Friday, 13 April 2012

Author 1 - Pirates 0

Yup, this week I made it - one of my books was pirated on an illegal filesharing website. While I was revelling in hitting the "big time" I was obviously less-than-pleased that people out there were brazenly robbing my blood, sweat and tears.

Now I'm not one to lose sleep over stuff like this. I'm an indie, I'm well aware that it's an occupational hazard, but I do think we have to defend our intellectual rights where we find them compromised if we want to retain control over our work. On one level it's a compliment, on another it galls: I'll consider it a bit like a free promo, but I don't want it there indefinitely.

I sent the usual DMCA notice informing the moderator of the site that the file was copyrighted material and they were in violation of, oh...everything and I was going to sue their asses if they didn't remove it immediately. They, of course, ignored me. I was expecting that. So I did a bit of googling and found out (so I believed) who hosted the site. I fired off an email to them next.

While I waited for the powers that be to investigate, I decided (with a little encouragement from one or two authors outraged on my behalf...) to leave a comment on the forum post where my book was being distributed. I'm quite proud of what I wrote, so I'll share it with you in full:

***

Hi, allow me to introduce myself: my name is Kate Aaron, and I am the author of Four Chances: A Short Story Quartet. I spent almost two months on this book, working with a team of beta readers and editors, and between us we put something like 300 hours into writing and rewriting and proofing and revising this collection. Of that, I estimate (conservatively) I dedicated about 250 hours of my free time to it. I negotiated the rights for the cover image, which I purchased with my own money. This book constitutes a serious investment of both my time and my hard-earned cash.

I'm an indie author, which means that I don't have a publishing house behind me. I write the books, I control the proofing, the editing, the cover design, I write the blurb, I make the file conversions and I have the contracts with the legitimate distributors that offer this book for sale - Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Sony, Diesel, AllRomanceeBooks and Smashwords.

While I thank you all for your interest in my work, I would like to point out that sharing or downloading the file in this forum - or others like it - takes income directly from me. Not a big publishing house, not a faceless corporation, but lil ole me. I am not a multimillionaire, I am not - by any definition - rich. It hurts me every single time that someone shares or downloads my work without paying for it. To date, after the upfront expenses have been considered, I have made less than $0.25 an hour writing this book. Writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and every sale lost financially penalises me, directly.

I assume I am talking to readers: people who love books. I an a voracious reader myself. The revolution of epublishing is an exciting thing, and I am proud to be a part of it. If you wish to continue to read new and exciting stories by new authors, then please, please think twice before illegally downloading or pirating their works. File-sharing is not a victimless crime. We need to be able to support ourselves in order to continue writing, and by taking the revenue from us you are making it more and more difficult for us to write. If you value an author's work then please support them by purchasing it through a legitimate channel.

For those of you who have already downloaded my book from this thread, I ask that you at least consider leaving a review on a legitimate site if you enjoyed it, and perhaps consider purchasing more of my work from any one of the distributors listed above. I do offer two books for free, both of which are available through Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/fairkatrina

If you have not yet downloaded my book, I beg you to refrain from doing so. This book will cost you less than a cup of coffee from Starbucks, but its sales help support me while I write more.

To the poster: I humbly request that you remove the file share link, and those to any other books you may have posted. Continuing to offer files for free is damaging the entire epublishing industry.

I thank you all for your time and understanding

***
In the meantime, the company I thought hosted the site got back to me and advised that they didn't, it was some kind of redirection thing. Clever. However, clearly alarmed that this might affect their reputation, they ran some searches themselves and found the company who did host it. I won't mention the first company's name, as I don't want them to be sullied by any google searches linking them with online piracy, but I am eternally grateful to them.
Here's the nuts and bolts of it -- the file sharing site is http://www.dpgroup.org/ (IP 31.204.130.202) and they are hosted by a company called i3D.net. When I contacted i3D (via abuse@i3d.net) they responded almost immediately, advising that the IP address had been purchased and sold on by a reseller, whom they contacted regarding the breach. Within hours of me emailing them, the post containing my book was taken down. I was - and am - beyond impressed with their prompt and efficient response.

