Thursday, February 8, 2018

Publicity or #Piracy by Andrea Downing


I don’t watch much TV but I do like to keep up with the latest films.  When I say latest, I mean, I put them on my Netflix DVD list and a few months later they’re released, and I eventually receive them.  I pop them into my player and what I see first is a stern warning from the FBI:  “The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.” Of course, their very fine seal and badge also accompany the page, which is followed by the statement, “Piracy is not a victimless crime” put there by the National Intellectual Property Center, who have a web page recounting how piracy affects the economy.
Well.
Why isn’t that reproduced on the copyright page of every book? Can they not send out a meme we could all download to use?
Nominated for a RONE Award, I attended the very first InD’Tale conference in Las Vegas, which was my very first conference as well. There, I sat in on a panel by a well-known, NYT best-selling, award-winning author. She let it be known that she earned upwards of 400k a year. I’ll never forget her advice to us—not to worry about piracy, see it as free promotion.
Well.
Whether you’re earning 39 cents through a publisher ebook, or a higher percentage through being self-published, those little pennies can add up.  Maybe it’s not going to make you 400K; in fact, I personally don’t care about the money--it's probably a small amount.  What I care about is that someone else has taken control of my book, is publishing it where they please, or handing it out. Some are free, some are not. Intellectual Property is just that—property, owned by someone. It’s true that most of the piracy sites are not, in any case, giving away books; they’re phishing for credit card details and using our books as the bait. I believe authors rarely get reviews from the readers who help perpetrate these crimes, and they are presumably not readers who might become lifelong fans. The books they receive are often badly formatted through whatever method the pirate has used. Plus, there are now enough free books and discounted books to keep anyone reading for a lifetime without patronizing a piracy site.
Well?
Reader or author, let me know what you think: Publicity or Piracy?

And with a bargain like this, who needs a pirated book?  It's nearly Valentine's Day, and love is in the air with these seven novellas by seven award-winning and best-selling authors. What's more romantic than a sexy cowboy? Treat yourself to a best-selling contemporary western anthology with 53 Reviews and 4.5 Stars, only $0.99. A COWBOY TO KEEP is at https://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-Keep-Contemporary-Western-Collection-ebook/dp/B072869SGV/ . Go catch a cowboy . . .. and keep a cowboy!



28 comments:

Leah St. James said...

The whole idea of pirating books, movies or music really upsets me. I remember when my kids were younger and Napster came out (which allowed people who bought music to "share" widely, for free). I refused to let them use it. They didn't understand. Why would I care if some mega-star's music was being "shared"? To them it was the musician's worth or celebrity that made it okay, that superstars could afford to give away millions of copies of their music. Somehow the music industry didn't agree, filed a lawsuit and the sharing service was shut down. But you're right, Andi, the "pennies" add up, and no one has the right to take someone's property and give it away, or much worse, sell it. Good discussion. Wishing you all much success with the cowboy anthology!

Andrea Downing said...

Leah, I was really surprised at the mega-star author's advice; she wasn't looking at the question of unauthorized use, just at the fact she didn't care about the few cents she might lose. It amazed me, quite honestly, but I was a newbie so what did I know?

Brenda Whiteside said...

Piracy does drive me to rant. It's stealing no matter how you look at it. I don't bother searching out such sites every day and issuing take down notices. I did when I was brand new, but I just don't have the time anymore. If the big guys would pursue some sort of campaign against it, something might happen, but they don't seem too concerned. And you are right, it is not the money. It just isn't right.

Andrea Downing said...

Brenda, I can't help but wonder why we, as authors, don't seem to count--why they have those notices at the start of films yet we have nothing in the front of our books. It would appear because we're too 'small' to bother about--and that certainly isn't right.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Acquiring something without lawfully paying for it is stealing, plain and simple. I suppose it’s a nice spin to consider it publicity. But, pirating is not just limited to on line, ebooks. Think used book stores. The author gets no royalty from the sale of their used book. I remember something about the covers being ripped off trade paperbacks and they were sold with no royalty provided to the author as well. Unfortunately, piracy is not something that’s easily prosecuted. It’s just an unfortunate occurrence that, as Brenda says, just isn’t right.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Good post , Andi. I never really worried about pirating as a real threat until one of the authors at my publisher alerted the group and suggested we sign on to a site that would find your books and then "blast" them off those pirate sites. When I looked I was SHOCKED to find how many copies of my titles were out there. I had PAGES of sites giving away my books! It took me a good long time to go to each one and blast my books. As you say, some of those sites didn't actually have any books, but more sites than not were giving away my stuff. I did find one long five star review which I did copy and paste into my editorial reviews, but I don't see it as publicity at all. I don't think readers who are picking up free books from an obvious pirate are going to run over to Amazon and buy my other titles, nor do I think they're talking it up at their book clubs. There are places you can get free books and feel good about it--they're called libraries. In the age of Amazon it's too hard for an author to make a buck anyway, so stop buying and selling pirated copies! Bottom line is as you said in above comment " I can't help but wonder why we, as authors, don't seem to count."

