Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Wednesday News: Amazing pictures of earth; Stephen Leather boasts of sock...

Snow cave in Russia

Photographer: Michael Zelensky Snow cave in Russia

Stephen Leather sat on a panel on publishing in the UK.  He said some silly thingslike how fans are a suitable source of editing/copyediting/fact finding (I tried to explain that with eBooks, an author with a large fan base can use fans to edit and proof-read.  Everyone seemed to think that meant I thought writers could do away with editors, and of course that’s not the case. But not every writer needs a hard edit, some writers need little more than proof-reading and fact-checking and that can be done through fans.”) but he never, in his blogpost, mentioned anything about blithely creating sock puppets. It looks like Leather writes some porny work so if you come across it in the erotica section and it seems well reviewed, it’s definitely a case of buyer beware.
Readers appear to be gravitating toward the multifunction tablet device and away from the dedicated ereader.

There is a purported Canadian who appears to be engaged in wholesale copyright infringement of ebooks by sharing them freely and refusing to abide by copyright notices.  He declares himself above the law or that somehow copyright does not apply to him.  He is even engaging in Stop the GR Bullies behavior by posting the full name, address, and phone number of the authors that are sending him DMCA takedown notices and posting pictures of those authors with their personal information.   Someone asked me if I was going to blog about it and I responded that I ordinarily don’t post links to a pirate site because I don’t want to publicize access.  In this case, posting for the purposes of shaming wouldn’t work because he is brazen.  He is proud he is engaging in this activity.  His domain name server is in the U.S. and I reported that he was engaged in behavior that was infringing. I also contacted Flattr, a micropayment system that the infringer was using.  The company is based in Sweden so I have few hopes that there will be a positive response.

I’m open to hearing ideas from the crowd on how DA can help in this case.  We are limited in what legal action we can take because we don’t hold the copyright to any of the materials being improperly hosted.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. library addict
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 04:48:31

    I guess any publicly really is good publicity. Sad.

    ReplyReply

  2. Dani Alexander
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 05:21:18

    Some things to consider:

    1. Did you know that Amazon’s Prime program isn’t available outside the USA? This means when you choose Kindle Select, your book isn’t free for the outside world for that time period and it can’t be lent either to anyone outside there. Kindle select may seem like a great program, but there’s a lot of problems with it. (see solution at point 2).

    2. Did you know that Amazon charges a VAT cost for sales of ebooks which is approximately an extra $2 for some people? Solution: Make your book widely available. Put it on every ebook site you can: B&N, Amazon, ARe, Kobo, Smashwords etc.

    3. Publishers, if you’re listening, your book not being available outside the USA for a period means that fans of your authors are downloading the product early. Don’t blame pirates for this, this is your own ignorance imo. Solution: you only have to look at the gaming industry to see the solution to this. From my own experience, I know at least 20-30 people here in Sweden who stopped pirating most games when Steam came out. Why? It’s a streaming service, they can download it legally, it doesn’t cost them buttloads of money. They also release games nowadays worldwide rather than USA then Europe days/weeks later. HUGE difference.

    4. $14.99 for an ebook? Really? REALLY? My paperback book costs people $12.95. POD! Yes my POD book costs less than some publisher’s ebooks.<—-HELLO.

    I live in Sweden, so I know a lot about piracy (One of the government parties is The Pirate party). What I can tell you is that pirates will find whatever they need regardless of how many takedown notices you send, how much uproar you cause or how many laws you shift into place. You can't reason with people who want things for free no matter the cost for others. The truth is that the vast majority of piracy happens because of poor thinking on the part of publishers ( and MOVIE production companies). Prices too high, VAT costs, lack of immediate availability, etc. For those particular pirates, the best form of defense is making products widely and easily available for download at reasonable costs. It won't stop them all, but you'll NEVER stop them all. Some a$$holes will always just want free sh#t. Some a$$holes just feel entitled. Those you won't stop. Even with all the above–making my book cheap, making it available through multiple outlets, releasing it worldwide–I still get pirated. There are just some people who don't give a crap if I can pay the bills. But most people MOST people understand and most people would rather support the authors.

