Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting Google Alerts about my books and each time the Google alert has pointed me to a phrase which has said: “Download name of book by Taylor Ellwood” I click on the link and lo and behold I’m taken to one of the various download sites, where a pdf of one of my books has appeared, ready to be downloaded for free, without my authorization or consent. My books have been pirated. Fortunately I am able to do something about it, and get the book removed from the site so that my writing isn’t available for download for free. Unfortunately, if you’re an author, artist, or musician, you do face the perils of online piracy, where people download your work for free. And if you don’t know what to do about that problem, it can be frustrating because you feel, justifiably, that your hard work isn’t being respected. So today I’m going to share a guide for how to handle online piracy.
1. Google alerts is your friend. You won’t know if online piracy of your book(s) is occurring unless you set up Google Alerts. I have Google Alerts for each title of my book, my name, as well as my business names. Having the Google alerts in place allows me to keep track of what’s being said about me or my work online, and in this case, notifies me of online piracy. You don’t need to have a gmail account to set up Google Alerts. All you need is an email account to which the Google alerts can be sent to. If you aren’t sure how to access Google Alerts, simply Google it and you’ll get pointed to the page. To use Google alert, all you need to do is enter your search terms, what type of search results you want, how often you want them and what email address you want them to go to. Create the Alert and let it go to work. You’ll get the occasional email with alerts, and it will tell you what’s shown up on the web.
2. How to handle the online piracy of your book. You’ve gotten an email like I described above. Now what do you do? First, of all, don’t panic. Click the link and see where it takes you. For example here’s a result I got recently where I was informed that Pop Culture Magick was available for download. As you can see it takes me to Google docs, however the book isn’t actually available on Google docs. I need to click the link that says you can download your book here. When I click that link it takes me to Download Genius, one of the sites that people use to share books, music, etc. Now I’ve already had Pop Culture Magick removed from their website, but let me walk you through how to do that.
3. DMCA is the Key. Go to Download Genius (note this just one site among many, but the instructions I provide here will work for all of them). Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the site and click DMCA. DMCA is code for copyright. If you feel your work is being infringed on, then that’s the link you click to find out what you can do to get your book taken down. If you go to the DMCA page, you’ll note a long explanation, followed with some instructions, which include a link you need to click to access their form which allows you to get the book removed. I recommend opening that link up in a second tab so that way you can follow the instructions.
Important note: Be polite when making the request to remove your book. Yes you may be upset, but if you accuse them of privacy, they will just ignore you in the future. Be polite, and they’ll remove the book. Here’s an example of what I write:
My name is Taylor Ellwood and I’m the author of “Name of Book”. My contact info is email address and phone number. My book is currently on your website at this link: link address.
I have not, in good faith, authorized my book to be made available on your site and would like you to take it down. The information in this notice is accurate under penalty of perjury.
Simple and to the point. You’ll usually hear back within in 24 hours and the book is always taken down.
Obviously this doesn’t stop your book from being pirated and you may have to make this request multiple times on a given site, but if you use Google Alerts and follow this advice you can keep the piracy of your work to a minimum.