Evidently, there’s been quite an uproar over what Astatalk did last week regarding fiction. I’ve read about it in a few places and a good friend who is a literary agent sent me an e-mail about it last Thursday.
Over the past year or so, I’ve taken a step back with regard to all things related to book pirates, file sharing, and even Astatalk. I’ve even written updates to previous posts, stating that I’m more interested now in learning why people pirate books (or anything), and that I’d like to continue to learn by encouraging their anonymous comments and protecting their privacy. There’s been an interesting, ongoing discussion on this particular post I wrote a while ago.
And just so everyone knows this for certain, don’t blame me if Astatalk won’t let you download fiction anymore. I haven’t filed an abuse form, made a single complaint, or written a negative post about book pirating or Astatalk in well over a year. I decided, after reading many of the comments to my pirate posts, to remain objective about the entire topic, making only one claim, which is that I personally do not, and never will, pirate books or anything else myself. Whatever decision Astatalk made, or whatever prompted them to make this decision, had nothing to do with me. I’m just one small writer in a large sea of many, and I don’t have that kind of power.
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.
Update 12/5/10: Since I wrote this post and others like it, I’ve learned a great deal from readers and I hope to continue to learn. I’m seeing a different POV that I never expected to see, and the comment thread for this post has presented some interesting discussion. I hope it continues, too. I’m now seeing there are two differents sides to *every* story. If I were to have written this same blog post today, I don’t think I would have been so harsh, and I apologize to anyone who may have been offended.
Every once in a while I like to post about book pirates. The worst of the worst is a place called http://www.astatalk.com/. They abuse writers, steal their work, and absolutely ignore all requests to take the books down.
But it’s the people who use these sites that interest me. What kind of a person steals, knowing they are stealing, and thinks they can get away with it. I’ve already exposed a few of them. And now I’m going after someone who goes by the name “Athena99”
Athena99 thinks they can’t be exposed and that their real identity is private. They think they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet forever. But there are ways to track people like Athena99 down, as there are ways to track other’s down.
At the top of this post, you’ll find Athena99’s astatalk photo. People who steal books don’t seem to understand it’s punishable by law, with fines and/or imprisonment.
I’ve posted about this topic already, to the point of frustration. But m/m romance author, GA Hauser, has been working hard to stop these pirates, and I wanted to post something about it again. Here’s a link to her blog, where she discusses this in more depth http://gahausersblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/game-of-blame.html
What are book pirates? They own web sites where people can go to download e-books for free. This means that no one makes money except the pirates. The authors make nothing. The publishers make nothing. And if no one makes any money by publishing e-books, in time there won’t be any published.
Downloading e-books from book pirates is illegal. It’s stealing. You can be prosecuted. But more than that, it’s also morally and ethically wrong.
Right now, ravenousromance.com is having a huge e-book sale. All e-books are only $1.79 each. This is cheap. You can’t get books in WalMart this cheap. So why would anyone want to steal them?
Here’s a link to one of the worst book pirate sites. When authors ask them to take down their books, they absolutely refuse to listen. http://astatalk.com/takedown-policy/
And here’s a facebook link where you can become a fan to stop this site from pirating books. http://www.facebook.com/#/pages/Close-down-Astalavista-pirate-site/226369672766?ref=mf
I signed the petition below, I hope everyone else does. It only takes a minute.
I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed:”Fight eBook Piracy” http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/fightebookpiracy?e I really think this is an important cause, and I’d like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It’s free and takes less than a minute of your time.Thanks!
This so-called underground web site, http://astatalk.com/, is stealing three of my books, and I know for a fact that it is stealing many more books from other people.
If you are a writer, and you’ve been through the battles of having your book downloaded illegally, please check this out, file an abuse, and don’t let them get away with it.