PDA

View Full Version : Ebooks, ARCs, Reviewers, and Piracy



thethinker42
11-29-2009, 06:17 PM
So here's the scenario: A book is about to be released (in this case, Ebook and paperback). A week before the release date, said Ebook is already available for download on a bootleg site. The file is, surprise surprise, the advance review copy.

Yes, I'm talking about my own book. I'll spare you my profanity-laced vent session about it. I have been in communication with my publisher, and they are doing everything they can to try to track down which reviewer leaked it. We've been contacting all the file hosting sites to have them take it down, but each time we do, the user puts it up elsewhere. It's been downloaded at least 170 times off of one site alone. Needless to say, I'm less than @#$ing thrilled.

So...to discuss...

Is this an isolated thing? A trend that's been going for a while? It was the first I'd heard of it, so I'm genuinely clueless.

What can publishers do to safeguard against this and/or identify who leaked a specific book? (i.e., inserting minor errors in each file so the bootlegged file can be traced back to a specific person)

Thoughts in general?

Puma
11-29-2009, 06:28 PM
I don't know who printed your review copies, but Lulu.com appears to make a practice of making review copies available for download/sale. Do a Google search on your title and see if your review printer comes up in the search. I was horrified when that happened to me. And they (Lulu) don't seem to care about it. Puma

thethinker42
11-29-2009, 06:29 PM
Oh LOVELY. I'll check into it.

This is just the electronic version, which I wouldn't have known about had a reader not e-mailed me to let me know. BLARG.

ishtar'sgate
11-29-2009, 07:30 PM
Oh great, just great. My publisher has been working with a lawyer all year putting together a contract to make my book available as an ebook. It's looking like a dangerous way to go.

Gary Clarke
11-29-2009, 07:45 PM
Good lord, that's very frightening. I'm appalled for you, Lori!

thothguard51
11-29-2009, 07:49 PM
This has been one of my worries since I first heard about and started exploring the E-publishing route. From what I have read, the technology is out there to prevent illegal downloads, but the publishers do not want to use it, or the printer, because it will limit the products availability to users.

Until the e-publishers come up with a universal format that prevents downloads by secondary parties, this is going to continue.

Personally, I would love to see a web embedded trademark emblem within the work that changes to red or something if the download has been done illegally because the user did not have a code when they downloaded. But again, that may be too complicated and inconvient for mass distribution...

ChaosTitan
11-29-2009, 07:50 PM
I've seen print ARC's put up for sale on eBay. I know multi-published authors who have said their work goes up on torrent sites on the day it's for sale in stores. People will find a way to make your work available. Digital files just make it simpler than the days when individual pages had to be typed/scanned into the computer.

My book's popped up on torrent sites a few times. While I'd like to beat them all senseless with a baseball bat, my perspective is those idiot people probably wouldn't have paid for a copy in the first place.

Irysangel
11-29-2009, 08:24 PM
Unfortunately, it's very common amongst romance and ebooks especially. I think Shiloh Walker has several articles on her website in regards to piracy and e-piracy? And I know it's been discussed on Dear Author several times.

Some people spend all day searching for torrent sites and issuing take-down notices. It's just...one of those things. I did have a reader email me that she bought my book at Goodwill for a quarter, and then realized it said ARC on the front. I find it ironic, because I didn't even get ARCs myself! If only I'd gone to Goodwill! :)

Mr Flibble
11-29-2009, 08:30 PM
Some people spend all day searching for torrent sites and issuing take-down notices.

Google alerts is your friend

Set up to search for 'Title, torrent' and 'title, download' etc.

Luckily I've managed to find some that way early enough that no one downloaded before I sent the thingy ( that I could see...)

ChaosTitan
11-29-2009, 08:42 PM
I did have a reader email me that she bought my book at Goodwill for a quarter, and then realized it said ARC on the front. I find it ironic, because I didn't even get ARCs myself! If only I'd gone to Goodwill! :)

I've seen ARC's in thrift stores (although usually way past the release date), with their pretty little "Not for Resale" sticker on the front. I suppose if it's donated, it wasn't technically resold by the reviewer. ;)

wannawrite
11-29-2009, 08:48 PM
OMG...I feel for you, girl. This just sucks. My release if May 17th, and I've worried about the exact same thing. Best of luck and keep us posted, huh?

escritora
11-29-2009, 09:16 PM
Lori, that is terrible. I gave a columnist, who wrote books in my genre in the 1980s, an ARC. She published a book with the same exact theme the following year. After what? Almost a twenty year absence in authorship. I realize ideas aren't copyrightable, but the event was disconcerting.

