A Victimless Crime, Right?

So, I Googled myself – who hasn’t? – thinking I’d see if anybody had read any of my books and maybe written a nice review (or not) and was surprised to see how many file-sharing sites appeared to be offering downloads of my books. I understand why people do it – I mean, why pay when you can get it for free, right? And, after all, it’s a victimless crime. No one gets hurt. You’re not actually taking something from someone. No one loses out. It’s not like you’re walking out of a shop without paying for that item tucked under your arm. And, y’know, it’s great that people are just reading my books, because that’s all any author wants, isn’t it? We just want people to read our books.

Well, actually . . . yes, I do want people to read my books, but writing is not my hobby. I enjoy writing, but I don’t write ‘for fun’. It is my job. It is how I make my living, and I am not rich – not by any stretch of the imagination. And knowing that people out there might be downloading my books for nothing makes me feel . . . blyeuch. Every time someone downloads one of my books for free, it isn’t some faceless grey corporation that loses out, it’s ME who loses out. And my family, of course.

All of my books are available as ebooks on Amazon, and they re all less than £5.00. That’s not so much is it?


6 thoughts on “A Victimless Crime, Right?

  1. It IS illegal, and VERY difficult to control, but publishers can do something to block it, even if it’s only site by site. Give your publisher a link to every site you find, Dan. I have a wax doll with the name of a particular book-pirate in India. who’s scattered free copies of my last novel around the net like confetti at a wedding. I’ve done the needle stuff – one in the heart, one in the head – without much effect. I’m thinking of sticking him in the microwave and watching him melt. Yes, praful**, I’m talking about you.

    • Hi Charles, I’ve already spoken to my publisher about it and passed them a lengthy list of file-sharing sites. It’s infuriating that people think everything should be free these days. People who would recoil at the thought of shop-lifting don’t think twice about downloading films, music and books they haven’t paid for – and it’s really no different. It’s hard enough trying to make a living, without bearing the insult of people stealing your handwork.

  2. You have my full sympathies! You may or may not know but a large part of my role is overseeing our anti-piracy policies, and there is definitely much that your publisher can do for you. Looks like you’ve already sent them the links, but you should also request that they put your titles onto a “active scan” list. Most publishers have contracts with third parties who scan the most egregious pirate platforms and issue takedown notices on behalf of their clients. Examples of such businesses working for publishers include Attributor and MarkMonitor. Even the Publishers Association has its own http://www.copyrightinfringementportal.com which its members can use to issue takedown requests as well as set up active searches. Such searches are normally reserved for the front list or biggest authors names, but if you nag and harangue them enough, it would be a relatively minor thing for them to add your titles to such a programme.

    Filesharing is impossible to eradicate for many reasons, but the ‘law’ makes it more challenging for rightsholders to fight pirates. And anyway, which law are we talking about? After all, who do you go after when the website owner (pirate) is based in, say, Sweden, the servers in the Middle East, and the business is registered in yet another country, and the domain registered in Indonesia? Not to mention that even if a pirate site is successfully brought down, it can be immediately mirrored across several continents by ‘volunteers’ whose philosophy believe that all content should be free. ‘International law’, including things like the Berne convention, is not recognised by every country, and even if a country is a WIPO singatory to those laws, it may not put any resource to policing or implementing them. Authors and publishers have an impossible task.

    Give me a call if you want to talk this through some more. I might also be able to dig up a name or two for you to approach at Hachette.

    • Thanks Mark. My publisher did say that they already have people looking at the sites and I noticed that a few of them have been taken down. It’s strange, though, that people should have a ‘philosophy’ that all content should be free. After all, it follows that if it’s all free, musicians, filmmakers, writers, game designers etc will earn nothing from their creative endeavours, meaning they won’t be able to create anymore. Everything for free = nothing for free.

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