#E-Piracy is illegal. And here's why...

Recently, I discovered someone requesting an upload of an eBook copy of my novel BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN on a forum, so that other people can read my book for free. What really upsets me is that my book has only been out for about a month and I've found it uploaded for free on 2 different share file sites.

This, well, sucks. 

And yes, it is partly about the money. Writing books is how I make my living. It is my sole income. I'm a single parent with mouths to feed. The US economy is hurting and there aren't many well-paying full time jobs in my area. Not to mention, I've been out of work for over a year and I haven't even received my first royalty check. So, yeah, every book sold helps my family. Helps me to continue writing more books.

And it makes me sad. Like someone is crushing my dreams in a way. If readers want me to continue working, providing them with stories to enjoy, then please HELP ME do that.

No, I'm not just another author whining about sharing their books. 

Sure, I'm flattered that people want to read my published novels, but by supporting all my hard work (all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into writing my novel) BY purchasing a copy of their own, I can continue to write more books. And get to do what I love for a living. Telling stories. 

And this has happened to me before. The other time, someone was SELLING an actual copy of a novella I wrote on their retail website. Yeah, I was pissed. The book was removed after I contacted the website owner, but I lost all of those sales. I didn't bother with a lawsuit. I should have. I don't like the fact that this is happening to me AGAIN.

My eBook can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble for ONLY $0.99. I think that's pretty cheap.

E-Piracy is especially damaging financially to self-published and indie authors. Although, I realize most authors have had at least one of their copyrighted works pirated without permission. But if we can ban together to stop these websites violating the copyright laws, maybe we help our favorite authors to continue to produce novels that we enjoy and cherish. 

Like I said, I am struggling like many folks in this economy, and I realize some people can't afford the $1.99 to $7.99 to purchase an eBook to read. I get it. I understand. I can't even afford my own reading habit right now. Which sucks. I'll be lucky if I can even come up with the rent this month. But I'm not about to steal books just so I can have some reading material handy.

And I still have out-of-pocket expenses to recover. If I don't sell books, I can't earn this money back. As an indie author, I do not have a big New York publishing house backing me. Nor did I receive an advance for my novel. This means I have to pay for all my own book trailers, banners, website design,  buying and shipping out  ARCs to reviewers, and other miscellaneous marketing tools in the hopes of reaching a wide audience, and, well selling a few books. (Yeah, I know, you must spend money to make money.) Unlike authors represented by big publishers with marketing departments, I'm my own marketing dept. It's a tough job. 

And meany E-pirates aren't making my job any easier. *snivel*

It makes me wonder why these people don't just ask their local libraries to purchase a copy to lend to readers. My librarian is kind enough to orders books for me whenever I've been unable to purchase my own copy. And there are a TON of used books on Amazon that sell for $0.1. Yes, that's right--1 cent! (The difference is that these books have not been illegally scanned, copied, and uploaded to share sites for free. To thousands of people.)

If you have a copy of a book and want to lend it to a friend, that's fine. Because it is one book and hopefully that person will tell others about the book, and buy that author's future publications. 

Lending a book to a friend is not like stealing a bunch of copies of a book from a bookstore and handing them out for free. Which is kinda the same thing that these share sites are doing when they scan and upload books for free. By uploading a book to a share site or torrent, it doesn't compensate authors for the work that they produce.  It is stealing, folks. 

The difference is in making copies. The reader does not own the right to either reproduce or distribute copies of an e-book. With any book, e-book or print, the author initially owns those rights.

Did I mention it’s just plain wrong to steal?

To be fair, I suppose some people may not be aware that by downloading eBooks on share sites or torrents, you are committing e-piracy, and you are engaging in an illegal, unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work.

Or they just don't care. 

And, well, that sucks too. I'm sure there a ton of arguments about why this is okay. And I'm certainly not looking to get into a debate with anyone who thinks that this is acceptable. It isn’t. It’s WRONG. It’s STEALING. Plain and simple. NO EXCUSE. There is no reasonable justification for e-pirates to upload a copyrighted work.*snivel*      

Still not convinced? 

On the copyright page of every novel sold, there is a warning that states:  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning, or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher.

What is e-piracy? 

The FBI refers to e-piracy as this: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted work.* So if you’re not the copyright owner of a product (like a book, song, etc., but this post focuses on books), yet you downloaded that product for free on a torrent or other unauthorized “share” site, you’ve engaged in an illegal, unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work.

Does buying a novel make you the copyrighted owner?  

Nope. Most books are registered with the United States Library of Congress or  have a Creative Commons license, but if you didn’t create the work yourself, then you’re not the copyright owner and you cannot upload or download it. eBooks are an electronic medium, which means that they are  also covered by the electronic media laws and the Millennium Act (if they are DRM-protected).  

*Complete FBI message: “Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.” http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/

Remember e-pirates, karma's a bitch!

In conclusion, I generously offer monthly giveaways and contests here on blog and on other blogs, (what's the point if anyone can download my book for free anyway?) to give people a chance to win a free copy of their very own. I also offer a couple of free novels that I've written to read on Booksie. I'm not naive, I realize there is no way to completely stop this from happening, but it doesn't mean I have to like it or ignore it.

Thanks for letting me rant (whine) about this issue...

Want to learn more about e-piracy and the law? Please visit these links:

Authors against eBook Theft

TDM Copyright Act 1998

Authors have your eBooks digitally tagged and tracked

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  1. Sorry to hear about your book being pirated. What bothers me the most is how there are people on Goodreads who post the links so easily. I've seen reviews with links to websites with not only pirated books, but also pirated e-arcs. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. It's not only disturbing to find websites dedicated to this, but to find links to them on reader communities like Goodreads. I just don't get why people would do this.

  2. On goodreads too? That bothers me too.

    I guess the only thing to do is to report these crimes to the administrators of the goodreads site.

    And send requests to share site owners requesting that they remove the copyrighted works or the link to them from their site.

    The only thing indie authors can do is monitor internet forums, IRC, P2P and torrent sites for pirated content...

  3. I'm really sorry that this has happened to you (and other authors, out there)!! I think many people can't seem to make the connection that illegally downloading an e-book is no different from swiping a paperback from a bookstore. They're both forms of theft!

  4. You know what, Little Gothic Horrors? You said it best. It is theft.

    I don't blame new authors for whining. We're just starting out and this can irrevocably damage an author's career and hurt their income.

    As a self-published or indie author (like me) e-piracy could kill their hopes and dreams...

  5. Now, I'm not sure if I'll offer any eBook formats for my next novel.

    (Yes, I'm aware that a print copy can be scanned and uploaded too--duh!)

    I'm just gonna wait and see...


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