Ebook Piracy – What To Do If Someone Steals Your Book

Ebook-Piracy

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.

Don’t worry, this will be simple…even for the most tech-challenged readers.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • 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…

Before you go all Klingon and serve that dish 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.

Why?

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 saying the book is available in their archives.  This is for one of two reasons.  Either:

  1. They want the searcher to pay their subscription in order to get the “free” books
  2. 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.

2. The amount of work it will take to get your book removed is usually not worth it. That’s not a knock against 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!

Well if that is the case, or your book is outside of reasons #1 and #2 above, then below are the steps you should take in order to get it removed or hurt their website, without getting a lawyer involved.

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.

Why?

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.

NOTE: For this, I’m going to use a pretty cool fiction website made by my good friend, Shaunta Grimes, called What Is A Plot.  How good of a friend?  Well, let’s just say I photo-bombed her Huffington Post picture.  But rest assured, she is not a pirate.

To do this, navigate to http://www.whois.com/whois/ and type in the pirate website’s domain name.

WhoIsLookupWhois 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.

RegistrantEmailIf it says something like “privacy@servername.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 pirate. 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.”

NameServer

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.

ContactUsWhen you contact them, be sure to use your best legalese and state the following:

  1. The violations occurred by the website owner
  2. Specific URL you want to be taken down with a “fix it or else” type statement
  3. Inform that you tried contacting the owner of the site directly but they were unresponsive
  4. 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.”

RegistrantAbuseContactIf 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.  It’s the “I’ve tried everything and they didn’t listen so here comes the boom” move.

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:

  1. Your full name and contact information
  2. Exactly who you are filing this DMCA against (website owner, host, registrant, etc. – you need to do a separate one for each)
  3. Take a screenshot of the blatant abuse
  4. Provide proof that you attempted to contact the violator
  5. Sign it yourself (electronic signatures are sufficient)
  6. State that you are complaining in “good faith”
  7. State that “under penalty of perjury, the information contained in the notification is accurate”
  8. 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:

DMCA Notification Template
DMCA Template from our dear friends at Scribd

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?

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. Personally, I’d rather get back to writing.

Cheers,

Dave-Signature

  • Rocky Kev

    This is a great post Dave. I only knew of two of the options, so thank you for the others!

    To comment on the ‘Before you get justice…’ section:
    I totally agree! Whenever I google a book title, Google offers alternative search options like ‘[book title] free pdf download’ or whatever. And curiosity gets the better of me! Those sites lead to a paywall and viruses. It sucks that these scam sites are capitalizing on a book title. But — I treat it as a win! The more nervous these sites make readers, the more likely they’ll convert to buying the book legitimately.

    Of the 4 books my team launched – not even worried!

  • AUTHOR CORY CYR

    Of course if I had the time to devote to doing all these steps but considering I am pirated 50+ times per day I chose to pay MUSO to do the work. Since I spend my time writing & marketing, all this info is wonderful if you only have 1 or 2 a day. Love the info though.

  • Joe Donnalley

    Interesting post Dave. Tho I don’t agree with doing nothing in such cases. I think it’s important to always enforce your copyrights. It’s easily done and helps establish a history of defending your rights should a serious violation occur.

    • Very true. But just beware of those viruses and lies. It’s a shady world out there.

  • Effrosyni Moschoudi

    I have read a few posts in this important issue. Yours, Dave, is the coolest and most comprehensive. A true gem. Thank you! Personally I only care to react to phising sites that, as you say, are out to give people viruses or steal their email addys and credit card details. These don’t really have our books but being scammers they deserve to be slapped around, as you say. What I do is report them to this Google page simply by saying they are a phising site out to deceive people as they can’t possibly have a legal right to list my book: https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/report_phish/?hl=en Google then takes the page down (after 7-10 days). So it works like a charm.
    Effrosyni

    • Oh…that’s a good point and I’ll make sure to edit and update the above with that. Thanks Effrosyni!

      • Effrosyni Moschoudi

        My pleasure, my friend. Always!

  • Have you tried the ‘Blasty’ app? They list all of the sites your book appears on and if you want to ‘blast’ the listing, they issue the DMCA notice for you and get the listing removed. It takes a week or so for the listing to be removed. I’ve had nearly 400 removed over the past 9 months. But it is like a game of whack a mole, when you bash one, another pops up. It is a useful app though, and allows me to keep an eye on when a new release is being pirated – and in turn try and find out where the ARC copy came from!

    • Hmm…haven’t heard of that one. I’ll check it out and update the article above is it rocks! Thanks for the recommendation Isobel!

    • Thank you Isobel, signed up, let’s see what happens.

  • Trish LeSage

    Does anyone have a link to the Blasty app? Thanks!

  • Hi Dave,

    LOVE this advice. Because I have 126 eBooks out there – 124 on Amazon – and yep, it takes not a rocket scientist to figure some folks nabbed a few of my eBooks somehow. Audio books too. I follow tip 1: reach out to them. Some was offering an audio book via YouTube, with a video and short link. I calmly approached them. Emailed the website which seemed shady as hell. 1 day later someone emailed me back. Apologized. Pulled the audio book and video.

    In many cases they will admit their hand was in the cookie jar and will simply pull it. But if they do not, it is tough to do but from personal experience I just release on it. I see it as flattering in a way. More than that, as our presence REALLY expands it becomes impossible to keep this piracy stuff 100% under control.

    Super tips Dave! Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan

    • Hey Ryan. Cool – I’m a big fan of your work. Glad you got that settled. Also, if you’re really getting nabbed, might want to check out the blasty.co app – seems to make the google slap process much easier if you’re getting hit often.

  • ha ha ha panda what a nice gif add, nice

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