Monday, 19 September 2016

The Cost of Book Piracy - Lucy Coats

Today is Official Talk Like A Pirate Day, but there'll be no Aharrs or Ahoys in this post. Instead I want to talk about a different kind of pirate - the book pirate. Book piracy is rife, and everyone needs to be aware of it. As authors, almost every one of our books will have been pirated and offered as an illegal download at some point - figures show that almost 80% of e-books are pirated. It's almost impossible to police, but in my case, if I find one, I pass it on to my publishers who will issue a take-down notice, but it's like fighting the wind.

In one recent case an author's book was given out in ARC form at a literature convention. Within days that book was up online (it had been scanned) as a free download. This was before publication. So that particular author's book was given a death blow before it was even in the shops.

There's also another kind of piracy - plagiarism or passing off. Sometime ago I was scrolling through research information on Athene, when I happened to notice something on Wattpad (for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a an online community where subscribers post their own writing, eiither through the Wattpad website or a mobile app). It was an Athene story - and as I read through it, it sounded more and more familiar. It was my own work, passed off as someone else's. It was not a nice feeling. Scribd is another culprit - despite their BookID initiative.  Illegal downloads and copyright infringement of foreign editions are also a daily problem for some authors - including CJDaugherty, who tweets about it regularly.

Think about the figure above for a second. At 25% royalty on a e-book - that adds up to serious money. When most authors earn less than the national minimum living wage, every single illegally downloaded copy of our books hits us in the pocket. So what can we do? There's a new programme out there for Google, currently in Beta-testing called Blasty. I'm going to give it a try and see what happens.

Meanwhile - if someone tries to tell you that book content should be free to download 'just like music is' - feel entitled to snarl like Blackbeard and educate them as to just why their kind of piracy is just as bad as stealing a physical copy. Because that's what book piracy is - stealing. And we can't afford it. 

OUT NOW: Cleo 2: Chosen and Cleo (UKYA historical fantasy about the teenage Cleopatra VII) '[a] sparkling thriller packed with historical intrigue, humour, loyalty and poison.' Amanda Craig, New Statesman
Also out:  Beasts of Olympus series "rippingly funny" Publishers Weekly US starred review 
Lucy's Website - Twitter - Facebook - Instagram


Sue Bursztynski said...

You might also point out that free music downloads are also bad! Unless the creator chooses to do it, of course. And there are some of those.

Yes, my books have been been pirated too, though I suspect nowhere near as many times as yours. I've asked my publishers to sort it out for me too, but sometimes there isn't a contact address, so how can you?

On one web site, not actually a pirate site, someone was cheekily asking where they could get a free download of my novel Wolfborn. Someone else pointed out that it was still in copyright, not sure if that had any effect.

You know what's really annoying? When people tell you that it's great publicity for you to have your book pirated! How? And anyway, it should be your own decision to give away your work for publicity, not someone else's.

You can be sure those people would not be impressed if someone walked into their homes and helped themselves to the furniture, telling them that they should be flattered!

Penny Dolan said...

Well said,Lucy! I've even - on a school visit - had a teacher explain she'd downloaded a "free" copy to read to her class. Teachers use so much downloaded material that I don't think she understood quite what her action really meant. With words failing me and another session immediately after, I didn't have time to explain!

Helen said...

I've heard people try to justify piracy on the basis that "borrowing from the library is free too so what's the difference?" Well, the difference is that for every library loan the author gets 6p in PLR payment. For every pirate download the author gets...nothing.

Brent Reid said...

Great article Lucy; I absolutely loathe piracy. It affects many of my friends and I've written on it myself: Good luck with Blasty!

Anonymous said...

From looking at the website FAQs it seems Blasty removes the Google search link that leads to an infringement but doesn't report or remove the link from the actual infringing website