How To Deal With Copyright Infringement
I do regular searches on myself and my books (usually every couple of months), and I highly recommend you do the same. Whilst these checks sometimes bring good news of features on websites and blogs I didn't know about, they can also bring bad news. Unfortunately my latest check came back with the latter. I found several sites, each with several of my books, offering them as illegal free downloads. An authors nightmare.
So what do you do when you find sites selling unauthorised copies of your books?
The first step is to send a DMCA Take Down Notice.
The DMCA (Digital Milennium Copyright Act) is a U.S. law designed to protect authors’ rights and facilitate access to information. The DMCA requires U.S. ISPs & website administrators to investigate and address claims of copyright infringement promptly.
Susan Spann offers a great sample letter and information for how to prepare a DMCA Take Down Notice on her website at http://www.susanspann.com/how-to-prepare-and-use-a-dmca-takedown-notice/ (I highly recommend checking out her site for other PubLaw topics. I also suggest following Susan on Twitter and her weekly #PubLaw chat).
The bad news is that the DMCA only applies in the US so if the pirate website is offshore it won't comply.
If your work is being infringed, and you don't know how to stop it, consulting a copyright lawyer will help you learn your options.
You also need to keep in mind that sadly legal actions are not always cost effective, or in fact effective at all. The sad fact is that even if you manage to take down a website, new ones pop up every day.
Internet piracy is frustrating but knowing there are available steps to take can help you feel a little more in control should and if the time comes where you need them.
Have you ever found websites offering unauthorised copies of your books? What did you do about it? Do you have experience with legal actions against websites trying to illegally sell copies of your books?