Wednesdays with the Arts: The art of Legal Authorship

indielife7

I have been publishing for nearly two decades now off and on in local newsletters, online magazines and copywriting for big corporations. In all my years as an author I never experienced pirating until I entered the world of e-books. Not that it doesn’t happen with print books too, just with the things I wrote and the places I published, I never went through that. As they say, there is a first time for everything. When it comes to people stealing books whether you’re a newly published author or not it can still hurt in more ways than just financial.

As an indie author you don’t have big corporation lawyers behind you so you’re pretty much on your own financially for legal matters. For me, I have an attorney on retainer. I had this attorney on retainer long before I started indie publishing so I didn’t just enlist the help of the law firm for legal issues concerning pirating, but I am glad they are there when I need them. I still have to do most of my work for myself. I’m not paying somebody who sits around all day researching the many sites selling stolen material. I don’t have the money for that. But when I have trouble, I call them and get advice, and sometimes a legal take down notice when doing it on my own hasn’t yielded any results.

Will I get all the stolen books taken down? Realistically–no. But I fight the battles I can. My advice to any potential author or current author, musician artist, etc., would be to understand copyright laws—at least a little. Your work is copyrighted when you do it, so anybody who tells you it isn’t is lying to you. Check out the copyright.gov site (or the site for your country’s copyright offices) for more information on that. What I found out in my previous battles and speaking with my attorney is that the difference is what court you can take your case into should you decide to press charges. If you register your work with the copyright office you can take it into federal court. If you don’t, you can’t go into federal court, but you can still take it to court.

How to stop pirating:

The honest truth is if people didn’t buy or download stolen materials then pirates would go out of business. Apparently a lot of people like to buy or download stolen work so that’s most likely never going to happen.

Taking legal action ~ pick your battles and fight the ones you can. You may not get them all taken down—in fact, you probably won’t and by time you get one there’s probably another one to add to the list. But that doesn’t mean you should stop fighting.

I think if more authors spent less time giving a free pass to pirates with words like, “it happens,” or “people will always steal,” then maybe we can all get together and make a change. I won’t hold my breath on this, but if major companies can join forces against a common enemy then why can’t indie authors?

Until then, I will keep fighting my battles, one by one no matter how much time it costs me. I believe in my work and I believe there is no shame in trying to protect something that is special to me. Basically, educate yourself on the battles you may face in the world of publishing (especially indie publishing) and pick the ones you feel are worth fighting. Continue the hop here: http://indeliblewriters.blogspot.com/p/indie-life.html

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4 comments

    • Thank you. I agree they are important. Registering them is a good idea too, but not everybody can afford to and not everybody does it. I hope this helps them to realize they still own the copyright for their work and they do have legal actions even if they don’t register the copyright with the copyright office.

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