RE Mullins said...

I've always wondered if author's see any residual from books sold in used bookstores? Does anyone know?

Brenda Whiteside said...

Robin, used bookstores also drive me crazy. No royalties there. With music, if a song is played on the radio of if another singer covers a song that is not his, there are supposedly fees paid to the artist. I don't suppose there is any way to track used books. On the one hand, they do get your name out. BUT do the people who buy used books go put out the money for new books. I have serious doubts there.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Andrea, now that you've brought this up, I'm going to ask my publisher why they don't put that wording in the books. I should think anyone publishing a book could, even self pubbed, if the books are copyrighted. I don't think it will stop piracy but it might slow it a bit.

Rolynn Anderson said...

RWA should be taking this problem on big time, but I'm not holding my breath, because the pirating business is squirrelly and pfishy. Andi's right in that people who steal (or organize ways to sell stolen goods), are not our avid readers/fans. We'll never learn what makes them tick...for sure, we won't get them on our newsletter list. Here's my sarcastic view: I'm not making any money selling my books so they probably aren't either. The turkeys will probably move on to selling something more lucrative like dildos (I guess Amazon sells more of these than anything else!) I don't have the time to fool with these thieves, but I wish someone did!

Andrea Downing said...

Margo, there are booksellers on the streets of NYC--and I'd imagine other cities--that do that ripping off covers business; apparently it then becomes lawful to sell them. But, yes, it's still stealing, no matter what the financial loss

Andrea Downing said...

Patti, I would think most people are too dang lazy to go to a library, order a book they want ('cos, lord knows, there's not a lot of small press stuff there) and wait for it. That's one problem I see. But you're also right about Amazon--as I said, I don't think these readers become life-long fans; they just move on to the next free pirated book.

Andrea Downing said...

RE--I don't know for sure, but I don't think so. Anyone else out there?

Jannine Gallant said...

Who would risk downloading a book by an unknown (or barely known) author from a site that might A) steal your credit card, or B) infect you with a virus? Just because your book is on the site doesn't mean people are reading it. I'm not a fan of book piracy, but I honestly don't think a bunch of people are reading mine without paying. Maybe if you have a name and your pub sells your eBook for over $10 people would take the risk. I don't see my publisher doing much to stop it, so they must not be too concerned. As for used books, I always went to used book stores and never thought anything about it. It's not that much different than a library. One person bought the book and is sharing it. You can "lend" your Kindle books to people, too. On the one hand, I want every single sale I can muster up! On the other, how is selling a used book different than selling the bunk-bed your kid outgrew or buying something in an antique store? The original manufacturer is not getting paid. Recycling goods and sharing books has been going on for years. The hope is that someone who picks up that used book at a yard sale will like it so much they'll buy the next one you write new because they don't want to wait to get it. Then there are warning labels telling you something is a crime. Does that speed limit sign stop you from speeding? Probably not. If someone is going to copy the movie they rented to their own DVD, I doubt the warning label deters them. My two cents. Honestly, I don't think or worry about piracy. I'd rather put that energy into trying to reach people (any people!) who might actually buy my book. Sorry for the novel. Apparently I had quite a few thoughts on the subject!

Andrea Downing said...

Brenda, please let us know what you find out about that. I seem to remember someone somewhere putting a no piracy notice in the front of the book. But I seem to think it's the copyright notice that is supposed to be sufficient--we really, IMHO, need something larger and more prominent. When you watch a film, you can't even fast-forward through the warning.

Andrea Downing said...

Rolynn, you have a very laid-back attitude about this, and I have to say I agree in that I haven't got the time to start chasing these b------ds. And that's another annoyance: there's so little we can do. they may take down one book but another pops up in its place.

Andrea Downing said...

