Monday, October 28, 2013

Take Down Letters

Somebody brought up DCMA letters and their intention to charge in, sword swinging,
and take down the enemy. 

I have thought about this a good bit and will now for no particular reason share my conclusions with you.

I am not fond of folks who swipe the hard work of writer and  editor.  It sticks in my craw, to use the technical term.

But if you send this site a take down notice ... and send them another take down notice six weeks later when they have reposted the illegal download ... and then send them another ... and another ...
It is all very iterative.
And, I gotta say, there are lots of sites out there ...

How much time and effort will you spend? 
How many actual $$ sales have you thereby gained?
Is this the most efficient use of your time?
Is worrying about this the most efficient use of your energy?

If you google "joanna bourne" and  "free download" you'd get about 2000 hits.

Most folk who go for these illegal downloads never actually read the books.
Most of them never would buy the book if you put sugar candy on the cover.

Some folk who illegally download you go pick up a legal book later
or recommend you to friends who are more conscientious
or suggest you to their library. 

Some folk who illegally download you give you good reviews.  (I hope.  I mean, to first steal your book and then give you a bad review seems a bit much.)

Some folk who illegally download you can't get hold of a legal copy in their own country and to them I say, "Have at."

Go into the tavern and play your songs and if somebody throws money into the hat, bless them.  If somebody listens and enjoys and walks away without contributing, that is the burden on their own back.  Don't let it be one on yours.


  1. I try not to go down this rabbit hole, because in addition to the moral ambiguity, the strategic ambiguity (if authors and publishers were aggressive about this instead of shrugging, would pirates hesitate?), the diplomatic ambiguity (where the book is not available in any form at any price), nobody is collecting much data about the impact of piracy.

    One small study suggested that piracy works like a free download for midlist authors and boosts sales. Haven't seen the study methodology, but how in the world do you do an A/B comparison? And a scheduled, limited free download is very different from endless open season.

    Pragmatically, I can't be bothered to send notice after notice. I do have an account with MUSO, and they've taken down maybe 400 sites so far this year.

    I also asked my publisher to embed an invisible thumbprint in my files, to trace what leaks are coming from where, MANY of the authors at my house say the piracy starts when the NetGalley file goes live.

    I did the google, Jo. You + free download yielded 102,000 hits. I did the same for Grace Burrowes + free download and came up with 26,000 hits on maybe twenty titles, though your titles have been up several years longer than mine. The real question though, is how many times are the files stolen, and with what impact on sales?

    And who has time to sit on a toadstool and ponder that, when there are more books to be written?

  2. Some places are worth fighting if they've done a large scoop of books and reaping a lot of money from other people's hard work. Some places are deliberately hard to contact so a lot of time maybe wasted pushing them.
    But there have been several world wide joint efforts to have sites removed that were blatantly selling thousands of books eg on Facebook and Wordpress, and it was wonderful to see them shut down.

    1. An effort to stop the -- 'we take people's books and sell them' -- is something the publishers get behind. This is money out of their pockets.

  3. It's maddening, yes, and I can't say I have anything other than contempt for the pirates. That said, How much time would it take to chase them all down and make an official protest? And isn't it more fun to write?

    1. What you said. So much what you said.

  4. Hi Grace --

    You put it well. So much effort for what may be little result.

    Neil Gaimon -- famously -- speaks about this. An example here:

    He seems knowledgeable and sensible about it.

    The loss of sales is ambiguous. And the loss of time and effort is certain.
    The disruption of mind and spirit is sad. Writing is a generous art.

    But every once in a while I want to knock pirates over the head with a 2X4.

  5. Christine12:40 PM

    I know I am hopelessly behind the times on this topic- seeing that it was put up in October and it is now November- but it reminded me of something. I was inadvertently (and quite innocently) a "book pirate/thief" in my younger days. Many years ago when I was a poor student with a hunger for popular fiction and the budget for the public library (which did not share my tastes for paperback romance novels) I discovered a local discount shop (one of those privately owned hodge podge type stores of odds and ends, closeouts, random bits of craft supplies in odd colors and mechanical parts no one seems to want or need) had an entire bin of brand new but cover-less paperback books. I have to say it was a hardship for me at the time to give up the shiny covers of historical ladies with gravity defying hair and bosomy gowns but at three books for a buck rather than the spine prices of $3.99 or more a book, it was a sacrifice I made for fresh reading material. I would stop by every week to see if something new was added to the stacks and grabbed up some books by heretofore unknown authors like Jayne Ann Krentz, Dorothy Garlock etc. Since it was usually just one of each book, not lots of the same ones, I had figured the covers got torn or ripped when the bookstores had cut open the boxes and sold them at bargain basement prices because who wants a paperback without a cover except a poor and desperate yet voracious reader like myself? All my illusions were shattered one day when I flipped the title page of a cover-less book to find a notice in a black box stating "If you have bought this book without a cover, it has been reported as unsold and destroyed to the publisher.. yadayada" The point being the nice store was selling what was in effect STOLEN BOOKS. I was horrified being the Catholic school girl who had never so much as stolen a piece of gum in her life, let alone inadvertently ripped off authors! Needless to say I stopped buying books there and eventually either their supply got cut off or they got ratted out. I felt terrible about my part in it. Looking back though, I believe I had two Jayne Ann Krentz paperbacks from the cover less bin and ended up buying her entire oeuvre over the next years (when I finally had an income) which included not only her JAK books but her Amanda Quick and Castle books. I followed her into hardcovers when she made the leap and until the past couple of years used to auto buy all her new releases as soon as they came out. I even purchased reissued Stephanie James books when they were republished. It introduced me to other authors I bought compulsively over the years as well. While I did get a comparative handful of books that some authors never got their royalty shares from, over the years they got literally thousands of dollars in purchases from me at full prices and full royalties (hopefully). While I certainly don't condone book stealing, piracy or ripping off anyone's hard work (particularly the people I want to support because they write stuff I like!) I guess you have to look at the sites that you are unable to shut down as at least exposing your books to readers. I cannot tell you how many library books I have purchased for myself after reading them first for "free" and I think many other readers are the same way. Hopefully if your books do end up on these sites, they will end up bringing you paying readers in the long run.

    1. That's so funny ... only finding out after you've bought them that the books were not legitimately obtained. And most people have no idea.

      As to libraries -- I love libraries. I love used book stores. If people are getting 'free books' -- wonderful.