Piracy

Piracy may not seem like a subject that has much to do with book promotion, but you might be surprised.

Piracy

Usually, when people think of digital piracy, they think of illegal movie or music downloads. But it applies to photos as well and can be just as problematic for you if you are caught doing it.

I didn’t realize how rampant piracy was in the author community until last year when I decided to join some Facebook groups designated for authors to promote their books.

There are hundreds of these groups on Facebook, and some of them even have huge followings with tens of thousands of members. Sounds like a great way to promote your book, right? Well, it can be. Some authors say that using these types of groups can more than double their download rates.

But something else I noticed about these groups, was the increasing number of authors illegally using images they didn’t own.

It may sound harmless to some people, but if you get caught, it could cost the author $150,000 per offense.

That means if you do it just seven times, which is once a day, every day for a week, you’ve risked a possible default judgment against you for over a million dollars. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an extra million bucks lying around to pay out to the owner of the photos I was illegally using to promote my book.

And that’s just the default judgment, the company that owns the rights to that image you used, could very well go in and ask the judge for additional damages.

I decided to do a little research into the subject matter and contacted several of the authors that were doing this. Every single one of the authors I spoke with claimed to honestly have no idea what they were doing was illegal, nor did they realize that the copyright law protected the owners of the photographs with such a large default judgment, per offense.

Unfortunately for them, ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse for breaking it. And a new software is being developed every single day, that can go out on the internet to search for certain photos and when they find them illegally being used, they will go after you for a very simple reason. It’s easy for them to do and they are guaranteed a win; because you have no defense. You can’t say you didn’t know because not knowing isn’t a valid defense.

There are many companies dedicated to doing nothing but going after people who do this very thing and they are making an insane amount of money in what is known as ‘copyright settlements’.

I happen to know a guy who makes an incredible living doing nothing but going after people who are illegally using photos and video clips on social media sites, that they don’t own the rights to.

They will file against hundreds or even thousands of people all at once and then settle with those people for a smaller amount. In some cases, the companies will agree to settle the case with you for a few thousand or work out a payment plan with you where you agree to pay them $1,000 a month, every month over the next year.

Do you really have an extra $1,000 a month lying around to pay out every month for the next year or two? Even if you talked them into a smaller settlement, that’s still money you have to spend.

And just think, you could have avoided all of this if you would have just used an image you legally licensed in the first place to promote your book.

Think you can’t afford to license images? Then how are you going to be able to afford the money it’s going to cost you if you get caught stealing them? Think twice before throwing up an image of your favorite celebrity to promote your book.

Here are some sites where you can legally license images.

Today we are going to talk about theft and how to protect your work from being stolen.

It is virtually impossible to protect a popular book from being stolen and given out for free on the internet. But you have to try and chances are, you aren’t quite as popular as Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling or Stephen King so it will be much easier to protect your work.

Let’s start with the simple way to start the process. Go to Google.com/alerts and enter your name where it says “Create an alert about …” but when you do make sure and enter your name in quotes like this … “Tracy Tegan”.

You want your alert to be an exact name match or you might get a lot of false alerts that will just be annoying.

Now you have told Google to alert you every time it comes across a new entry for your name and this includes when it finds websites offering your book illegally as a download.

Next, go to YouTube.com and search for your name or the names of your books. You might be surprised what you find there.  I found some jerk had taken all of the Thoughtless series by S.C. Stephens and illegally put them up on YouTube. They’ve been up for over 2 months and in that time thousands of people have listened to her audiobooks for free. She lost so many sales as a result. I mean why buy the book at Audible when you can just listen to it for free at YouTube, right?

thoughtless-stolen

So if you find yourself in this situation go to YouTube and report every video that is illegally streaming your books.  You can only report your own stolen books. So while it’s horrible that we found someone else stealing books belonging to an author we all know and love, but we can’t do anything about it other than warn her.

thoughtless-stolen-2

Once you click the REPORT button on YouTube, simply follow the stated instructions on the screen.

Now protecting your work on  YouTube is really the easy part. When you find your book on other websites it gets a little more complicated. When you find these you have to contact the site’s owner, and web hosting company and issue a DMCA takedown notice.

A DMCA takedown notice is a notification to a company, usually a web host or a search engine, that they are either hosting or linking to copyright-infringing material. It provides them notice to remove the copyrighted works.

If you want to find your book already being downloaded illegally search for something like “download YOURBOOK NAME” and then look for obvious offenders. Then you can send them your DMCA Take Down Notice. Here is a sample for you to use.

SAMPLE DMCA TAKE DOWN NOTICE

My name is INSERT YOUR NAME and I am the AUTHOR of INSERT BOOK NAME HERE. A website that your company hosts (according to WHOIS information) is infringing on at least one copyright owned by my company.

This was copied onto your servers without permission. The original BOOK, to which we own the exclusive copyrights, can be found at:
PROVIDE WEBSITE URL ie: http://amzn.to/1Sx1xL9

The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:
PUT THE URL OF THE WEBSITE WHO STOLE YOUR BOOOK HERE

This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.

Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement action, you will need to investigate and ultimately remove or otherwise disable the infringing material from your servers with all due speed should the direct infringer, your client, not comply immediately.

I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights my company owns are being infringed. Under penalty of perjury, I certify that the information contained in the notification is both true and accurate, and I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.

Should you wish to discuss this with me please contact me directly.

Thank you.

YOUR NAME
Address
City, State Zip
Phone
E-mail

Now email this copy to the web hosting company. How can you find that out? Let’s take a look … it’s not always easy. If it’s from Blogger.com or Blogspot.com, then go here and simply follow the instructions.

http://rapidgator.net is a site that illegally hosts books. So what I do first is a WHOIS search. This will hopefully tell me who owns that domain name.

The first thing I noticed is that the site uses Domain Name Privacy protection, so I am unable to contact them directly.

Registrant Email: 54374c49q7mfir3i@5225b4d0pi3627q9.whoisprivacycorp.com

I will, however, attempt to send my DMCA notice to that address, but it’s not always successful.

Next, I look down at their name servers. This site has their own name servers. This is not uncommon when trying to mask your real identity or if they are a big company. Usually however with pirates, it’s to try and hide their real identity or who they really host with to try and avoid getting out of trouble.

Name Server: ns1.rapidgator.net Name Server: ns2.rapidgator.net Name Server: ns3.rapidgator.net Name Server: ns4.rapidgator.net Name Server: ns5.rapidgator.net

So what do I do now? I go to a site called http://www.whoishostingthis.com and I search rapidgator.net. This tells me that their hosting company is Netvillage. So if they don’t respond to my DMCA request I will go directly to their web host.

So next I go to the website rapidgator.net. This actually should have been my first step. I found a REPORT abuse link on their website, so I would fill out their form.

However, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes you have to find out who their hosting company is as a site like whoishostingthis.com and send your letters there.

I keep doing this for every single website I find illegally offering my book on their website. And every time Google sends me an alert letting me know of a new one, which honestly isn’t that often anymore, I repeat this process. I only takes a few minutes but it’s worth it.

Before I started doing this I found that over 20,000 people had illegally downloaded my first book Absolutely Unforgivable.

That’s 20,000 sales I’ll never get paid on and that’s not okay!

Stealing from someone is never okay and hopefully, now you understand how you can stop people from doing it from you.

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