Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Writers' Wednesday: Tracking Down E-Pirates

Today, a short rant on e-piracy. What is it? Basically, it's copyright infringement - offering electronic files (usually for free) that you do not own the rights to. You can find ebooks, audio, and video files all over the Internet that you can download without paying for them, thanks to "torrent" sites like

Why is it so bad? I mean, people share books/music with their friends all the time, right? If I want to read a book, and a friend has it, then why shouldn't I borrow it if I can, instead of buying it? I understand that, I really do. But think about: when you buy a book, how many people do you loan it to? 2? 5? On the Internet, piracy sites abound. Within a week of my new ebook, The Promise of Paradise, being available on Amazon, I found listed for free on at least 10 "torrent" sites.

To give an idea of how many freely downloaded books that potentially represents, and more important, how many lost sales, here's an excerpt from the article "E-Piracy: The High Cost of Stolen Books" by Karen Dionne:

"Lost book sales can't be quantified, making it impossible to calculate the full cost of e-piracy, but the sheer number of illegal copies available for download gives an idea of the scope of the problem. At one file-sharing website, users have uploaded 1,830 copies of three books by a popular young adult author. Just one of those copies has had 4,208 downloads. On the same site, 7,130 copies of the late Michael Crichton's novels have been uploaded, and the first 10 copies have been downloaded 15,174 times.

Even if only a fraction of the downloads from this and dozens of other file-sharing websites represent actual lost sales, they still translate into a staggering amount of royalties that have been stolen from authors."

Here's the thing: some people will say that hey, at least readers want my book. I should be glad it showed up on so many sites, right? And if people are reading it, maybe they'll buy the others because they like my work so much. likely do you really think that is? Don't you think that, instead, they'll try to find the others for free as well? I'm not a best-selling author by any stretch of the imagination, but listen folks, every time someone buys my book from a piracy site, that's royalty $$ I'm not getting. I work hard on my books - writing them and marketing them. The few cents I get per sold title doesn't compensate me that time (yet!), but it's still payment for a job I've done.

Please, please don't download books from piracy sites. You are helping those sites rob artists of the rightful royalty money they have earned by doing a job - the same way you earn a paycheck by going to work each day.

And writers, if you're concerned about your own titles, do a search and see what you find. I subscribe to a service called Muso that, for $15.00/month, searches the Internet daily and sends takedown notices to all sites that are posting and offering my books illegally. An individual author can send takedown notices too (this is a legal first step in notifying someone/a site that they have violated copyright law and can be held legally responsible), but it's very time-consuming to find these sites and send the notices, especially if you have more than one title out there. For me, it's well worth the money to have a company do it for me.

OK, that's it for today! Go out into cyberworld smarter and savvier about e-pirates than you were before :)


Mom said...

Immorality in our world is becoming more and more rampant. Unfortunately, most would not consider "cyber piracy" immoral.

Mom said...

PS Ooops.... I guess the term is "e-piracy."