think it’s impossible simply because every day, week, or month, you find another site where somebody is selling or giving away your work illegally. Don’t let them win. You worked hard on your book and you have every right to fight for it.
Authors, artist and musicians work hard at what they do. They slave over their work to create something beautiful. Those of you stealing it, not that you care most likely, it’s wrong. Would you want somebody to come into your world, find something you love, and steal it away from you? Well, even if your answer is yes to that I can guarantee you that the author, artist, musician you’re stealing from wouldn’t answer yes. Show some respect. The world could be a much better place if we all just learned to show respect for others.