In the age of self-publishing, the ease with which one can publish their work has increased to magnificent and life-changing heights.
It also means your published and copyrighted content is easier to steal.
A simple understanding of copyright is this: the moment something is created by an individual, it is copyrighted to that person. Not since 1989 has U.S. law required that a person register their work with the U.S. Copyright Office, though it is still recommended for some projects to do the paperwork (and pay the several hundred dollar fee) to register. Also, according to this article written by Helen Sedwick on The Book Designer, you cannot sue someone for copyright infringement unless the work has been registered.
*For some easily digestible information on copyrights, check out this page on Copyright Kids.*
Unfortunately, though your work is copyrighted and cannot LEGALLY be reprinted or resold in any fashion without your permission, that doesn’t mean it isn’t. At this very moment, your self-published book might be on a “free e-books” site like General Books, or could’ve had the content stolen and reformatted with a new cover and title, currently being sold and making a profit for someone else!
What Can You Do To Prevent e-Book Piracy & Plagiarizing Of Your Self-Published Work?
The experts recommend a few things. One is to follow the lead of traditional publishers such as Penguin, as described by intellectual property lawyer (and frequent blogger on fantastic sites such as Better Novel Project and Molly Greene: Writer), Kathryn Miller Goldman. In this video, Goldman gives her suggestion about one of the best ways to protect your book: reminding the reader of the work that went into it, and how important it is to purchase an authorized copy in order to continue supporting the author.
If you come across a pirated e-book of your work on Amazon, iTunes or other distributors, file a claim to have the work taken down. It’s unknown whether the rightful owner of the material is compensated for any funds paid to those who profited from the pirated material, but according to this Teleread article, they aren’t.
*File a claim on Amazon’s copyright infringement page here.*
Finally, you can set up Google Alerts for your author name, the title of your book as well as phrases from the content. In a continuation of Helen Sedwick’s article, it was recommended by Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker that unique phrases from the first and last 10 percent of the content be included with a Google Alert. Set them up here.
Ultimately, your creative work is YOUR property and no profits, financial or otherwise, should be made off of it without your permission. For more resources on e-book (and paperback) piracy and what to do if it happens, check out these posts:
Self-Published Authors: What You Should Know About Copyright and Plagiarism by Lynn Usrey on Live Hacked
Has Your eBook Been Pirated? What To Do: Step 1 by Kathryn Miller Goldman on Molly Greene: Writer
Has Your eBook Been Pirated? What To Do: Step 2 by Kathryn Miller Goldman on Molly Greene: Writer
And as always, for any of your writing, editing or marketing needs, don’t hesitate to contact the Midnight Publishing staff right away. We are happy to help you on the quest to publishing your work (and PROTECTING it!). We can’t wait to hear from you!