Posts in category piracy

Let’s talk master resale rights & ebooks… *REPOST*

Yes…you’ve seen this before. I plan on posting once a month, perhaps. Or at least until asinine sites like ebay & ioffer stop letting people abuse copyright owners’ rights. BTW, this stuff also applies to writers who aren’t me. For modern works, after 1978 and somebody is claiming to have ‘master resale rights’ or ”I’m the copyright owner” or any crap like that over a work…it’s very likely FALSE. Copyright remains in place for the author’s lifetime, plus 70 years. Info on that can be found at copyright.gov – a nice government-y website so don’t be fooled by the BS

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Okay, I’m hoping some people out there researching ‘master resell rights’ stumble onto this page. Or I hope some of the people mistakenly claiming to be ‘authorized ebook resellers’ find this page.

Because I’ve got news for you.

You can’t buy the resale rights to my work…unless you go through me, and I can’t sell them to you, because it would be conflict with my contract to my publisher. Which could get me sued. Which is why I’m pretty certain other authors out there aren’t likely to be doing this either.

You can resell a paperback, because after all, there is just the one copy.

But you can’t resell ebook after ebook after ebook because that’s not selling one copy-that’s making new copies and you know what that does? That violates my copyright. I own the rights to my work. Me. Just me.

I contract with my publisher and they publish the books. Through my publisher, I may sell the foreign rights (and please, dear God, I’d really love to), I can sell the audio rights (please God, I would love to) and other assorted rights. I own the rights. They are mine. You can’t buy a ‘master resale right’ to anything I’ve written, because I won’t give it up.

If somebody claims they can give you master resale rights, you were lied to. Possibly by mistake, possibly with the intention of deceiving you, I don’t know. Email the publisher if you don’t believe me-ask the person claiming the ‘resale rights’ bit who their contact at the publisher was. But don’t shell out money to somebody who claim to give you master resale rights to ebooks.

Now this isn’t to say there aren’t books out there with ‘master resale rights’. I see all this ’set up your own ebook biz’ and all the ebooks are self-help and do-it-yourself, and maybe, just maybe, those do come with legit resale rights.

But if you think Nora Roberts sold her resale rights to somebody who in turn now sells them out to others so they can sell a slew of them on ebay for a few bucks when the author doesn’t see a red cent for all her hard work, you’re wrong-somehow, I suspect Nora Roberts is a little too smart for that. She doesn’t do it. Neither does Shiloh Walker, neither does Larissa Ione, neither does Lauren Dane, neither does any fricking writer I’ve talked to about this…and yeah, writers do talk about it. A lot.

Publishing doesn’t work that way.

Ebook publishing doesn’t work that way.

This is about rights. Plain and simple rights. When people ‘create’ digital copies of our work, they are making new copies-that is copyright infringement-and that violates our rights. Plain and simple. It violates our rights and if somebody came in and rode roughshod all over your legal rights, you’d be bit upset. You do not have the legal rights to resell our works, no matter what you were told.

And if anybody who was told this is reading this…seriously, completely seriously, I want to know who is telling you. You were misinformed. A lot of people have been misinformed and that circle won’t stop until we get to the root of it all.

Feel free to email me. Shilohwalker(at)gmail.com. Of course, if you’re emailing me just to tell me how I mean I am for wanting people to respect my fricking rights…don’t waste your time. I’m really handy with that delete button and I don’t waste my time arguing with people who can’t understand that I’m entitled to have my rights respected, the same way others want their rights respected.

BTW, if other authors reading this wanna do the same & spread the word…well, the more readers who are aware, maybe the fewer sales those bastards will get. Some people are thinking-you’re telling them where these are! But plenty of people already know. And it won’t get better until more people speak up and take action.

Plus, readers can also help if they want. On ioffer, if you see a modern author, be it romance authors you already read or people like Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, whoever, there’s a report item button down at the buttom-click it-report that you believe the item is still protected by copyright and you’ll be notifying the author. Hell, leave notes on the buying page by ‘asking a question’ if you want telling the would be buyers they are buying stolen property and you can refer them to this page at the FBI- http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/ipr/anti-piracy. iOffer got nasty with me a few times and tried to close my account when I did such things. I pointed out that they can’t allow people to buy and sell stolen goods and then try to shut down my account when I inform them people are buying & selling stolen goods, which is what copyrighted material is. They opened my account back up very, very fast.

