Have you heard about MUSO, the company that acts as your agent to send Takedown Notices to websites that illegally upload files of your books?
That's right. Retain MUSO to help you combat book pirates, Copyright infringers, etc. All those people who steal your intellectual property rights and make it even harder for you to make a living by writing.
An Author's Lot
If you're an author, chances are you know more than you ever wanted to know about book piracy and copyright infringement. In fact, if you have proven to be a popular ebook or print author, you've probably already been victimized by having illegal free downloads of your books made available or illegally reproduced or illegally obtained copies of print books made available for sale on websites.
Cold Hard Truth
What you might not know is what MUSO can do for you. After using their services for several months, I'm happy to say they offer an effective way of dealing with those who steal the food from your children's mouths. No, they won't get every illegally uploaded book file out there, but neither can you. The problem is huge and growing.
Am I being overly dramatic in characterizing copyright infringement that way? No. I'm not. Copyright infringement is eating away at your income. Get enough pirated editions of your work out there and it will become more difficult to sell your book. Even legitimate book buyers may sometimes download free copies of your book because they don't know that the free download is illegal.
When someone lessens your ability to make a living by writing--and that's what copyright infringement does--then your income drops. If your income decreases enough, you'll eventually have to find a different way to make a living.
"The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works."
The problem with the DMCA is that it is a toothless watchdog. It provides a procedure for a rights holder to notify someone who is infringing on copyright. What is bad is that these websites that infringe put the burden of proof on you, the rights holder, not the person who wants to upload your pirated book file to every file sharing website in the known universe. They don't require uploaders to prove they are the rights owner, but just try getting them to remove the illegal upload.
They require you to send forms, proof of rights ownership, and jump through innumerable hoops before they will withdraw the illegally uploaded file. Plus some of these websites will even send you intimidating emails that threaten legal action against you!
Until the government starts levying high dollar fines and prison terms on those who knowingly violate the copyright laws of this country, nothing will change. I bet Internet Service Providers would subject their clients to a closer scrutiny if these Providers were sanctioned for letting these illegal websites operate under their umbrella.
From the second month of publishing ebooks, I started finding websites with illegal uploads of my ebooks. That was demoralizing and overwhelming. Depressed doesn't begin to describe my mood last summer when in one day I found 10 servers that had dozens of my book files on each server.
How could I even find the time to send Takedown Notices when each notice required a half a dozen steps in order to be accepted for review? When I realized that one site, in one day, had enough illegal downloads to have paid all my monthly expenses including my mortgage if the downloads had actually been sales rather than thefts, I knew I had to do something.
I'd heard about MUSO, a company that acts as your agent in sending Takedown Notices to websites that illegally upload your book files, so I researched them. Then I signed up. They may not catch every illegally uploaded file, but at least I know that they are acting on my behalf every day. I know that I am doing the best I can to stem the tide of illegal uploads.
I heartily endorse MUSO. Check them out here to see their standard U.S. Pricing page.
By the way, MUSO is outside the U.S., so there will be a Conversion Fee added by your credit card company to your monthly billing. My credit card charges 45 cents.
MUSO automatically finds the illegal uploads when you correctly fill out your campaign information. I have Google Alerts on my books set up so I get an email when a file is found too. With MUSO, if you find something they didn't catch, you can send the link via your Dashboard / Add Files.)
I'm the type of person who asks questions when I don't understand something so of course I emailed MUSO about this. James Mason with MUSO has helped educate me. So I'll pass this on to you because you need to know these things.
About a file I had found that MUSO didn't list on my Dashboard, James explained:
"The link you enter in the 'File URL' field on the Add Files tool needs to be the page where the file can be directly downloaded."
You find this out by clicking to download and see if it opens the Download window.
James went on to explain: "So if the page you're entering doesn't let you directly download your product, but links to another site for the download, then this page is what we call the 'Source URL'. This distinction is important because we send the DMCA takedown notice to the site that is hosting your content, and not to sites that simply link to this content."
Aha! The file in question was hosted at Furk dot net which apparently is a common Source. Furk is called a cyberlocker.
Cyberlockers and Torrent Downloads
MUSO does takedowns at cyberlockers and, just recently, added takedowns of Torrent Downloads to their arsenal.
James explained cyberlocker. "A cyberlocker site can be defined as any site which allows you to download the content for free, without having to register or pay for an account. Almost all cyberlockers allow a free 'slower' download, and then you can optionally register and pay for the 'premium' faster download speeds.
If you follow the download links on the website, it asks you to register, and then asks you to pay before you can download the content. In most cases these sites are spoofs and don't even have the content they offer, and because cyberlockers offer free downloads they are far more popular."
I guess it's cold comfort that customers of this website who are paying for downloads probably end up with nothing. Serves them right. However, the website is still making money if only by duping these customers.
Readers, if you want to read good books, the popular books everyone is talking about, be willing to purchase them from legitimate booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, XinXii, and any of the other "real" booksellers on the Internet.
Until there are sanctions against those who violate the DMCA, and those who host the websites of those violators, little will change. Do the best you can to protect your intellectual property either by sending Takedown Notices yourself or retaining someone to act as your agent.
Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords, or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.