How authors can help remove their books from online pirate sites

10 May 2019 How

In recent years there has been a concerning rise in the number of book piracy websites, and we are often contacted by authors who have discovered that pirated copies are being offered for illegal download online.

There is no panacea to eradicating online book piracy. But there are steps that authors and publishers can take to remove pirated copies of their work that appear online.

You can read our detailed guide to online book piracy here.

These are the key steps authors can take to have pirated copies of their work taken down when they appear online:

1. Takedown notice

Rights holders can request that their work is taken down by sending a ‘takedown notice’ (also known as a DMCA notice, a reference to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to the offending website.

2. Ask your publisher

If you have a publisher, they will often have the rights to act against piracy and the resources to carry out sophisticated data tracking of piracy sites. You should therefore report the matter to your publisher and ask that they submit the takedown request themselves or via the Publishers Association’s copyright infringement portal.

3. Unless you control the rights yourself

If the rights are controlled by you – because your publishing contract has terminated, or you are self-published – you can send a takedown notice to the offending site yourself. (Even if you are a published author, you can still send a takedown notice in addition to that sent by your publisher, but it will probably not increase the chances of your work being taken down.)

To submit a takedown notice, you should email the website using the contact details provided on the site. Your email should be headed ‘takedown request’ and should include your name and contact details, the URL of the offending material, full details of that material, and an explanation as to why you believe it to be an infringement of your rights. Please let the SoA know how you get on – it all helps with the advice and support we can provide to members.

4. Yes, this is a short-term fix

This is clearly not an acceptable solution to the problem of book piracy in the long term. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of authors and publishers to politely ask for their copyright not to be infringed.

But in the absence of a straightforward means of getting these sites removed altogether, it is worth pursuing this route to minimise the chances of your books being illegally downloaded. Our guide to online piracy sets out the additional action we are taking in partnership with other organisations to tackle book piracy. 

5. Make your voice heard

Finally: please do encourage readers to buy your books and use public libraries, NOT pirate sites! Also try to avoid naming these sites on social media or on other public forums. They are impervious to being named and shamed and our experience shows that giving these sites publicity only leads to a spike in traffic and risks an increase in illegal downloads. Most importantly, don’t publish links to the sites in question. 

Piracy websites threaten the entire ecosystem of the book, and are therefore harmful to authors, publishers, booksellers and readers alike.