With ebay, you can also report items suspected of abuse. It’s more work, requires an ebay account and it works best if you can get the seller to send you the list of books. But if you’re not an author, this is actually awesome. Then you can get the list of items, report them and if I’m one of the authors… SEND IT TO ME! *G* Be my spy! (Yes, I’m bad.) If you click on report item, it will give you a bunch of drop down menus…you want:

Counterfeits and copyright violations (after that, if the listing showed it as being on a CD-probably did, ebay policy now makes it a violation to email stuff) click on:

Bootlegs and counterfeit media… then from there:

Media on Recordable formats (CD-R, DVD-R, VHS Tape, etc.)

Once you get there, mention something like…
Message: Claiming modern works in public domain-the list of books I saw were all copyrighted.

Please note, this DOESN’T apply to classical works. Only to works put into print after 1978. Tom Sawyer is public domain. Bronte is public domain. But those aren’t the books the majority of these people are selling.

And I will warn you, although most of the time the sellers just slink off once the auctions are shut down, some of them do get testy. I’m mean for not wanting them to make money…*even though they do it by stealing from me, making it harder for me to earn my rightful living*, I’m taking food from their kids, even though they are doing it in a dishonest, dishonorable fashion, not to mention the example they are setting…so if readers decide to do this, be aware, somebody might get nasty in response. Ebay also has gotten irritated with me. Imagine, expecting them to take action when people are selling illegal goods on their site.

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Ways to be a pain for pirates

courtesy of Mandy M Roth

If you’ve seen my posts about places like iOffer, then you know I firmly believe authors can make a difference if they’ll stay on top and keep fighting with piracy.  Is it easy?  Nope.  Is it fun?  Nope.  Are the results immediate?  Nope.

But ignoring it doesn’t make it go away either.  Leaving it in the hands of the publishers doesn’t do it.  Publishers have their entire houses to watch for and small legal staffs.  We’ve only got to watch for our own works.

A properly worded DMCA, for MOST websites, will get your works removed.  Not sure how to word it?  Check out this guy’s site.

Don’t do anything extra-don’t get pissed, don’t get crazed, it won’t do any good.  Just state the facts.  I routinely check for pirated stuff and slowly, I’m seeing my stuff less. I know it’s still out there-pirates will always find a way to get something for nothing.

FYI, for the pirates who are reading this and getting all high and mighty with their excuses… well, if it wasn’t for DRM, territory restrictions, blah blah blah… educate yourselves.  Most of the works of MINE that you pirate-no DRM.  No territory restrictions.  Those that do have territory restrictions, this isn’t anything *I* have control over, and often the publishers don’t-it’s controlled by deals struck with the publishers within your country.  Yep.  However, the majority of my works that get pirated have no restrictions.  None.  You can buy, legally, across the globe.  You choose not to.  You choose to steal.

There are always going to be those who think they are entitled to get something for nothing, those who think they are entitled to take what others have worked hard to create. The only thing we can do is either ignore it, or fight to protect our rights. I refuse to ignore it.

Something else I’ve started doing?  As of February, I report all copyright violations to the IC3.

If it’s on iOffer, I take screen shots of the auctions, I take note of the seller’s names, and I report both iOffer and the seller. Not familiar with what the IC3 is? Per the website:

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

I also do this for copyright violations on filesharing sites.  As not all pirates are located with the US, I also report to several agencies outside the US, especially if I know the site is based in a certain country.

Another thing I do with filesharing sites, especially the problematic ones that don’t remove promptly-I do a whois lookup.  Go to this site http://whois.domaintools.com/ and enter the website of the site pirating the works.  Find out who their server is.  Try CCing your DMCA takedown to them and advising something like… “please be advised this site is violating your TOS by violating third party rights-namely my copyright and they refuse to remove the works in a timely manner.  As they are not abiding by your TOS.” (FYI, find the TOS of their site and copy it into the email.)

