Posted on: 20 November, 2002

Author: Milana Leshinsky

Checking my e-mail one Sunday morning, I ... noticeda message. A chill went down my spine. The subject line ... e-book has been ... always knew ... like this could happen, b Checking my e-mail one Sunday morning, I immediately noticeda message. A chill went down my spine. The subject line said,"your e-book has been stolen".I always knew something like this could happen, but neverthought it would happen to me... and so soon! I have onlyreleased my e-book a few months ago, and already the"digital pirates" went to work.E-book theft is the biggest fear authors have, especially ifthey are working on their very first e-book, their "baby".Most new authors take months writing their e-books, and areworried that as soon as their e-book "hits" the Web, it willbe stolen, copied, illegally sold, or even given away.I. How exactly does an e-book get stolen?Sharing computer files between friends, family members andcolleagues is not a new concept. People have been doing itfor decades. But now that they can do it remotely, the numberof files shared (e-books and software) has greatly increased.This is not the authors' main concern, though.It's the people who get their hands on your e-book and makemoney reselling it to others in some shape or form. An e-bookmay be copied, re-written, extracted from, packaged withother e-books, and illegally sold on thieves' web sites.The worst case, though, is when a thief decides to really makea big chunk of money on your e-book and offers Resale Rightsto his customers. This simply means that anybody who buysyour e-book from him will also be "allowed" to resell it toothers.Now the Internet is literally flooded with your e-book, andyou begin to notice a huge drop in sales AND your income.Every author's worst nightmare.II. Why would anyone risk getting caught?While e-books are extremely easy to publish, they are just aseasy to steal. "Digital pirates" know it, and take this riskin exchange for making a few bucks (well, actually "my" thiefclaimed to have made over $10,000 selling my e-books. To thisday I don't know if this is accurate, but I am sure it turnedout quite profitable for him).Most people who steal other people's digital products have norespect or appreciation for hard work and talent it takes toproduce a quality product. "You put a few words together andnow charging $50 for it!", complained the thief in one of hismessages to me. (How ironic - I thought it was my place tocomplain!)An e-book is mostly prone to theft when 2 things are true:a) The topic is hot and in demand, so it will be easy tomake money selling it.b) If you sell Master Reprint Rights to your e-book, whichmakes it difficult to track who resells it legally and whohas not paid for the rights to sell it.(See more about Reprint Rights at: What steps to take when it happens to you?If you have just discovered that your e-book is being illegallysold on another web site, stop. Take a deep breath. Has youre-book been really stolen? Go through this list to rule eachsituation out:a) You sold Reprint Rights to this person and forgot about itb) This merchant simply sells a demo version of your e-bookc) This merchant has purchased Reprint Rights from one of yourauthorized reseller (who holds the Master Rights to your e-book)d) The e-book has a similar title and content, but is not YOURe-book.e) The seller may be not aware that he is infringing on yourrights, and is selling your e-book by mistake (this is only thecase if you offer Reprint Rights to your e-book)If you ruled every item on this list, it's time to take action.1) Find out the name of the person who is reselling your e-book.You can do this by doing a "Whois" search on Network Solutionsweb site ( The search will reveal to you thename of the person who registered the domain name for theillegal site, his e-mail address, mailing address, and a phonenumber. There is no guarantee that this information is 100%accurate, but it's worth a try.Your perpetrator's web site may also contain his name and e-mailaddress. Your first step is to send him a polite but firmmessage. Ask for an explanation, and wait 24 hours for his reply.If you do not get a response, or he refuses to remove your e-bookfrom his web site, move on to the next step.2) Find out the name of the hosting company, domain nameregistrar, and the Internet Service Provider (ISP). The hostingcompany may be listed under Technical Contact when you do the"Whois" search, or under "Domain Servers" at the bottom of thelisting. It may look something like this: NS181.PAIR.COM.Enter this address into your Internet browser location bar andyou will see that this site belongs to ISP may be located right in the person's e-mail address. Forexample, if the e-mail is [email protected], then the ISP If the web address is hosted by a free hostingcompany (e.g. then grab the phonenumber of their customer service or even a fraud department.Contact as many of these agencies as possible to inform them ofthe situation. Firmly ask them to suspend their services forthis client. Always be calm and polite in your first