Jannine, thanks for that view. I don't waste my time trying to send out take-down notices, but as I've said, the thought of someone else taking control of my book annoys me. Second hand sales don't bother me either; I've certainly been guilty of buying a cheaper edition i.e. second hand when the new book is too expensive IMO. Your publisher probably feels, as I said above, you take down one book and another just pops up in its place.But I think there are people who just don't realize the site is piracy, don't think about getting a virus or losing their cc--some of these sites look very inviting.

Charlotte O'Shay said...

RWA should be taking this issue on. Power in numbers.

Alison Henderson said...

When ebook piracy first became a known issue several years ago, I got quite alarmed. I've since decided for my own peace of mind to basically ignore it. You could make yourself crazy tracking down sites and sending out take-down notices, and probably to no effect. Internet theft is so wildly rampant, we're far from the only victims. I can only hope the freeloaders who download books from those sites get what they deserve. Karma, baby, Karma.

Alicia Dean said...

Good post. I hate piracy, and I don't look at it as promo, because anyone who is downloading pirated books is not likely to ever buy one. Why would they? Here are my thoughts, in general...

I would love the same warnings and threats as movies get. It's only fair

It probably won't stop people

I don't 'worry' about piracy, even though I hate it

Reason 1 is that there is nothing I can do about it and I don't have time to bother with it

Reason 2 is I don't feel like it is literally taking money away from me, because I don't feel like the person would buy my book if it wasn't available on a pirate site. They're just looking for freebies.

I love used book stores and agree with Jannine about the reason I don't have an issue with them

Great post, it certainly brought out some valid opinions. Great deal on your book, too. Going to buy it now!

Andrea Downing said...

Charlotte, you're right, as was Rolynn regarding RWA. But true to themselves, they are more concerned with traditionally published authors.

Andrea Downing said...

Alison, as I said above, yes, I've stopped chasing them. But it still rankles! But as for the karma, I think the ones who are hurt are the readers, unsuspecting in some cases, who think they're on a legitimate site. After all, there are no signs saying these are piracy sites. The bad guys just move on.

Andrea Downing said...

Alicia, I agree with you right down the line. Or maybe you've agreed with me. I hardly have enough time for promo, never mind chasing pirate sites.

Vonnie Davis said...

I'm late again. A couple years ago THE Nora, with an entourage of authors, went to either the House of Representatives or the Senate and spoke about book piracy. What it was costing authors. In typical male fashion, they nodded their heads, patted her on the head, and sent her on her merry way. Nothing was ever done.

Trying to close down piracy sites is like playing "whack-a-mole." Bash one and two more pop up.

As for the speaker, if she's earning 400,000+ a year, why WOUKD she care if a few were pirated? My heart is still double timing over that. I'm thrilled if I earn more than I get in social security. A pox to all who doubt the power of a good writer.

Betsy Ashton said...

I've seen my books "sold" on unauthorized sites since my first was in print in 2013. (Yeah, I'm a relative newbie.) I reported it to my publisher who blew me off. Small publishers should be more mindful of these things, I thought. So, the next time my Google alert told me a book was available, I went to see. The book was a "pdf," scanned from a print copy, and incomplete. I was less angry about losing the royalties than I was about unsuspecting readers getting a piece of crap. Again, my publisher wasn't concerned, until one of his books was pirated. As they say, the box was open and Pandora was pissed off!!!

Andrea Downing said...

Vonnie, well well well--I had no idea Nora had taken this on! That's an eye-opener. I guess that's it, then, for getting the Feds involved--they're more interested in film than in literature! But don't get a heart attack, please, over that 400K--we're all too fond of you and your books.

Andrea Downing said...

Betsy, I believe TWRP has been fairly helpful about piracy--or at least insomuch as having a sample 'take down' notice and so on. But it is left to us. About the unsuspecting readers getting crap, I'm in an anthology where one review on Amazon gave us one star, complaining that several stories were unfinished etc. As it wasn't marked as an Amazon verified purchase, I'm now wondering if she'd got the book on a piracy site. Obviously, this was a major annoyance--she buys on a piracy site, can't read the complete book, then lowers our star rating by giving it a bad review because of her own stupidity!

Diane Burton said...

Excellent topic. The following goes on the title page of all my ebooks:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your online dealer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

I think I might add something similar to the warning that the movies include. I work hard for my books. If I want to give away copies, that's my choice. I resent when that choice is taken away from me, along with my royalties.