Cyia
11-29-2009, 09:19 PM
There should be a sticky here with a list of all the sites where authors have found their books for free download.

Maryn
11-29-2009, 09:25 PM
There should be a sticky here with a list of all the sites where authors have found their books for free download.Absolutely agree. This could speed up the process of identifying evildoers.

Maryn, who thinks it was easier when they all wore black hats

Medievalist
11-29-2009, 10:55 PM
The people who pirate your book are not people who would buy it. Less than 1% of them would actually buy it, ever, at any price.

It is something to take action on.

I've found it most effective to write a polite letter as the author explaining that the book isn't the final version, that they've released a known flawed version because it's an ARC/Review copy

And that you live off the royalties and need every dime.

Also, way back in the dark ages of E-books, we put in a notice indicating that the e-book, if it was online anywhere than [insert proper download for pay site], was pirated, with an address for an e-book amnesty.

san_remo_ave
11-29-2009, 11:37 PM
That really sucks, Lori.

Book piracy isn't anything new and isn't limited to just ebooks (look for JK Rowling downloads as an example, because NONE of the HPotter books are avail as ebooks). Some of these sites know precisely what's going on with copyrighted works (Pirate Bay torrent, for example) and they don't care and won't take them down. It's really quite sad.

DRM (digital rights management) is something that publishers, Amazon (for Kindle) and B&Noble (for Nook) use to try to stop it. But, frankly, it's easy to strip DRM off of an ebook, so it's not really an obstacle for those that are determined to pirate. And many readers hate DRM because it limits where they can read their ebooks.

I've heard that using unique codes in the metadata of ebooks (hidden code) or to change a word in a unique place for ARCs can help to track the source of those that are leaked. Not sure this is widely practiced, though.

Best wishes & good luck.

Medievalist
11-29-2009, 11:40 PM
Lori--if you want help with a DMCA takedown, let me know. There's a super how-to Web site.

veinglory
11-29-2009, 11:45 PM
I think the issue here is not just that piracy happens, but that a reviewer is releasing the book. I know this has happened a few times is pre-release release of an ebook by a reviewer is an egregious example of piracy--people who might buy the book are more likely to be tempted of the book is not available for sale. I magine that epublishers will soon start marking ARCs so they will know which review sites to cut off. IMHO is should be a one-strike policy. If a review site leaks a book they cannot be trusted.

Topaz044
11-30-2009, 12:36 AM
Heh, I've been pirated since I was fourteen when my fiction stories in English class were stolen by fellow classmates.

My book is also available at a few pirate sites. The only thing I can do is notify my publisher, and try to get it removed from the site. Unfortunately, it's not just books-it's also music, movies, pretty much everything that is digital. It's a sad part of having an e-book.

I'm sorry to hear about what your reviewer did. That is a serious breach of trust. :(

Gillhoughly
11-30-2009, 01:20 AM
I wish ALL publishers would put a little effort into shutting down the offenders. It would save the whole media industry millions, not just publishing.

I deal with this once a week with separate google alerts in place for my name + torrent, my name + download, the title + (etc.)

The pirates often post so they can download other stuff, usually porn. Some of those sites make me hurl, but I have the consolation that anyone cruising it will be looking for porn, not my backlist.

The offenders pay lip service to the DMCA, telling their subscribers "respect copyright," then turn a blind eye until I come along with a take down request.

And it has to be a request. They get very annoyed if you make any demands. They say that can't possibly keep track of the copyrighted material that gets uploaded, but I've never bought that one. Computers can do just about everything, including sending someone notice that illegal material has been uploaded.

Those parasites are well aware that if they did properly police themselves they would be out of business.

How about a little double-standard?

While the thieves who upload files are protected and anonymous, the copyright owners have to PROVE their ID with full contact information + the ISBNs of the works.

Sites like Sumo, 4Shared, Freshwap, Isohunt get repeated visits from me. I remain polite, and I thank them.

Some are search engines, and do not host the download itself, but if you're nice about it, they'll take down the link.

I agree that the morons who download a book wouldn't have bought it in the first place, but theft is theft and we don't need to put up with it or make it easy for them. I would no more download a book without paying for it than I'd shoplift from a store, but *some* people have that misplaced sense of entitlement.

