Sunday, August 22, 2010

Astatalk and Other Pirate Sites Where People Download Free Books Illegally

I've posted about astatalk, which is an illegally operated pirate site that allows people to download free books and infringes on copyrights without thinking twice about it. I've mentioned how these entitled people steal books from authors who work long hard hours and rarely make enough money to pay their rent. I've even gone so far as to post the fake profiles of some of the people who join these pirate sites and interact as though they'd paid for the books they've read.

But the fact of the matter is that right now the only thing authors and publishers can do is keep on top of their books and make sure they continue to file abuse forms to have their books removed from the sites. I know first hand how daunting this can be. Sometimes it only takes minutes for a book to be taken down and then added again by someone else. And if you're like me, and you have over forty books out there, it becomes a part time job to keep filing abuse forms.

I'm writing this post in part because I've been receiving a lot of e-mails from new authors asking about book pirates. Most are shocked They have just had their first book published and they've never even heard of book pirates, illegal downloads, and filing abuse forms. But more than that, they are even more shocked when I tell them there's nothing they can do except keep filing the abuse forms. And though it's a vicious circle that never ends, at least they are doing something to protect their copyrights.

I also receive e-mails and messages from readers who actually download free books on these pirate sites. They are a bold crowd, indeed. One just sent me a long message stating that the only reason he goes to these sites for free illegal downloads is because he likes checking out the e-book first to know whether or not he'll want to buy the print book. In other words, this reader doesn't think e-books are important enough to take seriously as valid stand alone books...at least not compared to print books. He views e-books as samples, with a lesser value. Evidently, this person hasn't been keeping up with what's going on in publishing. I doubt he's invested money in an e-reader either. And though he seems like a nice guy, aside from the fact that he's not getting the point behind e-books in general, he's way off base from a legal standpoint. Even if his argument were true, which it isn't, he's still stealing books. If he went into a restaurant and ordered an entire meal just to see how the food was there, and then refused to pay until the next time he returned, the owner would call the police and he'd be arrested. In New Jersey, where I come from, the owner would probably take him out back and break both his legs, too.

So while the issue continues to frustrate authors and publishers, the only thing we can do is keep up with our books and file abuse forms. We need to take a few hours each week to learn as much as we can about these pirate sites and continue to fight back. And though it seems futile right now, I do think we'll eventually find one or two book pirates and punish them as an example. I know there are now many authors working with the law, undercover, and they are getting to know the people who download books illegally and they are going to scoop them up eventually. A free ride can only last just so long. And then you have to pay for your actions.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

You failed to mention one thing. Get a lawyer. If you cannot afford one go to artlaw.com. There is a questionaire where you can contact a lawyer and just check the box "I can't afford to pay". Notice the problems astatalk is having? And it's not computer problems.

ryan field said...

Thanks for this info!!

Anonymous said...

To clear up a material misstatement in this post, Asta-whatever and other file sharing sites are not “illegally operated.” The sites are perfectly legal. Also, these sites do not post or download anything, illegal or otherwise. It is the members/users who may be downloading and uploading illegal copies. These are the very same people who purchase the books. When an author sees his/her e-book being shared on-line, they should keep in mind it’s THEIR readership purchasing e-books and sharing them on-line. True, not all e-book buyers are file sharers. However, someone had to buy the book(s) in order to share the files. Actually, LOTS of some ones. It’s not just a few file sharers on the internet exchanging e-books.

It’s bad for everyone if authors lose tons of money because it impacts their desire or ability to write more books. And readers want more books! Also, file sharing usually leads to increase in cost. And readers don’t want that! However, all forms of creative work have been or are being shared (cassette tapes, CDs, VHS, DVDs, paper books, photos, paintings, etc.) There is no way to wipe out file sharing or even put a large dent in the practice. An author can choose to not publish their books in electronic form; however, even books are being scanned and downloaded.

I guess my point is that readers are illegally sharing e-books not the sites themselves. There are lots of “legal” purposes for file sharing. These sites do attempt to catch and remove copyrighted material. However, most websites are not mega-corporations with a huge staff and budget. A website may only have one or two mods to monitor their site. The admins post notices prohibiting the sharing of copyright materials. If caught, a user may get a warning or two before their account is banned/removed. Since that user can just open another account, it’s a never ending cycle. So unless we’re all willing to forfeit some major constitutional rights, there is just no viable way to stop the sharing of copyrighted materials.

Anonymous said...

Well, astatalk is back up, so whatever was happening didn't stick.

ryan field said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

As I read your post I kept nodding my head. I just published my first e-book and on the same day it released, someone was begging for a copy on Astatalk. I was shocked and outraged.

When I contacted them they told me that "asking" for a copy wasn't illegal. Fine. If I see someone post it, I'll contact my lawyer.

They offered me the option to go in and post a link for this person to buy my book. How generous. I will do so but I have a feeling it will come right down.

When I asked this person what they got out of it, he/she said they only made 20 bucks a month. Yeah. Right.

But now that the big boys in NY are seeing their wallets getting hit by piracy, they are starting to do something. I have a feeling that what happened with music will happen with ebooks. :)

Oh, and I loved the title of your book, "Missing Jackson's Hole" so much that I popped over to Amazon and got a copy. :)

ryan field said...

Thanks for commenting, Anitra...

It's a never ending battle with pirates, and very exhausting. Good luck with your new book. There are still good people out there doing things the legal way. So don't get too let down!!

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Just started your book and I think I'll be spending a bit of money buying up your back list! Very hot! :)

ryan field said...

Thanks...I appreciate that coming from another author!!

Anonymous said...

hi there.

I'm a reader who'll happily legally purchase an ebook but because I live outside the US I cannot do that due to geo restrictions.

Piracy isn't something that will be easily defeated but I think that publishing houses are adding fuel to fire by making it easier for readers download the illegal version than to do the right thing and buy a legal copy (for non-US readers that is).

Having said that, I've never read any of your books and know nothing of your publishing house but I just thought I'd let you know that there are readers out there who want to support authors but are unable to.
If your publishing house does impose geo restrictions then perhaps you should take this up with them.

ryan field said...

I honestly don't know if there are geo restrictions. I do receive reader mail from all over the world...from the far east to London. A lot from The Phillipines. I will ask, though. Now I'm curious.

Thanks for commenting.

Vesna said...

I tried to buy one of your books online (the kindle version) and got the " the service is not availabe in your country" response (I'm from Slovenia). And another thing, every site I tried purchasing from only accepts Visa or Mastercard, even for establishing a Paypal account. So I can assure you the sites aren't friendly for people from smaller countries.

ryan field said...

Thanks for commenting and letting me know. If you e-mail me about this with more detail, I will see what I can do to help. I will keep it confident and totally private. Put, "Can't Buy Your Book" in the subject line of the e-mail so I know what to expect.

rfieldj@aol.com

ryan field said...

P.S.

And if you don't hear from me, let me know on the blog. Sometimes things go to spam and I miss them.

ryan field said...

Vesna...

I checked with one publisher, www.ravenousromance.com, and they told me they accept paypal and all credit cards, and have readers from Slovenia buy e-books all the time. Maybe you've been going to the wrong web sites? I don't know. But if you do go to ravenous romance and you still have problems, let me know in an e-mail.

Thanks...