Is this time consuming?  Oh, yes.  But when more authors start fighting back, things will get better for all of us.  Complain to the IC3-let them know which sites they need to focus on next. Send in your DMCA takedowns-sites are only protected from lawsuits if they take prompt action.  Does it seem overwhelming now?  Probably.  But right now ebooks are really taking off.  Imagine how bad it’s going to get if you ignore it now…and things really explode in five years.  If more authors speak up now, the more we fight for our rights now, the better it will be for us in the future.

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How to be a real pain…#ioffer and copyright

courtesy of Mandy M Roth

Are you an author who keeps having people steal from you with ioffer?  FYI, there’s no denying pirates piss me off.

Ioffer and the pirates there?  More than.

**Please note, this all pertains to ebooks. Not print. Reselling used books is perfectly legal and I’ve got no problem with it. Now then.

About the mess…

Authors have a few options with this mess.

  1. Ignore it (not an option for me-not only do they violate copyright, they make money from my hardwork and they are stealing.  Nope.  Not ignoring)
  2. Have the publishers handle it.  Yes, this works.  But it takes them a week or more.  Publishers have their entire house to watch for and small legal staffs.  Which means?  Your stuff waits it’s turn in line.
  3. You can pay somebody-I actually know somebody who handles these.  You can authorize somebody to do the takedowns.  Don’t have an assistant and want to do it that way?  Email me.  I’ll give you her name.
  4. You do it.

Options three and four are the fastest.  Option one-basically sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to help the problem and until more authors stand up and fight it, the problem isn’t going to improve.  Option two works, no denying it. But look at it logically.  The publishers only have so many people in the legal department.  And they’ve also got other things to do besides piracy and ioffer messes.

Options three and four are the ones that have the most effect and if you’re diligent, eventually word gets around.  Especially if you stay on ioffer with the takedowns and remind them that they are only protected by the safe harbor laws of the DMCA if they take action against those who repeat offend.  What does this mean?  If there is a seller who is repeatedly listing your stuff even after you’ve sent in the takedowns and ioffer isn’t doing anything?

Well, I’m no lawyer.  But I would think if they aren’t taking action…think about it.  So remind them that you’ve complained on such and such seller before…and see if you don’t see that seller’s store disappear within a day or so.  All of the listings. I’ve watched it happen dozens of times.

Now, I suspect they show back up under another name.  But if they relist your stuff?  Complain again.  Remind Ioffer again.  Sooner or later, the sellers get tired of having their auctions yanked and you don’t see your stuff as often.

And if you really want to be a pain…

When you send the takedown?  Also CC…CC, not BCC to <netpiracy@siia.net>, the SIIA deals with piracy issues.  Give them more ammo.

I also make notes on the sellers’ pages.  Once, Ioffer closed my account.  I emailed them and told them that if they allowed people to illegally sell my books, then I had a right to point out to potential buyers they were buying stolen property and if they didn’t want me getting rather public with it, they might want to reopen the account.  They did.  These little notes on the seller’s pages?  Don’t get ugly…remember, a lot of readers still don’t get how the ebook thing, piracy and all that jazz works.  They may not realize they are buying stolen goods and the ugliness won’t benefit you.

I say something like… Be advised, this is copyright infringement and illegal.  See the FBI’s warning.  Then I leave a link to this page. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/ipr/anti-piracy

Lessons in being an advanced thorn in the side

Well, you can always report them to the IC3, Internet Crime Complaint Center.  From their site:

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

As of 2/11/2012, I started taking screenshots of all people who list auctions in violation of my copyright on ioffer.  After I send the takedown to Ioffer, I send a complaint to the IC3.  Ioffer is also aware I’m doing this-I told them.  Pointblank, I told them in an email- “You can find a way to keep illegal goods from your site.”

Ebay keeps illegal crap off their site.  (Not ebooks, or rather, not as good as they should, but it’s possible.)  It requires effort on their part, and sure, it will cost them money.  But that’s their problem.  Until they take a more active role in policing their site to keep the illegal goods off of it, I’m reporting them to the IC3.

Maybe if enough fed up authors (as well other intellectual property owners) started regularly filing complaints with the IC3, and making ioffer aware… they’d get their act together.