However, it's not enough. Granted, my book is now down from that site (as, too, is my beautifully crafted response. *sigh* One can't have everything). However, there are many, many books still being shared illegally. I have already pointed that out to i3D.
I'm spreading the word about this site, and how to have your work removed if it's on there, but I am urging people to contact the host regarding this site in general. I didn't lie in my response - file sharing might seem like a victimless crime, but it certainly isn't. I feel the loss of every single sale, as do authors everywhere. It's not just a computer file, it's our livelihoods you're compromising when you share files. We are not rich, faceless corporations, we are ordinary people who are just trying to get by.
Please, if you do contact i3D, remember that this company is not directly responsible for the actions of dpgroup.org, but that they do have the power to shut them down. Basically: don't piss them off. I have been very, very impressed with their handling of my specific complaint, and I am hopeful that they will take further complaints equally seriously. The actions of this site affect their reputation, too.
And, as a final note, if you think I've just given you the perfect place to go snag some free books - think again. I don't know what the people using this site are thinking of: do you have any idea how easy it is to trace users from a forum site? And dpgroup.org blocks all links, attachments and downloads unless you're a user who has posted at least once on the forums. Once you've registered and posted, your IP address can be traced just as easily as theirs can. Why do you think people moved to torrenting music????
Yes, there will always be pirates. This is a battle that will probably never go away. But today is a small victory, and I'm celebrating it.
_____________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of contemporary and fantasy mm romances.
Find all her books on
Amazon, ARe, B&N,  iTunes, SW, Sony, Kobo, & Diesel
Her books are no-longer available for illegal filesharing, but none of them will cost you more than a Starbucks coffee ;-)

11 comments:

  1. Good for you Kate! I loved your comment that you wrote on their site.
    As a new self publisher I had no idea that my work could be stolen so easily.
    Thank you for alerting me to this apparently ever present danger.
    Alex A Akira

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  2. Don't let it scare you too much. Yes piracy is a threat, but I'm the first to tell people to calm down when they do find pirate sites. As I proved, a little tenacity is usually all that's required to get your book removed.

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    Replies
    1. This is not true. DPGroup.org does not care about tenacity. They have all nine of my books and many other authors. If you write romance/erotica, you are in for it, big time. DMCA notices have been sent to them like crazy, and they ignore them. Please be proactive. We as writers work hard, at least I do - and this is unacceptable.

      Delete
    2. That's true of DP Group, but not of the host, who is not involved in the actions of the site and doesn't want to be tarred with the brush of piracy; hence the reason the site keeps being taken down (only to spring back up again, of course...)

      Delete
  3. Michael Booker25 April 2012 00:33

    Good job. I don't think that has happened to me yet, but I worry about it from time to time. Glad you were able to resolve it.

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  4. Sorry to say I am one of the few million people who downloaded books from free sites. But from my point of view is you do not need to worry to much about it . It is a very good way to promote and get well known. I do not only download the books but I do show my support by buying a hard copy of the books provided you are a good writer. You may not agreed on this but as a reader I would definitely prefer this way to secure the space that are left on my bookshelves are for really good books.Once I know you are really good you have no worry because the next book of yours would not be downloaded and would be hunted down from the bookstore . Sorry .

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  5. sorry . I am truly sorry for saying those things above here. I do notice my mistake . Please forgive me . I swear I did show my support by buying those books . I only downloaded the books that could not be found in any bookstore . Swear

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  6. I don't see what the fuss is about pirate ebooks. Anyone who goes to that much bother finding them then copying them onto their readers was never going to buy it anyway. Everyone else will just buy it from Amazon, B&N or wherever their reader ties them to, unless you've set the price too high.

    I doubt the number of people who download pirate ebooks will ever be as large as the number of people who buy second hand paperbacks, and nobody cares about those.

    Look at it this way -- someone thought you were good enough to put on a pirate site alongside all the famous writers. I'd be dancing in the street, not pulling my hair out. Most of what they download will never be read anyway. I've got hundreds of KDP Select titles I know I'll never look at, if everything was free there'd be thousands of them.

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    Replies
    1. You are a thief. That is what you are - no matter how you try to justify it. It takes at between a few months to several years to write a good book - and then you think you just have the right to mosey on in and steal someone's work and then you leave this lame excuse as to why us as authors, should just shrug our shoulders. THIEF! This is the same as walking into a store, stealing an item and then saying, "If I like it, I'll buy the next one so be happy!"

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  7. Stick it to them Kate!!

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  8. I found my book on their site, via Google alert, two days ago. I wasn't as level headed as you, and didn't try to contact the company behind it. Instead, I registered, contacted the mod who had uploaded the book I'd worked on for about four years, and asked that they immediately take down the book and delete the account I'd opened just to be able to PM them. They did so, impressively fast, and then I received an email from another mod saying the "review" thread of my book had been deleted. I guess that's what they're trying to pass pirated ebooks as: reviews.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. I should make one myself, for the authors on my friends-list.

    Aaaand I just realized I'm a stranger who just barged in here and left a comment. I'm sorry. So hi, I'm Sotia, and I'm a new Indie author. :)

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