message.Charles Petit, an attorney and the webmaster of authorslawyer.comsays that "Some ISPs... claim that they will not take anyaction without seeing the certificate of copyright registration.Don't believe them. This is really just lawyerese for "we won'tresolve disputed copyrights." The United States Copyright Law(17 U.S.C. section 512) makes the ISP responsible once notifiedof the infringement in writing, and is signed "under penalty ofperjury." The copyright need not have been registered at all,mentions Mr.Petit. "It is required only for a lawsuit, andlate registration only limits the remedies available in court."Be sure to "immediately print the outgoing message and sign anddate the printout", mentions Mr.Petit. Mr. Petit's more-detaileddiscussion, including sample letters, is at Be sure to also contact the payment processor. Most thievesuse a third party processor such as PayPal or ClickBank. Contactthem immediately asking them to close their client's account.4) In most cases, by this time your problem will be solved.The hosting company will suspend their services, the paymentprocessor will stop processing payment, or the ISP will stopthe theif's Internet Service.If not, you may need an attorney who handles intellectualproperty disputes such as an e-book theft. It may take just aletter from him or her to resolve this situation.You may think, "I will let it go - it's only one person, howmuch harm can he possibly do?". One illegal reseller is mostlikely not going to hurt your business. But if you don't takemeasures to stop more than one thief, you may slowly noticea drop in sales, as the Internet becomes saturated with yourproduct.Do take basic measures outlined in the steps above. It won'ttake you more than a couple of hours, but will save yourbusiness cash flow in the long run.IV. How can you prevent e-book theft?Catching and pursuing your thieves is not easy andtime-consuming. Many e-book authors choose to prevent suchsituations before they even write their e-books. Here aresome ways that you can stop theft before it happens.1) Use an e-book compiler that makes your e-book 100%theft-proof. "E-book Pro" offers you such protection.With it you can remotely cut off access to anyone whostole, illegally redistributes, or otherwise losestheir right to your ebook. Developed by the InternetMarketing guru, Cory Rudl, this is the ONLY softwareon the market that offers such protection for your e-books.You can check it out at: Always hide the contents of a directory where your e-bookfile is located. There is not much you can do if yourcustomer decides to resell your e-book, but for those whoare looking for easy-to-steal files, be sure to place"index.html" in that directory. This will insure thatyour files are invisible to Internet users.3) Give your e-book a creative file name. I noticed thatat least once a day someone tries to "guess" my e-book filename by typing different ones in. Don't name your e-bookfile close to its title.4) Password protect your e-books, and change your passwordat least once a month. This can be easily done through yourhosting company control panel, or via a CGI script.5) Do a search on your e-book title (and your name) atleast once a month to see if anyone is selling your e-bookwithout your knowledge. When you start selling ReprintRights, be sure to save all the names of your resellers.This way you will always know whether this person isauthorized to resell your e-book.IV. How can you take advantage of e-book theft?Yes, you read it right. Some authors actually take advantageof their e-books being stolen, especially those writers whohave been in such situations before.Here is the thinking behind this concept. If a thief trulywants your e-book, he will find a way to get it. Even if itmeans typing it up manually!Instead of doing everything possible to stop the theft, authorstake it into consideration BEFORE writing their e-books. Hereis how you can do it, too.1) Promote yourself, other e-books, your services, yournewsletter, and your web sites throughout the e-book. If you'regiving examples, try to use your own web sites and your ownexperiences to illustrate.2) Always have at least one more product for sale as yourback-end product. Mention it throughout your e-book and linkto it where needed.3) Be sure to offer an incentive to your readers (whether theycome from you or your thieves) to subscribe to join your mailinglist. Give away a free report, a free e-book, a free newsletter,a free pen, etc. just to capture their e-mails. You will thenbe able to send them follow-up messages and special promotions.4) Create more and more e-books of interest to the sameaudience. Since they can't get more from the thief, theywill get it from you!5) Put a lot of personality in your e-book. It will make itharder to steal and claim as somebody else's, will make youdevelop close relationships with your customers, and willmake your e-book better.In my own e-book development, I try to combine all of theabove - prevention, pursuing, and promotion. But here is toyour e-books never to be stolen! Article Tags: Reprint Rights Source: Free Articles from