1) It was wasted energy.
2) It was wasted time.
3) What was the point of writing and trying to sell books if some little piss ant was just going to steal them?
A few years ago, I found a blog post that gave step-by-step instructions as to what to do if you ever found yourself in this situation. Luckily, I had saved it in my bookmarks bar. I reread it, then searched for more answers. I read about a half-dozen more blog posts just to make sure I knew what I was doing. (Just search "ebook piracy" or "DMCA notices".)
I took nine days to get my act together to deal with it. Last Friday I sent out DMCA notices. (Digital Management Copyright Act). By Saturday night, after another Google search, the pirated books were gone. I kind of didn't think it would be that quick, but I guess when you mess with copyright infringement, pirates are scared they'll get sued for damages (which for some could be in the millions.)
It was a process to be sure because even though these websites are supposed to have a DMCA tab for such things or an email address on their site, most didn't. I had to look them up on WHOIS. And once I did, it was a nightmare to figure out which address to use. It took just about 5 hours from start to finish to send 9 notices.
Here is the letter I sent. (Pretty much word for word from the blog post.)
7 July 2017
To Whom It May Concern:
In accordance with Section 512(c) of the DMCA, I am submitting this takedown notice in writing and with a digital signature at the bottom.
My name is Anne Gallagher. Effective 7 July 2017 it came to my attention that my copyrighted material, specifically The Lady's Masquerade is being offered as a free download on your site ebookfiles.com. (You have to make sure you include their website. Found this out when I received an email from one of the pirates who asked, "Which website?" Needless to say, said pirate obviously has more than one.)
I have a good faith belief that the use of these copyrighted materials on your site is not authorized by the copyright or intellectual property owner, its agent, or the law. Under penalty of perjury, I certify that the information in this notice is true and accurate, and that I am the copyright owner of the copyright(s) involved.
Under this statute, you are required upon receipt of this notice to remove and disable access to the infringing materials specified in this notice.
The title is as follows, with an active link to this item on your website:
Title: The Lady's Masquerade
(You also need to include a link to the book, not just your author page. I used Amazon because they have global reach. Most of the websites had domains in India.)
Thank you for your assistance and for handling this matter promptly. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com .
(You also need to include a written signature. At least that's how I interpreted the instructions. I think it makes the pirates take you seriously.)
Shore Road Publishing
They also explain WHOIS.com much better than I can.
I wrote the main text in Word, then copied and pasted it into the email. I couldn't figure out how to insert the written signature so I wrote one out, scanned it, then uploaded it as a picture to insert in the email. (I know, I'm still so outdated when it comes to computering.)
I found six Regency romances and my latest contemporary romance in the pirates' booty. Unfortunately, every book I found, I had once offered for free at one point in their publishing history. So take that as a lesson to be learned. Free is not what it used to mean. And that's not to say that pirates won't take a bought book and do the same thing, I'm sure it's just easier with free. Most of these websites also maintain they're doing a service to the reading public by offering these books.
However, as the above mentioned blog post says, most of these sites are just scams wanting to steal information or infecting your computer with viruses. And I know one of the pirates had more than one website because I found the same comments on three of them, all claiming "this is one of the best websites around to get free books. Now I can finally read the book I have been wanting without paying for it." It made me sick to my stomach.
How did I find out that my books were being pirated? I Googled "The Lady's Masquerade free download". I then searched each of my other books. I found Women of a Certain Demographic quite by accident. I wanted to see if it was up on itunes so I Googled it and voila, there she was.
So, two lessons today, my bloggy friends--
1) Take the time to search your titles.
2) Think long and hard about offering your books for free.
Tell me -- Has this ever happened to you? What did you do about it? Do you still offer your books for free?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2017
PS. I've also posted on my other blogs this week if you want to take a look. I'm finally rested enough to get back in the game.