For Beginners…

Not sure how to get your illegally sold ebooks off ioffer?  (FYI, the ebooks sold on ioffer, unless they are in public domain, are most likely illegal, and if you just wrote it?  Not in public domain).

Here’s what you do…send a takedown notice to copyright@ioffer.com.  This has to come from either the publisher, the author, or someone the author has designated to act on their behalf (agents, assistants, etc).

What needs to be in the takedown?  From IP Watchdog**, post dated 1/6/09 :

  1. A physical or electronic signature (i.e., /s/NAME) of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright that is allegedly infringed.
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed.
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner.
  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright that is allegedly infringed.

So, what needs to be there… who you are, what the works are, a link to the works are found, a way to contact you-I provide my PO Box and the phone number of my publishers-not giving those guys my number. And then the last statement is VERY important. I include my name with the words ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE next to it, then my name and contact details.

I send it to ioffer, CC it to netpiracy, then notify the IC3, and I make a screenshot of the auction and save it in a file labeled ioffer. Generally, ioffer has them down within a few hours, a bit longer on the weekends.

Do the numbers on ioffer seem insurmountable? Well, at first, probably. But if you can stay on top of it, word will get around. Especially if you let the sellers know you are reporting them to the IC3… I make sure to mention the connection to the FBI.

If you stay on top of it for a while, those numbers no longer seem so insurmountable. Sellers try to find ways around it, misspelling your name, mis-LISTING the names, etc-they continue to find ways, I continue to look…and when I find them, I report them, not just to ioffer.

In case anybody reading this is a seller? It’s not an idle threat on my side. I report. Happily. And with great pleasure. I even forward the confirmation of each successfully submitted complaint to ioffer to let them know about each auction that I’ve submitted. Sellers might want to consider…if the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that deal with copyright decide to investigate ioffer? Why wouldn’t they look to the sellers as well?

heads up… I’m not a lawyer, not a copyright specialist or anything. Just a writer who’s tired of dealing with this crap. IMO, ioffer is one of the worst and I’ve got two years worth of emails/takedowns. It’s gotten better over the past few months, finally, but I suspect that’s not on because of anything ioffer has done. This is all just my opinion, make of it what you will, but if you are tired of it and want to see a difference, as an author, you’re the one with the most power of bringing it about. Ioffer is required by law to remove the infringing works. If you send the proper DMCA, they have to remove the works-if the seller relists, remind ioffer about the safe harbor laws of the DMCA and see what happens. And keep on it…you just may see the difference.

**Re IP Watchdog…he’s a very informative and helpful guy. If you use any of his info outside of a DMCA…like a blog…please credit him…thank you!

m4s0n501
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Lets talk Master Resale Rights… (repost)

Yes…you’ve seen this before. I plan on posting once a month, perhaps. Or at least until asinine sites like ebay & ioffer stop letting people abuse copyright owners’ rights. BTW, this stuff also applies to writers who aren’t me. For modern works, after 1978 and somebody is claiming to have ‘master resale rights’ or ”I’m the copyright owner” or any crap like that over a work…it’s very likely FALSE. Copyright remains in place for the author’s lifetime, plus 70 years. Info on that can be found at copyright.gov – a nice government-y website so don’t be fooled by the BS.

Okay, I’m hoping some people out there researching ‘master resell rights’ stumble onto this page. Or I hope some of the people mistakenly claiming to be ‘authorized ebook resellers’ find this page.

Because I’ve got news for you.

You can’t buy the resale rights to my work…unless you go through me, and I can’t sell them to you, because it would be conflict with my contract to my publisher. Which could get me sued. Which is why I’m pretty certain other authors out there aren’t likely to be doing this either.

You can resell a paperback, because after all, there is just the one copy.

But you can’t resell ebook after ebook after ebook because that’s not selling one copy-that’s making new copies and you know what that does? That violates my copyright. I own the rights to my work. Me. Just me.

I contract with my publisher and they publish the books. Through my publisher, I may sell the foreign rights (and please, dear God, I’d really love to), I can sell the audio rights (please God, I would love to) and other assorted rights. I own the rights. They are mine. You can’t buy a ‘master resale right’ to anything I’ve written, because I won’t give it up.