    The best thing you can do is to find solutions and encourage publishers to look for them as well (which I know you've been doing.) The worst thing is to give them any publicity whatsoever (thank you for not linking to him or his crappy site). He gains publicity for every outraged link, which is why he becomes more outrageous.

    ReplyReply

  3. Nadia Lee
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 06:17:37

    @Dani Alexander:

    1. Did you know that Amazon’s Prime program isn’t available outside the USA? This means when you choose Kindle Select, your book isn’t free for the outside world for that time period and it can’t be lent either to anyone outside there. Kindle select may seem like a great program, but there’s a lot of problems with it. (see solution at point 2).

    Actually when a book is made free via Amazon’s KDP Select, anybody, not just the Amazon Prime members, can download it for free for up to five days. Amazon’s Prime basically allows you to “borrow” an ebook for free (up to 12 ebooks / year), in addition to getting free priority shipping on all orders from Amazon and a few other perks.

    BTW — most people get the Prime membership, not to borrow ebooks, but to get the unlimited priority shipping. The ability to borrow 12 ebooks free per year just isn’t worth paying $79/year for.

    The only issue with Amazon’s KDP Select is that the title is exclusive to Amazon for 3 months.

    2. Did you know that Amazon charges a VAT cost for sales of ebooks which is approximately an extra $2 for some people? Solution: Make your book widely available. Put it on every ebook site you can: B&N, Amazon, ARe, Kobo, Smashwords etc.

    All ebook vendors are supposed to charge VAT. You may be confusing the $2 Amazon charges as some kind of VAT, but it’s actually Amazon’s Whispernet Sync/Delivery surcharge for international customers in certain locations.

    B&N, BTW, does not allow international customers to buy from their website because it won’t ship anything overseas and it won’t let you buy Nook ebooks either.

    ReplyReply

  4. Dani Alexander
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 07:01:19

    @Nadia Lee:

    Actually when a book is made free via Amazon’s KDP Select, anybody, not just the Amazon Prime members, can download it for free for up to five days. Amazon’s Prime basically allows you to “borrow” an ebook for free (up to 12 ebooks / year), in addition to getting free priority shipping on all orders from Amazon and a few other perks.

    Aha. I didn’t know that it came free as well. I got charged for K.A. Mitchel’s book even though it was listed as free.

    All ebook vendors are supposed to charge VAT. You may be confusing the $2 Amazon charges as some kind of VAT, but it’s actually Amazon’s Whispernet Sync/Delivery surcharge for international customers in certain locations.

    They don’t though. Smashwords doesn’t, ARe doesn’t. And yeah, you’re right, Whispernet/Sync is the charge, which is a ridiculous charge.

    My first point is a bit invalidated upon your correction (except there’s still the whispernet/sync charge added to even that free book).

    ETA: WRong book I mentioned. It was KA MItchell, not SA Meade.

    ReplyReply

  5. SAO
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 07:01:54

    As Dani Alexander makes clear, the world is full of people who have the English language skills to read books in English, but who do not live in the English speaking world. There’s a huge hunger for English language books that is very poorly served by the few English-language bookstores in these countries.

    Enforcing geographical restrictions means that pirating books become the norm. One of my Russian friends, who reads books in Russian got a Kindle. I asked if Amazon was now stocking a selection of Russian language books. My friend told me that Kindle books are free and that was why she chose a Kindle. She had no clue about the piracy issue in the US. Russia has lost the music issue. There are almost no stores that sell MP3s and those that do sell a handful of top hits. Music is, according to most Russians, free and musicians make their money on shows. Unfortunately, authors have never been able to charge for live gigs.

    The world needs to figure out a sales methodology that works around the world. As it stands, I think most publishers are willing to ignore anyone they couldn’t sell a regular book to and then bemoan the fact that piracy happens.

