The first time you find your work stolen is a strange situation.
On the one hand, your pulse is racing. You think back to the hours of blood, sweat, tears and, well, coffee, you poured into a project in order to see it through to completion. The fact that someone else has stolen it, for whatever purpose, can drive you crazy.
On the other, it’s somewhat flattering. Think about the rock stars of the world. Is their work not pirated all the time? The fact that someone has stolen your work means they see something of value in what you have created.
The focus of this article isn’t on how to take action against your work being stolen. Instead, it aims to explore whether doing so is really worth it.
Why You Should Fight Back
Sometimes, you might feel as if you have no choice but to take action if you find your work has been stolen. This is especially true when –
- Someone is making money from your work
- A rival or competitor is using your work to their advantage
- Your work has been altered or changed in a way which isn’t acceptable to you
- Your work is being used for a purpose you never would agree with
Someone using your work to make money is one of the clearest situations that warrants a fightback. Every single cent that goes into someone else’s pocket because of your creation is rightfully yours. Choosing to ignore piracy in this situation isn’t only a bad idea, it’s actually financially irresponsible. You’ve probably invested a lot of time and money learning how to publish a book, and the rewards are rightfully yours.
Sometimes, it’s not about the money. Something you have created may be used by a competitor to give their service an advantage over yours. While not a direct financial loss, it still merits a response. Even the most creative of pursuits are ultimately competitive, so you cannot afford to give ground to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
The integrity of your work is another reason that you may wish to seek revenge against a pirate. Say, for example, you took the time to put together a beautiful, useful, nonfiction book. You find that the content of the book has been repurposed in an ugly and obnoxious manner which you never would have agreed with. In these situations, it’s not about money or status. Instead, it’s about protecting your artistic intention.
Finally, for many writers, the tipping point that causes them to take action is coming across their work being used for something nefarious, such as to get writers or readers to sign up for blackhat services, or even to disguise malware. In such a case, you would actually be preventing the harm of others by choosing to take action against pirates.
Why It Isn’t Worth It
So, it sounds like piracy is pretty serious and worthy of a response, right?
Well, not always.
Sometimes, you may decide that it isn’t worth taking action against pirates. This could be because –
- You can’t see any tangible harm from your work being shared, such as on a small community forum, for example
- The time and energy you would spend attempting to fix the copyright infringement outweighs the benefits of having it taken care of
- You see a diplomatic solution which you would prefer to pursue
You might reach the conclusion that the benefits of getting your name out there, and people gaining value from your work, outweigh the desire to protect your copyright. After all, authors are often keen to give away books in order to build their brand. In some cases, it’s possible to view copyright theft in this way.
Sometimes, the theft of your work may be on a very small scale. For example, you might find an extract of a book published on a blog without your permission.
In such situations, you may feel it is wise to reach out and try and be diplomatic. State that the blogger is welcome to keep the extract of your work, as long as they recognize you as the
author, and link back to the original work.
The Choice Is Yours
Don’t let anyone tell you there is ultimately a right or wrong way to handle the issue of copyright infringement.
The response you take will depend upon the specific details of the issue, the benefits and downsides to taking action, and your own personal moral stance on file sharing.
If you decide to take action, there are avenues to help prevent ebook piracy. Don’t feel powerless.
If you make the choice to let it go, that’s fine, too. After all, for something to be stolen, it needs to be worth stealing.
Your pirated work is a sign you’ve made it!