If somebody claims they can give you master resale rights, you were lied to. Possibly by mistake, possibly with the intention of deceiving you, I don’t know. Email the publisher if you don’t believe me-ask the person claiming the ‘resale rights’ bit who their contact at the publisher was. But don’t shell out money to somebody who claim to give you master resale rights to ebooks.

Now this isn’t to say there aren’t books out there with ‘master resale rights’. I see all this ’set up your own ebook biz’ and all the ebooks are self-help and do-it-yourself, and maybe, just maybe, those do come with legit resale rights.

But if you think Nora Roberts sold her resale rights to somebody who in turn now sells them out to others so they can sell a slew of them on ebay for a few bucks when the author doesn’t see a red cent for all her hard work, you’re wrong-somehow, I suspect Nora Roberts is a little too smart for that. She doesn’t do it. Neither does Shiloh Walker, neither does Larissa Ione, neither does Lauren Dane, neither does any fricking writer I’ve talked to about this…and yeah, writers do talk about it. A lot.

Publishing doesn’t work that way.

Ebook publishing doesn’t work that way.

This is about rights. Plain and simple rights. When people ‘create’ digital copies of our work, they are making new copies-that is copyright infringement-and that violates our rights. Plain and simple. It violates our rights and if somebody came in and rode roughshod all over your legal rights, you’d be bit upset. You do not have the legal rights to resell our works, no matter what you were told.

And if anybody who was told this is reading this…seriously, completely seriously, I want to know who is telling you. You were misinformed. A lot of people have been misinformed and that circle won’t stop until we get to the root of it all.

Feel free to email me. Shilohwalker(at)gmail.com. Of course, if you’re emailing me just to tell me how I mean I am for wanting people to respect my fricking rights…don’t waste your time. I’m really handy with that delete button and I don’t waste my time arguing with people who can’t understand that I’m entitled to have my rights respected, the same way others want their rights respected.

BTW, if other authors reading this wanna do the same & spread the word…well, the more readers who are aware, maybe the fewer sales those bastards will get.  Some people are thinking-you’re telling them where these are! But plenty of people already know.  And it won’t get better until more people speak up and take action.

Plus, readers can also help if they want.  On ioffer, if you see a modern author, be it romance authors you already read or people like Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, whoever, there’s a report item button down at the buttom-click it-report that you believe the item is still protected by copyright and you’ll be notifying the author.  Hell, leave notes on the buying page by ‘asking a question’ if you want telling the would be buyers they are buying stolen property and you can refer them to this page at the FBI- http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/ipr/anti-piracy.  iOffer got nasty with me a few times and tried to close my account when I did such things.  I pointed out that they can’t allow people to buy and sell stolen goods and then try to shut down my account when I inform them people are buying & selling stolen goods, which is what copyrighted material is.  They opened my account back up very, very fast.

With ebay, you can also report items suspected of abuse.  It’s more work, requires an ebay account and it works best if you can get the seller to send you the list of books. But if you’re not an author, this is actually awesome. Then you can get the list of items, report them and if I’m one of the authors… SEND IT TO ME! *G* Be my spy! (Yes, I’m bad.) If you click on report item, it will give you a bunch of drop down menus…you want:

Counterfeits and copyright violations (after that, if the listing showed it as being on a CD-probably did, ebay policy now makes it a violation to email stuff) click on:

Bootlegs and counterfeit media… then from there:

Media on Recordable formats (CD-R, DVD-R, VHS Tape, etc.)

Once you get there, mention something like…
Message: Claiming modern works in public domain-the list of books I saw were all copyrighted.

Please note, this DOESN’T apply to classical works. Only to works put into print after 1978.  Tom Sawyer is public domain. Bronte is public domain. But those aren’t the books the majority of these people are selling.

And I will warn you, although most of the time the sellers just slink off once the auctions are shut down, some of them do get testy.  I’m mean for not wanting them to make money…*even though they do it by stealing from me, making it harder for me to earn my rightful living*, I’m taking food from their kids, even though they are doing it in a dishonest, dishonorable fashion, not to mention the example they are setting…so if readers decide to do this, be aware, somebody might get nasty in response.  Ebay also has gotten irritated with me.  Imagine, expecting them to take action when people are selling illegal goods on their site.