    BTW, Amazon charges you based on your “home” location, which can be changed somewhere in the Manage my Kindle menu. My Amazon account was opened in the UK, my default billing address is Russia, but my Kindle’s home address is the US, meaning I get US prices and geo restrictions, regardless of where I am (usually Russia) when I buy Kindle books.

    ReplyReply

  6. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 07:34:56

    E-readers. I’ve been reading on my rooted Nook Color now, and gravitating towards it for a variety of reasons. The first and most important is the backlight. I do a lot of reading at night, and having a tablet with a backlight (that I can turn way, way down if I want to) is just convenient. I sold my Kobo, and so now I have a Kindle and a Nook Touch, which I prefer to the Kindle. But I read on the color tablet. If the Nook Color breaks, I’ll buy a Google Nexus 7 (beautiful little machines, totally sold out in the UK at the moment) because I can’t buy a Nook Color, Nook Tablet or Kindle Fire in the UK. If the Kindle or Nook Touch break, I probably won’t bother replacing them. The only time I’m grateful to the e-reader is long transatlantic plane journeys, because the battery holds out for so long. But the NC will work for around 8 hours before it packs in.
    I also have a drawer full of less than satisfactory clip-on lights.

    ReplyReply

  7. A.M.K.
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 07:39:53

    @Dani Alexander:

    Re: number 2. Oh dear, YES. I also live in Europe (in a non-English speaking country) and Amazon’s surcharges continue to frustrate and mystify me. How do they even work? Because I still don’t get the rules. Some books have them, some don’t.

    On Amazon, Courtney Milan’s novellas cost $0.99, as they should, but Unraveled costs $6.69 (the price set by Courtney is $3.99, judging by ARe). So perhaps the lowest prices don’t get the surchage? Well, no, because a lot of supposedly $0.99 books in fact cost $3.44, for example Eloisa James’s novellas. That’s one huge VAT. On the other hand, Sarah Mayberry’s latest book is $2.99, so no surcharge.

    A week or so ago I decided to buy Ruthie Knox’s Ride With Me and About Last Night. But on Amazon they cost $7.58 and $5.72 respectively instead of $2.99 each. Ok, I realize life is not fair and business is not fair, but that’s taking it a bit too far. Do I really have to pay over 7 dollars if the regular price is so much lower? So I checked on ARe – well, they are there, DRM protected epubs and I only have a Kindle, but ok, I’ll read the books on my phone. So I put them into my basket and oops – geographical restrictions. Really? I continued my search.Obviously the books were not on smashwords, they were not on fictionwise, and Sony doesn’t even let me register. I finally found them on booksonboard and it let me buy them. I don’t know why they weren’t geographically restricted there while they were on ARe, but I think I was too tired by that point to worry about cheating the system or something…

    ReplyReply

  8. Annemarie Hartnett
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 07:56:11

    @Jane, google tells me web host for the pirate is Frantech, located in BC. I tweeted them yesterday and they provided the address of [email protected].

    Their AUP: https://my.frantech.ca/aup.php — according to this, “Repeated DMCAs received for the same service will result in termination of the offending service(s) with no compensation given.”

    He claims that he’s not responsible for content users post, but the files seem to be hosted on his site — ergo, he’s hosting whether he says he is or not, correct?

    With the controversial Copyright Modernization Act in the last stages of becoming into force, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a crackdown in Canada to shake off the reputation of being a pirate’s haven.

    (As an aside, I’m absolutely outraged that this pirate is an MP Candidate in his riding and that he’s regarded by at least one of his fellow candidates as the little guy.)

    ReplyReply

  9. Courtney Milan
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 08:29:50

    @A.M.K.:

    I believe this is Amazon’s annoying WhisperSync charge, not a VAT. They purportedly add it for people who are downloading it in a country without free WhisperSync to make it so you can download it through 3G.

    And yes, it drives me batty!

