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.