Thursday, February 7, 2019

One Vertebrae at a Time

To quote the late author Harlan Ellison: “If you put your hand in my pocket, you’ll drag back six inches of bloody stump.” Harlan was referring to individuals stealing his copyrighted work product for their own financial gain and literally taking grocery money out of his mouth. Harlan, an acquaintance I greatly admired both as a man and as a writer, was a far nicer person than I am. Steal from me and I'll thrust my arm up your ass, rip out your spinal cord, and feed it to you one vertebrae at a time. Gleefully.

Let me clarify: I'm not directing this at my fans who enjoy and support my work. Unlike many authors, I've been supportive of fans of my work, often inviting them to participate in fan fiction projects, wikis, charity projects (like Careywood), performances of my stories as plays, and other fan projects with my characters so long as they are not produced for sale or presenting my work in a harmful or defamatory light. This post is directed at scammers and crooks, intellectual property thieves who steal an author's copyrighted work and sell it without permission and keep the money that should have gone to the creator. That's probably not you; but it happens a lot!

So-called respectable sites like Daily Motion, Linked-In, and YouTube are havens for book pirates who post videos and associated links offering free copies of my books for download. Almost all of them do not have copies of any of my books. When you click the link you are taken to a succession of websites -- sometimes as many as eight consecutive links -- until you come to a signup page asking for your name, address, email, and credit card information. Yes, you need to sign up to get your free downloaded stolen book. When you click the form, two things happen: (1) the site (usually owned by a disguised overseas entity which is why it took you eight clicks to get to the landing page) gets your credit card information (your credit card will now end up on a list for sale on the Dark Web); and (2) a trojan will secretly be downloaded onto your computer. That's right: spyware, like a keystroke logger recording you type in your bank and brokerage accounts and passwords. Sometimes, it will even place ransomware on your computer and lock you out of your files. What do you get in return? A two-page PDF ad for the book you could have download for free from the Amber Book Company website.

For example, in September 2018, LinkedIn was sent a DMCA Takedown notice citing no fewer than 1,008 specific instances of copyright infringement on its site in merely one week (the letter was 98 pages long)! Daily Motion, based in France, had so many violations I had to learn enough French just to keep up with all the correspondence. Google responds quickly but is inundated by offenders.

Then there are the sites that are pure thieves. They pirate (steal) authors' books and sell them on their own websites ... without paying the author. This past week I found several of my novels listed for sale on -- except neither my publisher nor my distributors have any sales agreements with them, and I've received no royalties. I contacted one of my distributors who told me: "KissLibrary is not a vendor we are affiliated with. If you see your title on their service, we would recommend issuing a DMCA takedown, as that platform has been known to host illegally hosted titles." KissLibrary lists its offices (right down to a Google map on its website) as being in Calgary, Canada, but a bit of research shows it's really located in Belarus (formerly White Russia, part of the Soviet Union) and now a haven of cyber fraud. A Google search confirmed numerous complaints of KissLibrary hosting pirated books. Fortunately, I have friends in Belarus (and many other parts of the world, having led a long and at times unsavory life). The KissLibrary site is now offline and there is no information on the fate of the thieves behind it. I have no idea what may have happened to them... that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

One vertebrae at a time.

No comments:

Post a Comment