    I’ve heard from some people that my books don’t have the magic charge and others that it’s insanely high. I wish I had even the slightest inkling how to control it. Sorry!

    ReplyReply

  10. A.M.K.
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 09:55:27

    @Courtney Milan:

    You may well be right, but the annoying thing is that my Kindle is wifi-only, so obviously I never use 3G anyway and I’m still expected to pay the charge :/

    I used your books as an example of the pricing issues, but in your case it’s really not as big a deal as in cases such as Ruthie Knox’s. Your self-published books are available elsewhere, without geographical restrictions and without DRM. Frankly, these days I’ll choose this option over Amazon even if there’s no difference in price.

    ReplyReply

  11. Maili
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 10:04:14

    “that can be done through fans.” — I really hate it when authors refer readers as “fans”. Hate it. /cranky

    “There is a purported Canadian who appears to be engaged in wholesale copyright infringement of ebooks by sharing them freely and refusing to abide by copyright notices. He declares himself above the law or that somehow copyright does not apply to him. ”

    He’s using the same tactics other non-US (and occasionally, US) sites have been using. Some are exploiting the fact that some countries don’t have a law against certain actions, such as *downloading* copyrighted materials, *uploading* copyrighted materials or *hosting* copyrighted materials. For instance, in France, it isn’t (or possibly, now wasn’t) illegal to download copyrighted materials without permission. So copyright owners or licensees had to go after uploaders, not downloaders.

    Also in some cases, hosts cannot be held responsible for user-contents (e.g. uploaded by users) in the same way all bloggers cannot be held responsible for the contents of their commenters’ responses. Insane, but that’s how some exploit certain loopholes. That’s as far as I can remember, anyway. Legal stances of each country change almost all the time and often rapidly, so I have no idea how it all stands nowadays.

    As frustrating as it is, DMCA (and US law) really does not apply to the rest of the world (except for certain cases, but I’m too far out of depth to explain with confidence). It has to be in accordance with each one’s own country. Fail-safe solution: Put a C&D in writing and – this is crucial – sign the damn letter. A signature is usually the key. This is usually good enough to go after the person if the person ignored the letter in his or her own country. For various reasons, sending it via email isn’t acceptable for some, but it can be fine if sent through fax, which is acceptable in most countries. The ironcast method is still physical post, though. Hosts cannot refuse to provide their post addresses when requested.

    Regardless of all that, it’s still a good idea to seek legal help or advice from intellectual property or entertainment lawyer (not just any lawyer). Even better if in the person’s own country. So frustrating, though.

    Arseholes like him annoy me so much that I just foam at mouth.

    ReplyReply

  12. Tina
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 10:37:30

    But I think Whispersync is different from Whispernet. If they are adding a charge it isn’t for the ability to download. It is for the ability to sync.

    Whispernet is what AZ calls it’s network that allows 3G users to download content.

    Whispersync is part technology that allows you to sync your books to last page read over multiple devices. So if you have a Kindle App on your Iphone it automatically opens to the last page you read on your Kindle. I think in order for the devices to sync up they have to “talk” to the Amazon/Sprint network. Which is where the charge comes in, i think.

    The problem I see is that they are automatically charging right on the top for something you may not necessarily want. And it hit’s non-Us persons because it acts as something like a roaming charge. Except they are charging you for it up-front as part of the price of the book.

    ReplyReply

  13. becca
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 10:57:20

    I think you’re right that eink devices will ultimately give way to tablets, but I’ll be so sorry when that happens. I mostly read narrative fiction, which rarely has color illustrations – since my paperbacks are all in black and white, I see no need for the extra weight and lower battery life of a color device.

    ReplyReply

  14. Lyynd
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 11:21:49

    @Annemarie Hartnett: There is an offense under the existing Canadian Copyright Act, s. 42 (which has not been repealed under the new legislation coming into force) that he could likely be charged under if anyone wanted to contact the RCMP and file a complaint. He might also be charged under PIPEDA for disclosing personal information of third parties without consent. What party is he with – maybe someone should notify them as well?

