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, due to the problems of well-known book piracy 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 ever published has been pirated, listed on torrenting 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 and how Google has taken very little action to stop the fraudulent abuse of copies of books, especially in the United States.
But back to more recent events, and my new pirated book. It took almost no time at all for pirates to create a free torrent book download.
I did a quick Google search for my new ebook title a few weeks after publishing it.
I found the following pirate sites offering my ebook on the very 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.
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 popular authors are pirated every single 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 really 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 an email address of the registered owner of the site. You can then send an email asking for your book or books to be removed. 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 book piracy.
But be prepared to do a lot of work that may not end in a positive result for you.
You really need to decide if the pirated books 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 mobi, epub, or pdf.
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 has 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 then steal an author’s work.
They can then read the book for free, or worse, offer it on sharing and torrent sites for ebooks.
The problem is not restricted to ebooks
Here is an example of one of my earlier paperback titles being offered by a pirate.
And by the way, it is still on Google Books, even though I lodged a takedown request with Google over three years ago.
If by some chance I succeed in getting this book taken down, it would have been 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, perhaps it’s time you checked by doing a Google search.
But then again, what’s the point.
Because, quite honestly, there is nothing at all you can do about counterfeit books and pirated ebooks.
But ebook piracy is not all gloom and doom
On a positive note, though.
It is worth understanding that people who use peer-to-peer sharing or BitTorrent to access free ebooks are hard-nosed, addicted chasers, and collectors of anything and everything free.
They are highly unlikely ever to pay for anything, and especially downloaded books. So it’s not a lost book sale.
Also, file sharing sites are often infected with viruses.
Most modern web browsers now block these sites due to this risk. There is also 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 to fulfill their addictive thrill of collecting free stuff.
Public libraries are full or free books to read. But for freebie hunters, there is no fun to be had at 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 file-sharing sites for free books.
But they may see my name and title in a search result list on Google and then pop over to Amazon or Apple iBooks, out of curiosity.
Any publicity is good publicity.
Article update: Forbes reports that ebook piracy costs authors and publishers $3oo million annually.