Piracy is the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own. When you sell someone else's property as if you had the legal rights to do so, that's piracy too.
There's a difference between giving away a paperback versus an eBook. When you give away a paperback, you can only give it to one person at a time, and you no longer have it. You can give away an eBook indefinitely and still keep your copy. With each download, the author, publisher, cover artist, and editor each lose a percentage of the value of the book, known as royalties.
Yeah, but it's good advertising, right?
Go into a department store at the mall, take a few things without paying for them, and if you get caught, just tell the store owners it's good advertising. After all, you liked their products better than anyone else's. You took the best. They should be proud they were chosen instead of the store next to them.
They wouldn't have you arrested then, would they? Yeah, right.
Or how about "It's just part of doing business" as a reason to ignore the problem?
Theft might happen and there might be work involved in stopping it, but mall security is still in place. There are locks on the doors. There are cameras watching. Thieves get prosecuted. Authors who think "You can't stop online pirates; shut one down and another pops up" are fooling no one but themselves.
Things have changed.
Because I lead Marketing for Romance Writers, I'm privy to inside information from author-victims. In the beginning, most small presses simply did not see the danger of piracy, or understand how serious the loss of business was not only to their authors but also to them. That's changed. Why?
They did the math of piracy.
Let's say a small press has 50 authors in its stable. For the sake of argument, let's suppose in each quarter, each author has only one eBook pirated, at an average loss of $1.75 per unit. That loss seems like little. However, on the pirate site, suppose 100 units per author are downloaded without payment. Here's the math:
$1.75 (royalty) X 100 (units) X 50 (authors) = $8, 750 (loss of royalties per quarter, or $175 per author, average)
Consider the average royalty is 30-45% (depending on contracts). That means each pirated book represents a 55-70% loss of sales for the publisher. Assuming the eBook sells at the publisher's site for $5, and the author's royalty is 35% there is a loss for the publisher of $3.25 per unit pirated. The math for that is even more alarming.
$3.25 (pub profit) X 100 (units) X 50 (authors) = $16,250 (loss of profit per quarter) When looking at the black and white numbers, it's obvious that unchecked, pirates would soon drive the very authors they claim to enjoy (and their publishers) out of business. No publisher, large or small, can afford to ignore theft.
Our readers can report piracy.
Major kudos to readers who email authors when they see this type of site. Authors also advise one another in several ways. One way is to join a group formed called Authors Against E-Book Theft http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AuthorsAgainstE-BookTheft/
The Copyright Alliance believes that copyright law promotes creativity and job creation and strengthens the U.S. economy. Those who create, render, and publish copyrighted works rely on the copyright law and its enforcement, for their creative and financial success. Without it, these creators would likely cease to exist, or at the very least, cease to produce these important works that are enjoyed by billions of people around the world. You can join the alliance here: http://copyrightalliance.org/ Every person who considers him or herself a creative should join. We need to stick together.
Fighting piracy is not a losing battle.
Authors and readers are not the only ones out there with a strong view against this crime. Everyone who has a stake in royalties is a victim and those who understand the seriousness of this attack on our financial standing are becoming involved. This includes Interpol's Anti-Piracy Division founded September 8, 1977 (as you can see -- this has been around awhile). It includes pirated videos/CDs/DVDs and Blu-Ray. The Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Crimes Division is becoming increasingly active. Find out more here.
Authors who see repeated offenses should contact the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). The site encourages members of the public, industry, trade associations, law enforcement, and government agencies to report violations of intellectual property rights through this website. http://www.iprcenter.gov/referral You do not have to own the copyright of an item to report the theft. If you report the crime, they will investigate it. The form is simple to fill out and is found on the site above.
Good news versus depressing facts: Blasty.
There's a new weapon against pirates, and it's the best I've seen yet. It's called Blasty. Take a look here https://www.blasty.co/invitation/qPFWB2Fh and watch the two-minute video. It explains the simple process. I tried it with one book, and within 10 minutes had already blasted over 30 pirates.
Blasty works like this. You choose your category (authors use books & audiobooks) enter book content information such as title, subtitle, author name, reference URL (legal sale site, such as Amazon or a publisher), and optionally, upload a cover image. Check the box affirming you own the copyright or are an agent of the copyright holder, and click submit.
Blasty goes to work, using the Google search engine to find any sites where your book or books might be hosted.
Whitelist legal sites.
You'll find some right away that are fine to be there, such as a contest where you gave away a copy back when the book first came out. That's no problem. Click "ignore" next to alert, or place the URL in a section for whitelisted -- safe and legal -- sites. You can put your own domain in there and it won't list any of your own pages. Same with your publisher, Amazon, Smashwords, and so on. Once Blasty "learns" what sites are bad, anytime your book pops up, it immediately Blasts them. You don't have to do a thing. You can click a box in a list of pirated sites, select them all, and then click one button to Blast them. You can go to each site if you prefer. An applet installed in your browser lets you report a pirate without doing a single thing except click once.
Blasty is better than a beat cop.
Blasty is in beta right now, so you can only join by invitation. I extended one in the link https://www.blasty.co/invitation/qPFWB2Fh Feel free to share it. Join, give them positive feedback, say what works, point out issues, and give them the kudos they deserve. This site is providing a great service for creatives. Right now, it's free. I hope it stays affordable for all authors. Get in now and get rid of as many pirates as you can. Don't wait.above. Here it is again.
Complacency is the biggest weapon of piracy.
If pirates keep hammering at you until you are too tired to care, they will win. But hey, if you're a mom or grandmom like I am, you know giving in doesn't solve anything. It just makes the behavior worse. Now, you have an ally who can take pirates off the net by making them impossible to find.
Let's kick pirates out and Blast them out of business. They are stealing our work, and profiting from it. It's time to make them stop.
You've worked too hard and too long to let pirates beat you. Stay strong. Go Blast 'em!
Author, Founder of Marketing for Romance Writers