They know they can't get caught.

Some of the thieves whine about how books are "free" at libraries, but that's an empty argument. The books were bought, and librarians keep track of how popular they are. The next time a book comes out from that writer they buy more copies and replace worn out ones.

The thieves whine about how used books don't make royalties for the writers--but that used book DID earn a royalty in its life cycle.

Besides--used stores don't sell or give away "Xeroxes".

Here's the e-mail I send to the share sites:

Subject: Takedown Request

Hello,

The following pages on your website have copyrighted material available for download in violation of your TOS. (Read their TOS to make sure this is correct. You may have to tailor it to "links" instead of pages if it's a search site.)


Put in the FULL address of each page as it appears in the address bar.

The copyrighted works at issue are:
Title, Publisher, publishing date.
ISBN

Your full contact info: name, address, e-mail, phone number

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

I respectfully request that these pages be removed.

Thank you,


Some sites make this difficult to do. I usually google their name + DMCA and it *might* open the page to the email where you can report the problem.

Often in VERY FINE print at the bottom of a page is a vague "copyright" or "DMCA" link. I think they have to legally post that, but they make sure it's hard to find.

Other sites require that you become a member or you can't get a contact e-mail to send a request. A membership fee is sometimes needed. I let those go. I won't recover that fee in royalties. It violates Yog's Law.

Some sites will be outside the US.

More than once I've seen my backlist pirated to Europe and points east. Since I don't speak the language I have to let those go. Chances are good you won't be that widely read there. Like their USA counterparts, the subscribers are after more porn, after all!

I totally understand your anger. When I first found all my titles pirated--and it had been going on for some while, my blood boiled, but it doesen't get you far. Those sites are well-used to angry copyright holders and they will ignore you if you let them see that side of you.

Remain polite and persistant and educate others about things.

And be aware that many of the *big* publishing houses may not help. They've accepted piracy as a modern evil. Some even think it helps "promote" the books.

But so long as YOU choose not to give away your writing, keep reporting the problem to them and take action yourself if it helps you feel better!

thethinker42
11-30-2009, 02:58 AM
I think the issue here is not just that piracy happens, but that a reviewer is releasing the book.

Yes, exactly. Piracy is just one of those things. But a reviewer??


I magine that epublishers will soon start marking ARCs so they will know which review sites to cut off. IMHO is should be a one-strike policy. If a review site leaks a book they cannot be trusted.

I've contacted every editor with whom I'm on a first name basis, and they're all going to start implementing extra safeguards. And I agree on the one-strike policy. Big time.

Stijn Hommes
11-30-2009, 02:55 PM
The problem with DRM is that it also limits legitimate uses of downloaded copies. If my computer or e-Reader breaks down, I want to be able to restore a backup of a digital e-book to my system. One time downloads or ones with passwords you'd need to retrieve only make things complicated.

I'm in favor of watermark details in the ACR. Some magicians do it too to avoid advance copies leaking. They simply make their copies so they contain a date, number and customer name in a watermark so a leaked copy can be immediately traced back to the person who got it.


I don't know who printed your review copies, but Lulu.com appears to make a practice of making review copies available for download/sale. Do a Google search on your title and see if your review printer comes up in the search. I was horrified when that happened to me. And they (Lulu) don't seem to care about it. Puma Where did you get this from? Lulu only releases review copies to the author and only after they approve that copy will a book be available for sale. The previews some books have are decided by the author. Some authors allow their entire work to be previewed others don't.

If someone went to Lulu.com to print out a pirated copy of your book, then you can report them. The staff actually do care about that. (I know, since I did some forum volunteer work for them.) If you need any help with reporting violations to them, I'd be happy to help.

Puma
11-30-2009, 05:43 PM
Stijn - That happened with my book, a year and a half ago. I was horrified. And it was posted by them for sale on the internet. I complained. It's gone now. Puma

veinglory
11-30-2009, 07:30 PM
Where did you get this from? Lulu only releases review copies to the author and only after they approve that copy will a book be available for sale. The previews some books have are decided by the author. Some authors allow their entire work to be previewed others don't.

Lulu accidentally release a lot of private projects through Amazon a while back. I think they eventually fixed it, but not with any alacrity.

kristin724
04-03-2010, 10:13 AM
I have google alerts for my novel The Vampire Family set up. Sometimes its a pain because now everyone is using that slogan for the stupid Twilight vamps (we were released before her!) but I also get a lot of notices of piracy sites. A dozen at last count I think. Some I can send the formal e-letter and remove it, others are bulk package downloads that are sadly beyond an authors control.

