Have your books or ebooks been pirated? Probably, because ebook piracy is so common now.
When I released my last book, God Has Gone Fishing, I made sure not to list my new title on Google Books. The problems regarding book piracy are well-known on the site.
However, it made no difference at all. The book and ebook pirates got to work very quickly without Google’s help.
Almost every book I have published has been pirated, listed on torrent websites, copied in pdf, illegally downloaded, or offered under another author’s name.
Ebook piracy is fast
In an earlier post, I wrote about the problems with rampant piracy on Google Books and Google Play.
In it, I mentioned that Google had taken little action to stop the fraudulent abuse of copies of books, especially in the United States.
But back to more recent events and my pirated book.
It took almost no time at all for pirates to create a free ebook download.
I did a quick Google search for my new ebook title a few weeks after publishing it.
The following pirate sites offered my ebook, with listings appearing on the first search web page.
I didn’t bother looking any further.
Please note that I have not added links to these ebook piracy sites because I refuse to give these book pirates any traffic.
On top of that, going to these sites can risk getting a computer virus. Yes, some of them can be very nasty.
Examples of ebook piracy
It doesn’t take long at all for pirates to get to work.
I don’t claim to be a popular author at all.
So I shudder to think of how many illegal copies of ebooks and books by famous authors are pirated every day of the week.
What can you do if your ebook is pirated?
How can you protect your intellectual property? Very little, I’m afraid, apart from taking it on the chin, feeling grumpy for a while, and then ignoring it.
But if you are keen to try to stop ebook piracy of your books, you can try a few avenues.
You can use a WhoIs lookup to try to find the email address of the registered owner of the site.
You can then send an email asking to remove your book or books. But in most cases, you won’t receive a reply.
You could also try to find the name of the hosting company and then contact them with your complaint.
You can also check to see if the hosting company complies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
If you want more details about these avenues, you might want to read this detailed article on ebook piracy.
But you need to be ready to do a lot of work that may not end in a positive result for you.
You have to decide if pirated ebooks are costing you a lot of sales.
In most cases, you are not losing sales because very few people download from these sites due to the well-known risk of viruses.
Does DRM help?
Most online retailers use DRM (Digital Rights Management) to protect their ebook businesses.
But it only takes a minute or two to strip DRM from an ebook, including Amazon Kindle ebooks. Then the pirates can make a copy in pdf, mobi, or epub.
Technology makes it easy for would-be book pirates. In fact, one says, “I can get any novel I want in thirty seconds.”
In another twist to the tale, illegal downloading and piracy have reduced over the years.
Music, movies, and games have all seen declines in piracy and download rates. However, ebook piracy increased over the same period.
For these pirates, it’s all too easy to download ebooks and steal an author’s work.
They can then read the book for free, or worse, offer it on sharing sites for ebooks.
Related: Forbes reports that ebook piracy costs authors and publishers $3oo million annually.
The problem is not only ebooks
Here is an example of one of my earlier paperback titles that a pirate offered.
And by the way, it is still on Google Books, even though I lodged a takedown request with Google years ago.
If, by some chance, I succeed in getting this book taken down, it would be like playing whack-a-mole.
Another one would appear to take its place.
Have your ebooks or physical books been pirated?
If you’re not sure, you only need to do a Google search.
But then again, what’s the point?
Because quite honestly, there is nothing much you can do about pirated ebooks or even counterfeit books on Amazon.
But ebook piracy is not all gloom and doom
On a positive note, though.
You could describe people who chase free ebooks as hard-nosed addicted hunters and collectors of anything and everything free.
They are highly unlikely ever to pay for anything, especially ebooks. So it’s not a lost book sale.
Also, some sharing sites are infected with viruses.
Most modern web browsers now block these sites due to this risk. But there is an issue with malware in pdf ebooks.
So yes, some will take all these risks to get a pirated copy of your ebook and download it for free.
But they will probably never read it because all they want to do is fulfill their addictive thrill of collecting free stuff.
Public libraries are full of free books to read. But for freebie hunters, there is no fun in going to a library.
It’s all rather pointless. Well, not really.
I like dark clouds with silver linings. For me, in this case, it is that these pirates inadvertently give me a weird kind of book promotion.
I get extra Google Search listings, name and title recognition, and occasionally, perhaps even real ebook sales as a result.
Most readers would never use or access dodgy sites for free ebooks.
But they may see my name and title in a search result list on Google. Then pop over to Amazon out of curiosity.
Any publicity is good publicity.
Related reading: Amazon Self-Publishing Problems And Solutions For Authors