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Ebook piracy is a real issue. You’d be amazed at how many websites have pirated or claim to have pirated your book.
There it is…sitting there, being given away for free.
All those sales…lost.
Worse yet, most of these sites have no contact information and probably aren’t even located in your country.
So, how do you protect yourself against these pirates and protect your rights?
In this article, I want to show you the legal, safe, and extra awesome way that anyone can regain their book from these pirates with some cunning tactics that only the most advanced computer nerds know how to employ. Even if you haven't written that non-fiction book or are in the process of laying out your book, this is great to know for the future.
Don’t worry, this will be simple…even for the most tech-challenged readers.
- When to act and when to leave it alone
- The steps to get the pirates to release your book
- How to get Google to slap them around
- And more…
Before You Get Justice…
Ebook piracy is where a website or person has taken a copy of your book and placed it on the internet in order for people to download it for free. However, in most cases, they actually don't have it and are just luring you in.
So, before you go all Klingon and try to serve them a dish best served cold, I’m going to give a recommendation that SHOULD apply to 99% of you: If you find out someone is offering your book for free on their website, you should just leave it alone and move on.
But why? Isn't ebook piracy bad?
1. Most of the time, they don’t actually have your book.
They scraped your title off Amazon – seeing that it was popular or potentially popular – and are only lying by saying the book is available in their archives. This is for one of two reasons. Either:
- They want the searcher to pay their subscription in order to get the “free” books
- They will “send you the book” but it will actually be a virus.
So, in the end, you’re actually safer if you don’t look for these pirates…and if you do, make sure you're armed with my ebook piracy steps below.
2. The amount of work it will take to get your book removed is usually not worth it.
That’s not a knock on you or your book, but the number of sales that you would lose because of that book is probably so negligible that you shouldn’t even waste your time with it. Most people who go looking for free books probably aren’t the type that would actually pay for one. So you really aren’t losing any money.
Also, it's important to note that sometimes ebook piracy can be a good thing. As my good friend Tim Grahl shows, it can actually help you out.
But I get it. It’s just the sheer fact that someone is either lying to people or conning them out of money, and using your book to do it. You’re out for justice!ARRRRR! Finally...a way to deal with ebook piracy #EbooksClick To Tweet
Well if that is the case, then there are two ways to kick some book pirate booty.
- Follow the steps below in order to get them removed or hurt their website, without getting a lawyer involved
- Hire a service that will save you time and headaches by doing all of that for you, so you can write your book
Both of which I discuss below.
Step 1: Contact The Writer/Owner/Editor
Probably the most obvious of steps, yet often overlooked and more effective than you’d think with these cheap book thieves.
Because they are probably not making much money off of your book specifically, so instead of endangering their website/business (for fear that you are savvy with the ways of the Internet force and have read this article), they’ll acquiesce to your request and remove the one single page.
But what if they don’t have a contact page or way for you to contact them?
That’s okay because we’re going to use Whois to find out all we need to know about this website.
To do this, navigate to http://www.whois.com/whois/ and type in the pirate website’s domain name.
Whois is awesome because it not only lists their personal contact information (unless they paid for privacy), but also lists where their website’s domain is registered, who their hosting service is, when they bought the domain, and more.
Basically, it’s useful for figuring out information about any website out there.
And that information is going to be important for these next couple steps. So, keep this information handy as we move forward.
Now, scroll down to where “Registrant Email” is listed.
If it says something like “email@example.com” don’t worry. Just send an email to that address, and it will get redirected to their real email.
Now that you have the owner’s email, craft a well thought out email that details your displeasure in the matter, your request that they remove it, your rights, and the steps below that you WILL take if they don’t comply.
Step 2: Contact the Host/DNS Provider
If you’re at this step, then they either didn’t have contact information readily available, didn’t respond, or they said they were disinclined to acquiesce to your request…
So, let’s take it to the next level. In this step, we will contact the hosting company – the people who house their website on their servers.
What good will that do?
These hosting servers have more to lose than some sneaky ebook piracy. If it is found that they are hosting illegal sites and are not in compliance, they could get shut down and lose their business. Plus, most of them don’t want illegal activity on their servers.
But how do we find out who their hosting service is?
Simple! We go back to Whois Lookup.
Now, to find out who their hosting service is, you want to scroll down in Whois until you see “Name Servers.”
These servers usually look like “ns1.somehostingcompany.com.” In the example above, it is Bluehost.com.
In this case, you’d want to go to “somehostingcompany.com” and look for a “Contact Us” form or an “Abuse” form and file your complaint there.
