Monday, July 10, 2017

My Books Were Pirated -- How I Handled It

To add to the growing number of crappy things that have happened to me in recent months, I found out that several of my books were pirated and offered for free as a PDF download across multiple web-sites. Naturally, I was stunned, then angry, then depressed. It's been hard enough to write these days, now I had to confront this nightmare of a situation, which I didn't really want to do for a number of reasons:

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 (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 .

(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.)

Anne Gallagher
Shore Road Publishing

Here is a link to the post

They also explain 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.


Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

The 'aw shit' expression came to mind. But I don't talk like that. Ask anyone. (I let my characters do it for me)

Bish Denham said...

Yeegads and little catfishes! Thanks for this information! I'm going to bookmark your post. I've been, for some reason, reluctant to offer my books free (unless as a specific one-time giveaway in a contest where I control giving the winner the book). Now, perhaps I have a reason why.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My publisher deals with all that. The pirates just move their sites around when they're forced to take them down. It's not as if authors making what I am can do anything about it. I don't understand the pirates. They're not stealing for themselves to read, why do they do it? Just to cheat the writer out of dollars? Just to be assholes, I guess.

Anne Gallagher said...

Mac -- My language was a little bit stronger. And I do talk like that.

Bish -- Yeah, it was kind of heartbreaking. But if I can shed the light on free I guess learn from my mistakes.

Susan -- The pirates do just move the stuff from website to website. It's an ongoing crap shoot to find them all. I think they do it mostly to get people to their website so they can get them to click. Assholes.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you. It could be any of us. I'm bookmarking this post while at the same time hoping I never need to refer back to it. Thanks for sharing.

Anne Gallagher said...

Carol -- I hope it doesn't happen to any of my friends.

Ted Cross said...

My books are pirated all over, and I don't bother doing anything about it. I'm such an unknown author that I just view it as a tiny bit of free publicity. Perhaps one person will pick up one of my books and love it enough to start telling people about it. To me anyway, the energy required to keep hunting down these sites isn't worth it. They just keep posting elsewhere. From what I can see, so many of the sites contain malicious software that I doubt many people actually click on the downloads. Just my two cents.

Anne Gallagher said...

Ted -- After I found three sites with the same comments, I figured I would give up. No use fighting a losing battle. I don't have time. Yeah, just for fun I clicked on one of the downloads and pop-ups told me I had to call Microsoft b/c my computer picked up a virus. It would cost me around $200 to get it taken care of. Luckily, I'm not that stupid.