Now, my sales are low, and I seriously don't wonder if it isn't because anyone who wants my books doesn't have to effing buy it! I agree there needs to be a stronger encrypted file and universal ebook format before we being to worry about these kindles and noobies and competing readers. Otherwise, everything will jsut end up being free content-whether by intention or piracy.

Jay Jennings
04-03-2010, 12:24 PM
1. I make my living writing/selling software and some weeks I get hundreds of registration notices with bogus info, which means it's a pirated copy. At $97 a copy if just a fraction of those would buy I'd never worry about money.

I've mostly stopped trying to track down the torrent sites that have my software because I either have time to do development and marketing or I have time to do paperwork, but not both. I figure my time is better spent creating.

2. There are book authors out there who put their work online completely FREE -- at the same time it's available in stores. Two that I know of off the top of my head, Seth Godin writing non-fiction, and Cory Doctorow writing fiction.

In those cases and others that I've read about, they say offering the free online copy INCREASES sales of the physical book.

Just something to think about.

Jay Jennings

veinglory
04-04-2010, 01:19 AM
In those cases and others that I've read about, they say offering the free online copy INCREASES sales of the physical book.

This is a model that works fine if you have a physical book, and the physical book is your work-horse in terms of profit. But if you are entirely or mainly an ebook-only writer it doesn't make sense to give something away and expect people to pay for it. And if you are a book review service involved in large scale digital pirating review copies you are biting the hand that feeds you big time.

Xelebes
04-04-2010, 11:14 AM
The trick?

Watermark ARCs the same way photographers watermark their photos. Better than that, watermark the name and address of the Reviewer it has been sent to so you'll know who uploaded it.

Jamesaritchie
04-04-2010, 08:33 PM
It isn't isolated. There have always been lowlife thieves, and the easier it is to get away with being a thief, the more thieves there will be.

mscelina
04-04-2010, 08:44 PM
Interesting that this should come up today. I was talking to a review coordinator for another e-publisher today. We've suspected for a long time that one specific review site either had a reviewer that was an e-pirate or that someone close to a reviewer was an e-pirate. We've been trying to catch them. Part of the problem is that some review sites have no safeguards about which of their reviewers have access to submitted e-books. Just yesterday, I was tracking our reviewed works from this specific site and lo and behold! I was led to a torrent exchange site called Mininova where I found copies of that e-book exchanged on one thread, and a how-to guide at removing DRM protections from e-books on another. Lovely.

Hey thinker--if you know which review site is the suspected culprit in your case, PM me and I'll let you know the one we think it is. You might be surprised--it's one of the biggies.

jennontheisland
04-04-2010, 08:48 PM
Reviewing is a nice way to get free books. And people who upload books to pirating sites aren't going to go paying for stuff then give it away. I'm completely not surprised that reviewers would be stocking torrent sites.

veinglory
04-04-2010, 10:13 PM
It does seem to me that review copies could be subtly marked to show which review site received them. Then if marked copies appear on torrent sites, they get cut off.

mscelina
04-04-2010, 10:22 PM
Any review site that I discover for certain is permitting or facilitating e-piracy will never get another review copy from us.

Medievalist
04-05-2010, 07:50 AM
If you're sending eArcs out as MSWord files, they include extra meta data in the file--including the OS/Owner of the account on which the file was opened, and when.

There are also a number of ways to add metadata to .pdf files so that they may be tracked.

mscelina
04-05-2010, 07:56 AM
Most review sites ask for .pdf files; some want .zip files.

veinglory
04-05-2010, 08:03 PM
I have heard suggestions that in the pdf you can change a punctuation mark or spacing on the copyright page to be a discreet marker.

CheshireCat
04-08-2010, 04:18 AM
Welcome to the 21st century. Ain't it grand?

The Internet is wonderful -- except when it isn't.

Anyway, in addition to firing off takedown requests if you decide to do that, also be sure to notify your publisher. Yes, some do nothing, but as more and more reports get filed, they'll sit up and pay attention. Some of the Big Name publishers are already beginning to actively, even aggressively, sic their legal departments on various sites and individuals.

Because as ebook sales inch upward and print sales remain stagnant or decline, it's beginning to hurt their botton line, and in this lousy economy they simply can't afford to ignore the issue any longer.