Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Parlay with Pirates

I hit a milestone in my writing career yesterday.

All three of my Ondine novels were on a torrent site. Or a pirate site. Or a 'pay us a monthly fee and we'll let you download whatever you like but we don't give the content creators any of that money and by the way you can't sue us because we don't actually host anything' sites.

Yeah, them.

I was furious and also ... kind of excited. I'd seen all my author friends deal with this over the years and felt a little left out that my books weren't good enough to get pirated.

But it finally happened, and I wasn't going to let someone else make money of my hard work.
And before you ask; NO, I do not download Game of Thrones illegally. I am reading the books, but in previous seasons I've watched it via purchasing the downloads on appletv. Which left me behind everyone else and couldn't go on social media for fear of spoilers.

Anyway, here's what you as an author can do.

This is how the google alert shows up in my email
 Step 1: The most important step. Finding out if your book is on a free site.

Set up a google alert. You will be able to do this at

This way, if your book ends up available as a download, you'll get an email notifying you.

Also, try a general search of *My Book Title* and *download* or *free* or *torrent* etc. You might be surprised and appalled at what you find.

If you find your book on a site, step away from the keyboard, scream silently to yourself and make a cuppa or have some chocolate or go for a walk. You need to be calm and practical to deal with this.

It looked so inviting and free . . .

Step 2: Another very important step. Contacting the website/host/pirates.

As much as it might burn your retinas, do your best to find a contact link so you can contact the people who will be the ones removing the links. Believe it or not, some, like Download-genius, have a DMCA link and state that they take copyright seriously!

It doesn't matter what the site itself says about DMCA and copyright and take down notices. They could create an enormous list of legal-sounding hoops you have to jump through, but it's meaningless. They're just trying it on.

Step 3: A hugely important step. Write your DMCA Take Down notice.

Up until yesterday, I didn't even know what DMCA stood for, or How to write a Take Down Notice. (DMCA is Digital Millennium Copyright Act)  So I typed "DMCA takedown notice template" into a search engine and came up with plenty of formula emails that I could use. This one from EPIC is very user friendly and has all the legal requirements you need to use in your contact with the pirates.

Step 4: Send your DMCA Take Down notice and .... wait.

It could be very quick (in my case, it was about an hour! RESULT!) but they could just as likely ignore you.
That's OK, just send them another one in a few days. Also, let your writer friends know of the site, and get them to check if their hard work is being abused on the site. You'd be surprised what a torrent of DMCA take downs can achieve.

Good luck and keep writing.

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