Monday, 28 July 2014

Why I'm not concerned about my ebooks getting pirated

A few days ago a fellow indie publisherwas fuming on Facebook that a Russian ebook pirate site that had put up all her books without her permission. I checked it and found all of my books up there too, both my indie published fiction and the electronic editions of my military history books written for Osprey Publishing.

This isn't the first time. Radio Hope is on at least two other pirate sites, and Osprey titles get pirated all the time. I used to get mad, but I don't anymore. First off, there's no way to stop it. DRM is easily removed and only acts as an inconvenience for honest readers. I don't bother putting DRM on my books. I'm not going to waste my time chasing down pirate sites and threatening them with legal action either. Yeah, like I'm going to win a lawsuit against some dodgy company in Russia!

Some writers, such as Neil Gaiman, have made the point that piracy is actually a form of free advertising. I'm not sure I'm convinced, but really, if someone goes to a pirate site for his reading material, he's probably not going to cough up money for my books anyway, so in effect I haven't lost a customer. So I'm left in the situation of shrugging my shoulders and not worrying about it. I have more important things to do with my time. Writing, for example.

A lot of indie writers don't share my view. My Facebook friend was irate, as were many of the people on her feed. Several said they contacted the site and were either ignored or (gasp!) were treated rudely. Hello, these people just stole your intellectual property, did you think they'd be apologetic? Now several of them are talking about how to take down the site.

I can't be bothered. There will always be pirates, and it isn't clear how much or even if they reduce sales. I'm going to focus on the one thing about my career I can control--the quantity and quality of my writing.

What do you think about piracy? Drop me a line in the comments section!

Image of the flag of pirate Chrisopher Moody courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good point. If someone is shopping at an illegal site, they probably don't want to buy your book through a legitimate site anyway.

D.G. Hudson said...

It's a losing battle. I saw one of my photographs used on a Romanian site for travel, without my permission. The Iconic Paris photo was used to highlight their own post about a conference that took place in Paris. No credit given. I didn't have photos all watermarked but that can be cropped out.

I shrugged too.

Sioux said...

Look at it this way (and it's easy for me to say, because no one is pirating my stuff 'cause I got no stuff): pirates are after valuables. Good things. Goods that lots of people want. Pirates--the ones that sail the oceans--don't want to take over ships full of garbage.

So, if your books or your photographs are being pirated, at least that means that people value them enough to want to steal them.

(Sometimes you have to look at the positive aspects, if there's nothing you can do about the negative ones...)

Donna Volkenannt said...

Great post, Sean.

I'm with you and Sioux on this one.

Your intellectual property is valuable; that's why it's getting pirated. Those nasty pirates!

Although I haven't published any e-books, I've found some of my book reviews, interviews from my blog posts and other works published on other sites without my permission.

Right now I'm struggling with a different problem. Someone I don't know has been posting selfie photos on my Facebook timeline.

It's annoying and frustrating.

Pirates steal in another way--by stealing time worrying about what they've done when I should be spending time writing.

Sean McLachlan said...

D.G.: It was even worse when I was working for Gadling, which was such a high profile site. Our stuff got stolen all the time. AOL Media, our parent company, went after one site that was getting at least a third of its content straight from us, changing the bylines. The other stuff was probably stolen too.

Sioux: Nice positive spin!

Donna: That weird about FB. I've been getting random posts on my feed too. They're friends of friends, but not people I know and my settings should screen them out. Facebook is so random that way. I'd ditch it but it's the best way to stay in touch with so many of my firends scattered around the globe.

Jack Badelaire said...

Trying to take down a pirated content site in Russia? That's a really good way to set yourself up to be the targeted attack of some Russian hackers and/or identity thieves.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.