Updated: Mar 3
So I decide to Google my name just to see what pops up. Of course, my website www.kfjohnsonbooks.com, various sites featuring my interviews, book trailers and sites authorized to sell Behind Closed Doors and Liar’s Ball popped up. But something unexpected showed up too. A torrent website offering FREE downloads of BOTH of my books! What the HEEZY?! I didn’t authorize that! That’s illegal!
I was surprised, confused and livid to say the least!
I know you’re asking, “Well don’t you have the copyrights to your books?” Yes it is! I’m a self published author, but I own the copyrights to BOTH of my books and legally, I can sue and pursue anyone who has distributed or sold my work without my consent.
According to ipwatchdog.com, If you are the owner of a copyright you can provide notice to the webhosting company that houses the infringing material, and they will almost always take action. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides protection from copyright infringement lawsuits for service providers. This protection manifests itself in immunity from being sued for infringement, but they must take reasonable and swift action to remedy an infringement once they are notified. Since they do not want to lose their immunity from copyright infringement, if you notify them of an ongoing infringement they will almost always order the website owner to take down the infringing material, or they will.
A DMCA takedown notice must meet the following criteria;
It must be in writing. It must be signed(electronic signature is fine) It must specify the content that you believe to be infringing upon your intellectual property rights. It must include accurate contact information. You must state that your complaint is being made in “good faith” You must also state, that “under penalty of perjury, that the information contained in the notification is accurate” Finally, you must state that you have legal right to take such, and further, action as the copyright owner or agent of the same.
If this is the route you choose to go, here is a sample letter ipwatchdog.com provided that you can use for reference DMCA Sample Letter
Problem solved right? NOT NECESSARILY!
While many websites will remove the content after receiving such a letter, there are no guarantees that they will and pirate websites spring up like weeds on a plantation enough to keep some copywriters busy. If you’re not a big wig publishing house or if you don’t have attorney’s at your disposal, you may find the task of getting your material removed easier said than done.
This pains me to say but…maybe the infringement is benefiting you and your product sales rather than hurting.
Some authors have reported that the infringements have boosted their notability and gained them new followers and readership. How? Because if the content included in your book references your websites, social network handles, other books, contact information, etc., whomever received your pirated work, may patronize your legitimate works as well. At minimum, it may garner you additional content reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or on other sites that promote your works.
I know, this is a hard pill to swallow and a bit of a sacrifice for those of us who have spent sleepless nights writing, researching, honing and promoting our creative works. However; there is something to be said about your content being good enough, or popular enough in some cases for someone(s) to want to pirate it. Rarely do people bother to steal and/or promote garbage or unworthy books right? Perhaps their infringement is a testimony to how good your content is?
At any rate, if your book is being sold or freely downloaded on an unauthorized website, there are actions that you can take to protect your brand if you choose to. Unfortunately, whichever action you take, it will not be easy, quick or have a guaranteed outcome in many cases.
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