Ways To Know If Your Ebook Has Been Pirated And Proper Ways On How You Can Get Them Off The Internet.
Looking at Piracy – Discovery, Control and Approach.
This article will include:-
- How To Check If Your Ebooks Are Being Pirated?
- How To Stop These Sites From Distributing Your Ebooks?
- Ethical Considerations When Contacting The Website’s Owner.
As much as we despise saying this, let’s face the fact – piracy will never die. The freedom and joy of having something for free has always been the choice for many, till today, and for many years to come. One of the areas in which piracy has a stronghold still is no other than the rapidly rising trend of reading today – eBooks.
Realistically speaking – the more popular your title is, the greater the piracy level will be. However, the more popular your title is, it’s only common that you have a bigger team backing you up, responsible in minimizing piracy of your titles on the net. Our focus in this article is not on the big guns of this industry but rather to Indie authors who are working really hard only to know that their work has been stolen and being illegally distributed.
How To Check If Your Titles Are Being Pirated?
Let’s go hunting…
For the sake of assisting our simulated hunting process, let’s create an imaginary eBook title – “The Unseeing Huntress” by Maria Lewis.
Easy – use the search engines. There are practically dozens of search engines out there, but for optimum results, let’s focus on Google for now. If you intend to expand your hunt, try Yahoo! and Bing. Hunt in groups if possible, get your friends, family members or even your readers / fans to help out. To maximize your results, use the following search terms:-
Open up Google.com and type in “The Unseeing Huntress” (in your case, type in your eBook title). Type in the name without the quotation marks ” “. Browse through the results and check out the sites which are currently listing / mentioning your eBook. Dig deeper for those which show suspicious signs of piracy.
Secondly, open up Google.com and type in “The Unseeing Huntress”. This time around leave the quotation marks and type in your title with them. You’ll get a more specific set of results for this method. Similarly, hunt for suspicious websites.
If you’re still hungry, repeat this process with different combinations of search terms, for example:-
- The Unseeing Huntress by Maria Lewis
- The Unseeing Huntress Maria Lewis
- “The Unseeing Huntress by Maria Lewis”
- “The Unseeing Huntress Maria Lewis”
- Maria Lewis
- “Maria Lewis”
Do take note that very common names like Maria Lewis, John Smith, etc. will produce results of different individuals with the same name.
If you’re selling your books / eBooks at big sites like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc. these sites will usually come up in the beginning of the search results, so feel free to explore beyond the first page of results, maybe up to 10, 20 if possible – the more the better.
How To Stop These Sites From Distributing Your Ebooks?
Stopping the source…
Note: Before proceeding with the suggested actions below, always ensure that you’re targeting a confirmed pirate or an accomplice. Not a random site you chose out of nowhere simply because it displays your ebook cover.
Save the most tedious part of the work last – emailing / contacting the website’s owner. Instead, approach the site which is currently hosting your ebook. Pirated ebooks are most commonly hosted on free file sharing sites, so your hunt is twofold, one with the file hosting site and the other with the original website distributing it. However, as long as the source (the site which is hosting the ebook) is eliminated, the link to it will be no longer be deemed useful. Do remember that in environment such as this, links will sprout and spread the moment it gets posted. Yes, it multiplies at the speed of light.
Most file sharing sites have an option to report for abuse. It’s just a matter of clicking on the “Report Abuse” button or if you want to take a step further, try contacting the site directly.
If you’re determined and have lots of extra time laying around, you may approach the site which is currently distributing / linking to your illegal version of your ebook (not the hosting site) and share a piece of your mind. Our advise – don’t waste your time. They’ll never listen to you and even if they do, it’s just a matter of time for another thousands of similar sites to mushroom over the net.
Another method is to contact the web hosting company which is currently hosting the site which is distributing your ebook. Knowing the fact that there are various web hosting companies with diverse terms and conditions, we’d recommend not wasting your time on this matter as well. In any case that if you still wish to pursue this option, one way of knowing which web hosting is behind the scene, is to do a WHOIS check on the site. Go to https://www.whois.sc, and type in the website URL which you’re investigating. Most of the time you’ll get the hosting details right there. Go right to the site and submit your complaint.
Alternatively you may file for them to be banned from Google and other Search Engines. Simply put, file a notice of infringement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with Google (https://www.google.com/dmca.html). Although not much, as long as you can cut the media which are promoting them, you should be able to at least – get the numbers down a little. DMCA practically works with any parties, so most likely you’ll have to make use of this with the web hosting company as well.
Go for their advertisers. Pirates need to survive as well – as all of the items they’re listing, more often than not, are made free, and need to remain free (or that’d defeat the purpose of pirating in the first place). If they have some kind of banners, textual advertisements on their site, engage these advertisers and convey your messages to them.
Legal action – A long and tedious process, take this as a last resort / course of action.
Do remember that this is a continuous process. You have to do it regularly and consistently if you wish to reduce the rate of piracy.
Ethical Considerations When Contacting The Website’s Owner.
It’s totally understandable if the rage consumes a person when one finds out that his or her eBook is being illegally distributed – yes, in fact it’s totally justified for having such emotions. However, to accuse someone wrongly is a totally different story, hence the need for every author to adhere to some self control / restriction on blasting off their frustrations without proper initial research. Short say, be patient, do not jump to conclusions and strike only when you’re truly ready.
- Before contacting the site’s owner, get your FACTS RIGHT first. If you think SOMEABCSITE.com is hosting “The Unseeing Huntress” (or any title in this case) illegally, pinpoint the location on SOMEABCSITE.com in which it’s currently distributing the eBook. Write down the URL, get a snapshot, etc. Keep a strong black and white evidence of such existence. Ensure that the links listed on that particular page ACTUALLY directs you to an illegal copy of your eBook. Double and triple check this if you must.
- Most of the time, anger blinds you. So stay cool, keep your ego somewhere else and ensure everything ACTUALLY coincides with what you claim. If the “accused” tries to defend himself / herself with concrete evidence which overwrites your claims / states the opposite, cooperate as much as you can. If the site owner requests further clarifications / explanation from your side, by all means REPLY the email. Do not leave it hanging and ignore any followups should you find yourself in an awkward position after realizing that you had someone else wrongly accused. Cooperation will only work if both parties communicate, and subsequently (hopefully) will lead to a fruitful and perhaps peaceful outcome.
- Only deploy your “arsenal of weaponry” in your words (sarcasm, anger, etc.) ONLY IF, you’re 200% sure that the site is illegally linking / hosting your eBook. Otherwise, be polite and be professional should you need further clarifications. As an author and the legal owner of your book / eBook, we believe you have all the rights to get all the explanations you want should there be some obvious suspicious activities going on – but do it properly.
Piracy is a losing battle, but all of us can play a role to reduce it whenever and whichever ways we can. Regardless, the reading world would not be the same if not for all the amazing writers out there transferring and converting their imaginative energies into great unforgettable stories. To the inspiring memoirs which inspire all, and to the books that define us all – Happy writing, and of course, happy reading!