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Writers… Speak out. On copyrights, YOUR rights, and protecting your job

On 10.5.2010, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force issued a notice of inquiry, looking for input from people with a vested interest in copyright law, internet economy, etc.

Are you a writer?  Aspire to be one?  A photographer?  An artist?  Guess what… you have a vested interest in protecting copyright.  Now I do think copyright laws need to be updated.  But I also think copyight needs to be protected.

There are some who think copyright needs to be done away with-and before you think whatever-there’s a legit, formed party in Europe that advocates to make piracy legal.  All it will take for more of that bullshit to happen is for people like us to say or do nothing.

The run down from the task force was here and they are asking those vested individuals to send a letter to copyright-noi-2010@ntia.doc.gov.

We make valuable contributions to society… we work.  We provide something.  We are entitled to earn a living through this, and we are entitled to have those works protected.  Don’t let those who would freely give and take and steal be the only speaking up-and you can bet they are speaking up, people.

Want to see our rights to protect our work disappear?  Do nothing.  That’s all it takes.  Want to protect your copyright and make sure we continue to have laws in place to protect that copyright?

Then you need to speak up.

Not speaking up means you run the risk of losing that protection.  We lose that protection?  We could become like Spain, where sales of local musicians… artists like us, have dropped more than 65% in the past five years, per the article in the BBC.  Spain has no laws to protect the download of illegal music.  How can we do our job if our government won’t protect us?  Speak out.  Make sure they know we need that protection.

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Control… just what control do I have…

So it’s been a while since I’ve talked about piracy.  Yes, it’s still a major problem.  I spent six hours this weekend working takedown notices.  Six hours.  FYI, that is six hours that could have been spent either finishing the next Grimm book, finishing my romantic suspense, or getting closer to done on two of the contemporaries I’m working on.  But because I had to deal with piracy crap, well, those six hours were spent on piracy issues.  Not writing.  Time I spend dealing with piracy is time I spend not writing, which means… less time spent working on books… for readers.

Something that a few readers have mentioned-they wished they could do  more to help and it’s dawned on me… you know what?  You can.  This isn’t just an author/publisher problem.  It’s one that can/will/does affect you.

As piracy and online digital theft is becoming more and more of an issue, governments are starting to focus on the problem.  Readers outnumber authors, and the legit readers also outnumber the pirates.  This is good-because there is actually a ‘political party’ over in Europe that wants to run for office and make ‘pirating legal’.  You know how you can help authors and other creators out?  Speak out.  Talk to your reps and make your voices heard.  Make them aware of the fact that we need to make sure copyright laws are strong, that creators need the support of their government.

For the US readers who hit my blog, I can even make it very easy for you:

https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

This is a quick way to find your state reps & senators.  Send them an email.  Urge them to continue to support and protect the copyright protection of creative works.   That protection is what keeps us writing. If we lose that, you might well find out that some of us, possibly many of us, maybe even the majority of us will stop providing those creative works.   That protection is what allows us to earn a living from our creative works.  We need it.  Take it away, then why should we continue to do it?

If you don’t live in the US, we still need your help.  Can you contact your representatives?  Email them?  Ask them to support copyright protection in your country?

Those of you who do support us and understand our right to earn a living, those who don’t steal from us, you have no idea how much you’re appreciated.  Thank you. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now.  About control.  What control do I have?  Can I control how pirates think?  No.

Can I control the excuses they use to rationalize their actions?  No.  Although many of those rationalizations just make me laugh when they don’t depress the hell out of me.  I’m particularly fond of the ones like… “Writers are rich-it’s not like it hurts them.”

Rich.  Oh, if only.  Although, ya know what…the writers who are rich?  They busted their butts to get that way-they earned it.  But I need to introduce some reality into this little tale.  I’m not rich.  I can count on one hand how many writers I’ve actually met who could be called rich.  And I’ve met a lot of writers.  A select few are rich.  Some are pretty well off.   Others, though?  The majority of them still work day jobs in addition to writing.  They still work day jobs because they can’t live on what they make from their writing income.  Period.  So the pirates who think they aren’t hurting writers through their thefts?  Big. Fat. Wrong.

