Monday, May 6, 2013

Google Alerts and Internet Piracy

Yesterday, thanks to Google Alerts, I was made aware of a copyright violation concerning one of my books, Coffee, Cigarettes, and Murderous Thoughts.

When I initially set up the Google Alerts, it was to track what websites talk about my writing, to follow on various posts, and to learn what the readers are saying. After all, we live in an interactive world, and the Internet offers the author a range of possibilities unheard of in the days before the Internet. When one of the alerts returned a link I haven't seen before, I clicked on the site.

To my surprise, it linked to a page on LiveJournal where my book was offered as a free download. Not only this download was unauthorized, but that particular books was never offered for free. The poster obviously violated my copyright, and was plainly stealing my material. As an author, I strive to reach as wide an audience as possible, while at the same time trying to balance what is a fair price vs the hard work that goes to writing a book.

I contacted LiveJournal immediately. They were very responsive, and the offending link was suspended within hours. So, a big thumbs up to LiveJournal for doing the right thing.

Thanks to Google Alerts, I was made aware of this as soon as the material was posted. Had it not been for this service, I might have never know.

I'm quite certain that there are other writers dealing with the same issue, and I hope their problems are addressed as quickly as mine was.

As a reader, I enjoy the occasional giveaway an author may host. Nevertheless, this is completely different from what the LiveJournal user did - he or she shamelessly stole my material, which, by any standards, is the wrong thing to do. I will never know how many files were downloaded or how the user obtained my files in the first place. I just want him or her to know that this is stealing.

Fellow authors, I'd encourage you to conduct an occasional search for your own work online. Fellow readers, please consider the author's rights before downloading stolen material.

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