I was catching some reviews of my book online the other day, when I came across something that made the blood drain out of my face:
My book had been pirated.
I knew about the sites where people ripped kindle versions of people’s work and literally stole it from them, but for some reason I never suspected my book would make it onto one of them. Maybe I just figured it was something that happened to other people, like with everything else in life. But no. There is was. Sovereign Hope, for free, uploaded by someone who cared little for how much time and effort I spent in creating it.
I immediately went into ‘I-am-losing-my-freaking-mind’ mode and started in with the screaming and shouting. I sent an incredibly angry email to the website concerned, ranting and using extremely colourful language to let them know how unacceptable it was that my book was on their site. They replied very quickly and took it down, however it was then I noticed that the site was unfortunately not the only one.
Cue meltdown mode.
What made me angriest was the fact that, when going onto these sites, I noted my friends on facebook had visited and liked them. This led me to believe they were downloading other author’s work for free, and kicked my pique of rage up from an already temple throbbing 8 to a full blown 10.
How could they do that? These were people, regular posters and bloggers, claiming to love the writing community, who said they had my back. I stomped around my house, spitting teeth as my nana would say.
It was at least an hour later when I caught this sinking, icky feeling creeping into the peripherals of my mood. My moral outrage was rankled by its presence. Why the hell should I be feeling…what was that? Guilty? Guilty?!
I stoked the fire on my bad mood, re-reading my rant on facebook about how disappointed I was, and for a little while that yucky sensation went away. Not for long, though. Eventually I couldn’t ignore it any more. I sat down and allowed the feeing to develop, finally giving that seriously annoying dude that lives in the back of everyone’s mind (I think most people refer to him as Conscience. I call him Mr. Smug) voice.
“You’re a hypocrite,” he told me.
“What the hell, man? You’re supposed to be on my side!”
My conscience shook his head. “Nuh-uh. Remember all those times you accepted music from other people, knowing they’d downloaded it? That’s exactly the same thing as this.”
“No, it’s not!”
“How isn’t it the same?”
“Because those artists are huge, successful names. They make a fortune off their album sales.”
Mr. Smug gives me ‘the look’. “You really believe that?”
“So it’s okay to steal from someone else when they’re successful, but not when they haven’t hit the big time?”
“Well, not when you put it like that! You’re making it sound bad.”
“It is bad. This is karma kicking your ass, so quit whining.”
That totally did shut me up. Despite how loathe I was to admit it, Mr. Smug was right. I had no right to be ranting online. I had been guilty of a crime I was kicking up a fuss about, and now I was observing the affects of piracy from the other side of the fence.
And it sucked.
I had no idea where this concept had come from- that the success of the artist was directly related to whether it was okay to take their work. It was a warped justification that seemed to make sense at the time. Hadn’t the artists worked as hard as I did to create and perfect their art? Probably. All right, of course they had. So was it okay? The answer was a resounding no.
I then went on a mad spending spree, buying lots of albums on itunes, that was again another feature in my warped sense of justification. Must give back to the music industry. Must give back to the music industry… My husband went nuts.
Since then I’ve calmed down on the spending front, but I have gone back and bought all the albums I allowed other people to give me. It was only right, and I didn’t want to be a pirate anymore. Well, I occasionally want to be a pirate, but for other reasons. Cap’n Jack Sparrow and I are tight. But anyway, days like yesterday, which was International Talk Like A Pirate day, should be enough to temper my marauding ways. From here on out, I will be on the straight and narrow where copyright is concerned.
As for finding my work on those sites… I’ve become Zen about the whole thing. If I didn’t, I would have been skipping merrily into the open arms of a nervous breakdown, and frankly I have plans for the rest of the year that don’t involve straight jackets. That doesn’t mean I won’t be requesting my work is taken down from these sites whenever it springs up, but I’ve acknowledged that it will happen. Again and again, in fact. I just know I will not be part of the cycle anymore.
Have you found your work online and had to have it removed? What are the prime sites for book thieves to upload novels for free?