Book piracy! This is a subject that tends to get a very strong reaction from me. I am otherwise usually a calm and forgiving individual. But not when it comes to the theft of our intellectual property. It is a massive problem for authors and publishers, costing them millions of dollars in lost sales each year.
What is Book Piracy:
Book piracy is the illegal reproduction and distribution of copyrighted books. This can be done through photocopying, scanning, or making digital copies of books and distributing them online or offline. It is a form of copyright infringement and is punishable by law in most countries.
Book piracy has been a problem for publishers for many years, but it has become increasingly prevalent in recent years with the rise of digital copying and distribution methods. There are several ways to pirate books, but the most common methods are:
– Photocopying: Making copies of books using a photocopier. This can be done without the permission of the copyright holder and is often used to make illegal copies of textbooks or other educational materials.
– Scanning: Scanning a book and converting it into a digital file that can be distributed electronically. This can be done without the permission of the copyright holder and is often used to make illegal copies of textbooks or other educational materials.
– Digital copying: Making digital copies of books and distributing them electronically (e.g., via email, file sharing websites, or peer-to-peer networks). This can be done without the permission of the copyright holder and is often used to make illegal copies of popular novels or other works of fiction.
The Impact of Book Piracy:
Book piracy is a global problem that affects authors, publishers, and booksellers alike. While it is often thought of as a victimless crime, the reality is that piracy can have a significant impact on the publishing industry.
According to the International Publishers Association (IPA), book piracy results in losses of $3.5 billion each year. This figure includes both physical and digital piracy, with digital accounting for the majority of losses.
Don’t be so fast to buy the argument that real readers don’t access books and articles on pirated sites. They do! In 2019, pirated sites received 300 billion visitors. Also, according to the Intellectual Property Office’s latest study of online copyright infringement, 17% of ebooks read online are pirated. That equals a very meaningful loss of income for writers. To make the point even further, take a look at a quote from a reader which appears in The Guardian:
“I can download 100 000 books and articles in a few hours. I doubt I’ll even get through a fifth of them.”
There is something to be proud of!
Not only does piracy result in financial losses, but it can also lead to lower sales for legitimate businesses. In some cases, pirated copies of books are of poor quality, which can reflect poorly on the author or publisher. Additionally, booksellers may be less likely to stock certain titles if they believe there is a risk of pirate copies being sold.
Piracy also has an impact on authors, who may see their work distributed without their permission or compensation. In some cases, pirates may alter the author’s work, which can damage their reputation. Additionally, authors may miss out on royalties or other forms of payment if their work is pirated.
Lastly, book piracy damages the entire writing community. I have noticed something lately. Many traditional bookstores have gone under. Bankrupt and gone. These were cultural icons in our neighborhoods that simply disappeared. Many choose to blame COVID or Amazon, but the reality is many people have found their reading material elsewhere… for free! Like it or not, this harms the entire writing community.
Personally, I have been writing for quite a while, and 90% of my articles have been stolen and put on other websites. Not just the idea… the whole thing… word for word! Even worse, someone else’s name goes down as the author. How infuriating is that? I am also sorry to break it to you…but odds are your work has been copied as well. Often being available as a free download for readers willing to take advantage of the situation.
Is it just me? Am I wrong to be so outraged by this? In truth, the reaction in our own writing community tends to be lukewarm and forgiving.
I have read several articles on various platforms that state this idea of book piracy is not a big deal. The argument is that true customers and readers will access our stories or books on reputable sites. In other words, they will avoid the shady, pirate websites which are full of stolen material.
It is also argued that books and articles have always been free. “Have you ever heard of the library?” I am asked. Further, friends and families tend to share books and articles with one another. They always have. So why am I making such a big stink about this?
The last bit of “pro-pirate” reasoning which really gets under my skin has to do with equity. A defender of book piracy unabashedly made the claim that this evens the playing field. Now even those who cannot afford it can have access to any written material. Yay pirates! True defenders of equality and free speech. Not!
This is all very bad news for authors. How about we come over and shine your shoes for free as well?
Let’s be serious here. We are writers and authors. It is what we do and a huge part of who we are. For most of us, we have an ongoing love affair with writing. We have an intense passion for the written word. However, as with all artists, we do expect to get paid. Also, to have our work passed off as that of another without consent is downright disgusting and reprehensible. It is also against the law, I may add.
How to Stop Book Piracy:
I believe book piracy is a much bigger problem than people are willing to admit.
