I have recently discovered that my book Confessions from the Massage Couch had been made available as a free download without my authorisation by a third party website that is not linked to Smashwords, the self-publishing platform I use to sell my book (also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble).
I then found out that there’s more than one website doing exactly the same thing: they are all copies of the same website with different domain names. These websites charge a subscription fee ($39.95 a month) to make books available to subscribers for free.
PLEASE NOTE: AUTHORS DO NOT GET PAID ANY ROYALTIES FROM THESE WEBSITES
What I have been doing so far to stop third party websites from distributing my book for free:
1. as there’s no email address or contact page on these websites, I have registered on their website and left a comment under the listing for my book asking for it to be removed from the website immediately
2. I took to twitter and asked fellow authors to be vigilant and urged them to request for their books to be taken down from these websites
3. I have emailed Smashwords warning them about this unauthorised distribution channel for their books. Their reply was that they didn’t know about these websites and they are in no way affiliated with them. However, they did not intervene and told me to solve the problem myself. They are also losing out on royalties. Their quote: “We believe obscurity is a bigger threat to authors than piracy” – I disagree, authors need royalty payments to make a living.
4. I have emailed the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society warning them of this issue. Unfortunately they are unable to offer advice on this matter.
5. I was advised (thanks Olney Massage) to search in the web domains registrar for the owners of these third party websites. A search on register.com returned no results.
A link on the bottom of the webpage for the third party website takes you to a Russian hosting site http://www.liveinternet.ru/ which, when I searched on register.com, returned no result.
I then searched on whois using one of the third party website domains and found that the owner of the domain is based in Russia. There was an email address provided so I emailed the owner requesting the immediate removal of my book from the listing.
I was pleasantly surprised that the webmaster emailed back saying that he had removed the listing – now my book is no longer available for free on any of the websites I had spotted.
If you have been affected by piracy, I also recommend reading what happened to Top Left Design and how they tackled copyright infringement.