I’m actually lucky that I can write as my job and the only reason I can do so is because of my husband-he’s got a decent, steady job with decent insurance.  If something happens there?  I go back to work-we’ve got three kids and I’ve got health issues that require decent insurance.

Let me shed some more reality-our home is 1500 square feet.   It’s not huge.  It’s a nice home.  But’s it’s not big.  We don’t have enough room.   Three bedrooms.  Single level dwelling.  My two daughters share a bedroom.  My office is the dining room.  Our two cars are in the driveway because we have to use the two car garage for storage-no room in our house.  Both of our cars were bought used and have over 100,000 miles on them now.  Mine is over 5 years old.  My husband’s is close to ten years old.  My kids go to public schools, not private.  The majority of our clothes come from Old Navy or Target, and on occasion, Walmart and sometimes, I’ll hit Kohls when there are good sales.  Yes… I’m really living the high life.  We’re still paying on our home, we have the same bills anybody else has.

Again…we’re not rich.

My story isn’t unusual for writers, and I actually probably do a little better than some-again, a lot of that is because of my husband’s job and his insurance.  Because of him, I don’t have to pay $500 or so out of pocket a month for insurance, why is about what it would cost me.

Here’s another shocker-since writers are self-employed, a nasty chunk of our income goes to Uncle Sam.  Taxes aren’t already deducted, so we have to turn around and pay that.   Ever been self-employed? You know that tax refund a lot of Americans look forward to come April?  Not the typical writer-you see, being self-employed generally means we’ll end up owing.  And it doesn’t have jack to do with making a lot of money.  It’s that self-employment thing.

We’re not rich.  Stop deluding yourself with that little fantasy.

Then there’s the ‘writing is fun so why should they make us pay?’ fantasy. Well, aside from the stuff I listed up above… ya know, things like taxes and crap-I mean how in the world can we pay that if we’re not getting paid?  And not paying your taxes leads to things like, oh…say… jail.

But seriously.  You think ‘writing is fun’ and that means ‘they shouldn’t get paid’.  Seriously?  Are these mature adults thinking this crap up?   No… writing is a job and for me, it’s more stressful than the job I used to have-but there are people out there who think I should do it for nothing?  Choke.  Um.  No.  Not going to happen.

Like most jobs, it has it’s moments.  But I spent generally about 10 or so hours a day working-not just writing, because writing is actually only half of my job.  And even that isn’t what I can call fun.  Yes, I’m driven to do it-but an alcoholic is driven to drink.  Doesn’t mean it’s fun for the alcoholic.

The sad thing is, even when I’m not working?  I am.  Writing is a job that we never turn off.  Even when we’re out with our families, trying to focus on them, the stories are crowding our head and pushing in, trying to intrude and take over and we have to try and block them out.  Writing isn’t like a faucet you turn off and on.  It’s just there.  It’s not like the nursing job I had, where I could leave it at the office, either.  It’s always on.  Can you imagine how mentally exhausting that gets?

So again… that writing is fun justification…it’s just another delusion.  It’s a job, and it’s a damn hard one.

Back to control… there are some pirates out there who think they are part of some big ‘revolution’ where they will force ‘content to be free’ as part of a big political change.  A little tangential side note-the content isn’t free for me to provide.  I spend money doing it.  Guess what-it shouldn’t cost me money if I can’t get paid.

We also have a whole hell of a lot of freeloaders in our society.  Writers/creators actively contribute-we provide a service, we work, we aren’t asking for a handout.  We’re doing a job.  We’re earning a living.  This is how we earn a living.  Surely even pirates understand that to earn a living you must be paid, correct?  Surely even pirates understand that in order to make it in society, one must be able to pay for things like food, your home, food, and if you have kids, you need to be able to provide for them.  (unless of course these pirates are going to produce some marvelous system where creators are provided for by society….)

How is a writer to earn a living if they aren’t paid?  Do you want to add to the burden of society and take away our paying jobs?