Considering this, is there anything that we can do as authors to prevent this ongoing abuse of our work? While nothing is perfect, there are some strategies that can be deployed which may potentially protect your valuable work.
The best way to fight book piracy is through legislation. There are many countries that have laws in place that make book piracy a crime. These laws vary from country to country, but they all have the same goal: to protect the rights of authors and publishers.
There are also international treaties that prohibit book piracy. The most notable of these is the Berne Convention, which was signed by most countries in the world in 1886. The Berne Convention requires signatory countries to grant copyright protection to authors from other signatory countries.
In addition to legislation, there are also technology solutions that can help reduce book piracy. For example, digital rights management (DRM) systems can be used to add security features to digital files, making it more difficult for pirates to copy and distribute them.
The first line of defense against book piracy is education. We need to educate people about the harms of book piracy and why it’s important to support authors and publishers. There are a few ways to do this:
-Talk to people who are buying pirated books and explain why it’s wrong.
-Write articles or blog posts about the harms of book piracy.
-Share information about book piracy on social media.
Over the past few years, book piracy has become a major problem for authors and publishers. There are a number of ways that people can pirate books, but the most common is by using file-sharing websites.
There are a few things that authors and publishers can do to try to stop book piracy. One is to watermark their books. Watermarking is a process where an author’s or publisher’s name is added to each page of a book in a way that makes it difficult to copy.
Another thing that can be done is to use digital rights management (DRM) technology. DRM technology is used to protect digital content from being copied or redistributed without permission. For example, when you buy an eBook from Amazon, it comes with DRM protection that prevents you from copying it or sharing it with others.
Create Google Alerts:
Alerts can be created on Google with a passage from your article or book. This will, in turn, alert you if your written work shows up anywhere on the Internet. If so, a DMCA order can then proceed for takedown. (I have first-hand experience in doing this, and it works).
Hire an Anti-Piracy Firm:
In this case, you would have someone else do the tracking and takedowns for you. There are companies such as MUSO who will find any of your pirated work online and will send takedown legal notices to offenders on your behalf.
Always make the purchasing of your articles or books legitimate and easy for readers. For instance, one way to do that is to make sure your work is offered in a variety of formats. Then there will be no need to seek it out on pirated sites in a format the reader prefers.
The world is now full of apps. It is a good idea to get a plagiarism checker. There are many new sophisticated apps that can locate plagiarized material quite easily. A lot of them are even free! I tend to use Grammarly a lot, but there are others I utilize as well.
Register for Copyright Protection:
Yes, it is true that when you create your own work, it is immediately copyrighted. However, by registering it, you will now have an extra layer of protection. In this case, more is better!
It is a very good idea to make your work available in a variety of countries. Remember, you are trying to make it as easy as possible for readers to find your work. If they cannot find your work in their country, they will be very tempted to obtain pirated versions.
Make life difficult for the pirates. To do this, you need to confuse those looking for pirated copies of your work. By creating and adding META tags to your website or pages, you can do just that. For instance, include the same tags that people would look for to find free, illegal content. Those looking for pirated work will end up straight on your legitimate site.
Lastly, authors and publishers can try to track down pirated copies of their books and have them taken down. This can be difficult, as there are many websites that allow people to share files illegally. However, it is possible to find the original source of a pirated book and have it removed from the internet.
Can we ever completely eliminate book piracy? Alas, I strongly suspect not. Piracy has been around forever! However, our industry should be treated no differently than any other. We are word artists, and our work deserves to be protected and respected with all due diligence. We need to come together as a community to ensure that this happens.
About the Author:
I am an educator and writer. I have spent the last 30 years as an English teacher and School Principal. I also have over 28 years of experience as a blogger, editor, and freelance writer. I offer my services to various publications.
I am extremely passionate about writing, and the same can absolutely be said about reading! There is nothing I like to do more than sit by the fire and read a great book. In fact, I have read so many books in my lifetime that I lost count a long time ago. That brings me to this point. I would like to help readers and authors find one another. In particular, I strive to help Indie Authors reach a larger audience by providing honest and comprehensive reviews of their work. So many great writers and authors are just not having their voices heard. My Grandfather was an amazing writer who wrote 5 amazing books. They were never published as it was such a difficult market to break into. I want to help people like him.
My interests, in a nutshell, are animals, kindness, writing, and reading. I wish to live on a kinder planet in which all are treated with the respect and love they deserve. This includes animals and nature.