When you contact them, be sure to use your best legalese and state the following:
- The violations occurred by the website owner
- Specific URL you want to be taken down with a “fix it or else” type statement
- Inform that you tried contacting the owner of the site directly but they were unresponsive
- Your next step will be to file a DMCA (more on this later)
Step 3: Contact the Registrar
Many of the scourge of the Internet actually have their own hosting service (you can basically turn any old computer into a web server), so sometimes trying to contact their “hosting service” will do no good.
But that’s okay. We can kick it up a notch because even if they have their own hosting, they CAN’T have their own Registrar.
For this, we again look at the Whois info and locate their “Registrar Abuse Contact Email” and/or “Registrar Abuse Contact Phone.”
If a phone number is available, it’s best to pick up the phone and contact the Registrar with your complaint. Since its a copyright infringement, you have a decent shot at getting the information removed pronto.
If for some reason, you don’t get through to them on the phone or no phone number is listed, then send an email to the Registrar Abuse Contact Email with the compiled information and close your email with the statement “My next step is to follow through with a DMCA request since you are dealing with stolen content.”
That ought to get ‘em!
Step 4: Enter the DMCA Dragon
If nothing has happened yet, then it is time to roll up your sleeves and slap them around for real. In this case, a dish served cold with a side of DMCA.
A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is supposed to protect the owners of content from copyright infringement on the web. It’s basically a formal action.
So, why not just start with this? Because DMCAs are supposed to be the last resort against ebook piracy. It’s the “I’ve tried everything and they didn’t listen so here comes the boom” move.This is how you can take down the Pirates who steal your #book, Matey! #WritersLifeClick To Tweet
Most of the hosting services and registrars have a specific page for submitting a DMCA. The best way to find this is to do a Google search with the “Name of the Company” + “DMCA”.
Here is an example of Host Gator’s DMCA page.
If the company you're looking for doesn't have a DMCA, then you’ll need to create your own and send it to them or their legal department. You can also access the Copyright.gov website list of companies and hit them there.
When filling out a formal copyright claim, you’ll need to list some of the following:
- Your full name and contact information
- Exactly who you are filing this DMCA against (website owner, host, registrant, etc. – you need to do a separate one for each)
- Take a screenshot of the blatant abuse
- Provide proof that you attempted to contact the violator
- Sign it yourself (electronic signatures are sufficient)
- State that you are complaining in “good faith”
- State that “under penalty of perjury, the information contained in the notification is accurate”
- State that you have the right to submit this DMCA because you are the copyright owner or the owner’s agent.
Here you can find a couple of templates to use:
Also, to help this step move in a better way, be sure to check out my article on Book Copyright pages and what to put in them. Having a strong copyright page will go a long way to helping to bolster your argument. Also, there are extra steps you can take in order to formally copyright your book other than just publishing as well.
Step 5: The Final Takedown with a Google Slap!
Hopefully, by now, you’ve made some progress with all of this. But here’s the thing…even though the website finally complied, their cache might be slow to change. Therefore, to get the Internet and Google to stop showing the page, you need to tell Google to remove the URL.
To do this, just click on Google’s URL request, put in the URL you want Google to stop acknowledging exists on the Internet, and click “request removal.”
Then Google will get to work ASAP so no one in the near future will stumble upon it.
Any SEOers reading this know what the above image references…haha. Panda Update, anyone?
Tools to Do the Work For You
If the above steps seem a little overwhelming for you, don't worry, you're not alone. Thankfully there are a few services that make this possible, though I haven't had the chance to personally test them myself.
If you're looking for a service to help out, I recommend one of these options:
- MUSO – $7/month per book, or $70/month for everything
- Pirat.io – contact for pricing, supposedly has a discount for authors
As I mention above, using a service like these might not be worth the time or expense for 99% of authors, but if you really want the service, the above options should work for you.
But What About Blasty?
You may have heard that there's a program out there that can blast these pirates straight out of the water. And yes, there is one–or should I say was….
It was called Blasty, and it was the forefront of anti ebook piracy. But as of 2019…Blasty is no longer blasting.
The program used to hunt down these ebook pirates and with a single click do all the Google legwork for you. And that alone was worth the cost of the program. However, things went terribly wrong for Blasty. In 2019, the company seemed to implode. First, it removed all signs of support and customer service. And then, reports of fraudulent charges started appearing throughout the Blasty customer base.
ALLi even did some extensive reaching out to the company and eventually downgraded their status from recommended to cautionary. As of now, the Blasty.co website does not exist anymore.
Ebook Piracy–What Now?
Again, I hope you didn’t go through all of that to save a couple of sales. But if you did or needed to, then kudos to you and may the Copyright force be with you. The above steps have only worked 2 out the 3 times I’ve enacted them. The third? Well, not really sure what happened there, but the owners were above average in covering their trail.
So, you no longer need to feel helpless if your book is being stolen or your content is being used without your consent.
You’ve got the steps and the means in order to exact justice. Now, it’s up to you to decide if all of that is worth your time.