So back to this ‘so-called revolution’.  This idea that they can force content to be free-again, content that isn’t free for us to provide to begin with.   I disagree that you’ll be able to force this revolution.

Wanna know why? The majority of governments, the majority of people understand the value of creative works.  Even the pirates seem to get that there is value.  If there wasn’t any value, they wouldn’t want the creative works.  They just feel entitled to take whatever they want.

Governments, the majority of people do understand that the creators need to have the right to protect their work-that protection is what lets them earn a living, what enables them to NOT BE A BURDEN ON SOCIETY…because they have a job, ya know?

You take that protection away?  Well, here’s a question for the pirates….

If we can’t protect our works, why should we give it to you?

I tell you now…a lot of us will stop.   And you can’t make us continue-that is out of your control.  We decide if we’re going to provide it.  That is what we control.

Would you like read an disturbing statistic?  From BBC News, in regards to the music industry in Spain, a country that has no laws preventing illegal downloads-nothing to help those creators protect their work:

The sales of albums by local artists there have fallen by 65% in five years.

Sixty five percent.

Another quote from that article:

“Spain runs the risk of turning into a cultural desert,” commented Rob Wells, Senior Vice President, Digital, at Universal Music Group.

A cultural wasteland.  That sounds pretty disturbing.  Sixty-five percent.

You want to push for laws to strip away copyright protection-well, like I said, I don’t see it happening.  All the governments need to do is look at a country like Spain and see what happens when there is little to no protection given to creative users.   Why should any artist pursue a big career in Spain when they realize their own government isn’t going to back them?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.

I’m a realist.  As much as the stories in my head drive me, I’ve got kids who need to be fed, clothed, cared for and I’ll put their needs above all, before all, and if you take away the laws that enable me to earn a living-therefore making it possible to provide for them?

You can’t force me to write.  You can’t force any writer to write.  Take away the protection that enables us to earn a living from the books we provide?  You might not like what happens down the road.  You could find yourself in a reader’s wasteland.  Yes, there will be those who write to be read…but not all of them will be books from professional writers.

Before you roll your eyes and think, yeah, right… ask yourself, imagine, just imagine, you’re one of those local musicians in Spain, and your income has dropped 65% over the past five years.  Do you really, honestly see yourself still doing that job or are you looking to alternatives?  Me?  I’d be looking to alternatives, and thank God, I’ve got a steady reliable career to fall back on–quite a few writers do.  Most of us didn’t come into this biz fresh out of high school.

If you wouldn’t continue to work at a job where your income was cut by more than half, why would you expect anybody else to?  If you can’t see yourself doing it,  don’t expect anybody else to do it, either.  Don’t make the assumption that writers, artists, whatever will stick it out in the ‘hopes of being read’ or ‘they have to do this because they need to heard/read/whatever’.

Because that only defines some artists, only defines some writers.  Some are in it for the glory.

Many of us are in it because it’s our job.  Those of us who are in it because it’s our job?  You take the job part away?  The part where we’re able to benefit?  That part goes hand in hand with copyright protection? Take it away and you’ll be surprised, because you will end up losing out, too, when you realize many of us are done.

In the end… I don’t write to be read… I write because it’s my job… I choose to put the books out there.  That is what I control.  I’ve got another career I can turn to, and it’s one I’ve kept up with-I can go back to nursing.  There is a reason I kept my license active, a reason I still help out at my old day job.  It’s so I can return to it, should I ever need it.  Take away the laws that protect my work?  I’ll pick up that stethoscope again real fast.

That, right there, is the control I do have.  You can’t force me to write.  You can’t force any writer to write.  If our right to protect our works is stripped away?  Well, in the end, one right we do still have?

The right to decide if we’re going to give you, give anybody another story.

This right here is why readers everywhere need to care about piracy and copyright protection.   Don’t let pirates be the ones who decide about some so-called digital revolution.  Since copyright protection and digital theft is a hot topic right now with a number of law makers, now is the ideal time for readers to make their voices heard.  Contact your representatives.  Speak up.  Make your voice heard.  Please.  Help us protect our work, help us protect the stories that we love to give you.

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