Friday, May 13, 2011

Dealing With Copyright Thieves

Google Alerts notified me that two notorious Torrent sites are giving away copies of my copyrighted books.   A torrent is a stolen copy of a copyrighted work – usually a song, book, or movie.  I contacted both of these torrent sites.  One immediately removed my books. The other ignored me. I tried every email contact on the site.

So, I decided to go higher.  I contacted their domain registrar.  They ignored me.

Then I got what I hope is a brilliant idea – I started contacting their advertisers.  These torrent sites aren’t directly making money from giving away my books. They make money from advertisers who pay to place ads on their site, on the page where they offer my books for free.  Big and reputable companies like Toyota, NutriSystem, Verizon, Travelocity, One Hanes Place, Gaiam, Virgin Mobile, Marriott and American Express, place ads on these sites. I have contacted all of them, plus the smaller companies that I’d never seen ads from before.

Some of these advertisers have direct email contacts on their websites. Others like Valvoline and Toyota required me to follow them on Twitter in order to contact their support staff. Their support staff never tweeted me back.

I called Marriott on the phone and talked to a man who agreed to contact their advertising agencies and figure out which one is placing that ad and ask them to stop placing ads on

One of the ads said AdBrite at the top, so I went to the AdBrite website and asked them to help shut these thieves down.  

They wrote back:
Thank you for reporting this to us.  We will investigate the complaint immediately, and if the user has violated our policies we will limit their account.  Due to our privacy policy, we can’t discuss any actions we take on the account with you as you are not the account holder.

Our Publisher Acceptable Use Policy provides guidelines for acceptable publisher behavior, and lists different behaviors that we prohibit.  To read the Publisher Acceptable Use Policy, click here:

This looks like progress since the AdBrite policy is to prohibit sites without original content and sites that perform criminal activities. I’d say that stealing copyrighted work is a criminal activity. And since everything on their site is copyrighted by other people, they have no original content.

AdBrite also sent me a long form to fill out explaining how I know that I didn’t give permission to steal my work.  

I sent it in.  As of this morning – my books are no longer up on Demonoid

I still want to shut them down by persuading advertisers not to support them.  Every title they have is stolen from the copyright owner.

It's fine to go to places like the Gutenberg Project, that offer books on which the copyright has expired. 

Please support authors.  Do not go to sites that have free copies of artistic creations that are protected by copyright. 


  1. Glad you were able to get results. A pretty incredible way to achieve what should have been an easy task. To take back that which was rightfully yours.

    Photographers are also easy prey for thieves. They post their online portfolios and the work often gets taken to be used elsewhere. Some fight back by putting watermarks on their photos.

    Years ago I had a drawing stolen out of a publication by a non profit organization in Texas (I am in California). They used it for their logo. A very nasty letter to them took care of the problem. That was in the days before online usage. Now it would have been a widespread ordeal.

  2. I knew a poet whose work was plagiarized and he wrote a book about it, "Words for the taking." It is very good. What is weird is he couldn't get anyone, including literary magazine editors, to take him seriously! Not that serious a crime.

  3. Sharyn, -- I'm glad you got them to quit.

    Alison, -- Theft of intellectual property is an odd crime. It hurts that people will continue to publish works submitted by a thief, and not publish an apology. On the other hand, this kind of theft doesn't interfere with the writer's reputation or income. It's a crime that only harms the original author in a way that someone who has not been intellectually robbed cannot understand.

  4. To me, publication and copyright are sort of sacred. Plagiarism is a sin as well as a crime. So if even literary magazines or book publishers don't "get" what a violation it is, how can anyone else be expected to. The man who stole Bowers' work was building up a resume under a false name so he could be rehired as a teacher after a sex crime conviction. Sleaze from start to finish.

  5. Looks like the sleaze was exposed. That is as it should be, even in our unfair universe. I'm not clear how publishing poetry under a false name can lead to employment. I usually have to provide college degrees and transcripts, and other proofs of my qualifications. Schools do not like to be fooled, so they contact my colleges for confirmation. The real shame is that the poet who was robbed quit writing.

  6. Yeah...just building up a *true* resume that he really was published in real magazines (only with someone else's work). He changed the first line of the poems and the title, which is how poems are indexed. The sleaze was exposed but only because the poet had to hire a lawyer and a private eye. His University did not go to bat for him there. I think Bowers is still writing, just not poetry. His comments on that were illuminating.