I had a great tale to share with you about character development. However, an ever growing threat to authors plagues us. There seems to be a growing number of people around the world who believe everything on the internet should be free. Never mind that you spent long hours and tears writing your book so you could make a little money. Never mind that you purchased the copyright as an authentication of your ownership. Never mind that stealing is against the law. There are pirates out there just waiting to feed the sharks. Remember this caution: The Pirate are as dangerous as the sharks.
The pirates are out there, lurking somewhere in cyberspace. Under the cloak of anonymity, they are just waiting to grab your book and give it away for free. Not only are they stealing from you, they are stealing from your publishing company, editor, and anyone else who was to receive legal compensation for your work. As word gets out and multiple authors begin sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") letters , the pirates begin planning to abandon ship. When the letters first start trickling in, they generally take the publication off the website, upon receiving the letter. However, when the letters become a tidal wave and spill out of their inboxes, most know that if we’re catching on, so is law enforcement. At this point, many will take the site down, only to build a completely new one at a different IP address. A few of them are brazenly bold and have moved to countries without stringent copyright laws or extradition treaties.
So what is an author to do? Bing your name at least once a week. Read through looking for any web listing that comes up on the search of your name and look for the words: free, complimentary, unrestricted, and any other key word that jumps out at you. Once you find a pirate site, send them a DMCA letter. Be sure you specify the timeframe you are giving them to take it down. Make the maximum one week. If you are published through a publishing company, find out what their policy/procedure is for copyright theft. Some publishers prefer to do this for their authors, so they can make sure other publication from their lists are not on the site. Many will track all their listings on the site to make sure they are taken down. While you are awaiting a response, spread the word! Notify your publisher, fellow authors, editors, anyone else you think should know. Use social media. Alert fellow authors on Twitter, Facebook, GPlus, Check on the site to make sure it is taken down.
If the publication is not taken down within the specified timeframe, it is wide to report the theft to the FBI’s IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) at www.ic3.gov/complaint. If you are outside of the USA, check with your country’s investigative division to find out who the appropriate bureau is. With the massive volume of complaints they investigate, they may not get around to the site you report until they get a landslide of letters about the same one. So do not skip sending that letter. A sample letter will follow this post.
Hopefully, we can pitch in and alert each other any time we find one of these sites and prevent the loss of income as soon as possible.
Until next time, happy writing!
Sample: DMCA Letter
Re: Copyright Claim
To the ISP Hosting Company/company name:
I am the copyright owner of the eBooks being infringed at:
(place site name/URL here)
This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its Web address, from posting the infringing material to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to "expeditiously remove or disable access to" the infringing material upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.
I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or the law. The information provided herein is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder.
Please send me a prompt response at the address noted below, indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.
(Name of Author)