    ReplyReply

  15. Gwen Hayes
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 11:37:04

    I would totally give my books away for free if I could fill a stadium with ticketed people who wanted to watch me write for two hours.

    I’d even throw in some pyrotechnics and wear leather pants.

    ReplyReply

  16. MrsJoseph
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 12:22:45

    @Gwen Hayes: I’d pay for that. :-D

    Of course, I’d want some performance art, too. Maybe, some read alouds?

    ReplyReply

  17. Annemarie
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 12:29:30

    @Lyynd:

    I don’t think contacting the party is going to do any good lol. You’ll love this. He’s with the Piracy Party of Canada in Hedy Fry’s riding. Did some googling and apparently he was at a debate in Vancouver and the Green Party candidate acknowledged him because she came from a grassroots movement too.

    At this point it seems like authors are nervous about contacting him because he’s publishing their info online, so we’ll see what happens when one contacts his host. I’d like to see at least one author pick up the phone and call the RCMP in BC.

    ReplyReply

  18. Jane
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 12:36:15

    @Annemarie: and @Lyynd: It seems to me that Harlequin, based out of Canada, should be making some phone calls or sending letters. Hopefully their authors will notify them of this person’s site and ask the Harlequin legal department to act on their behest.

    ReplyReply

  19. Lynnd
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 12:49:41

    @Annemarie: Oh good lord, the Piracy Party! So, if he gets arrested he’s going to claim he’s a martyr to the “cause” like the Marijuana Party dudes. There are days I just shake my head and wonder.

    @Jane – I agree and their parent company Torstar should do as well.

    ReplyReply

  20. Annemarie
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 13:22:48

    @Jane:

    He seems to be honouring DCMA notices from publishers. When this first broke, he was noting that he had received a few from Harper Collins.

    RCMP section on copyright infringement with contact info: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/fep-pelf/ipr-dpi/guide-eng.htm

    @Lynnd:

    That was my exact thought, too. Here’s the kicker — on his blog he spewed about the invasion of privacy by the Big Bad Conservative government on numerous occasions (and oh, how it stings me to side with them) as a result of Bills C-11, C-30, etc., and yet he’s posting the private contact details of authors who send him legal notices. So not only is he a thief, but he’s a hypocrite.

    ReplyReply

  21. Anne V
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 14:01:55

    @becca:

    I will also be sad if/when the dedicated e-ink devices go away. It’s not because I don’t like a tablet – I like them quite a bit, as evidenced by how I have 4 (ipad 2, ipad 3, kindle fire, galaxy 3) – but I don’t like them for reading. there’s something about the backlight and the glare that makes my eyes itch and my head hurt when I use them for reading. also, comparatively big and heavy.

    ReplyReply

  22. Lynnd
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 14:40:44

    @Annemarie: It’s enough to make a cat blush.

    ReplyReply

  23. Maura
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 16:08:07

    I got an e-reader instead of a tablet because I didn’t want a tablet. I wanted a dedicated reading device with e-ink technology, which I find infinitely easier to read. I’ll be annoyed but not surprised if they eventually give way to tablets, but I’m going to keep my Nook as long as I can.

    ReplyReply

  24. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 19:10:38

    RE: One thing that people at DA can do, although it’s time consuming, is to notify the publishers.

    Only a FEW though have easy online forms and I’d stick to those.
    http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/PiracyLink.aspx
    (Hachette has authors like Larissa Ione, Stephanie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks)

    Simon and Schuster
    http://www.simonandschuster.biz/online_piracy_report
    Has some of the star trek books

    you need to make sure you’re actually reporting the right books to the right pubs, which is why it’s so time consuming, but with the purported 1ok or however many books he claims to have, the more reports that go in, the better.

    There might be other pubs with direct piracy forms, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Those links, though, you don’t have to be the rights owner.

    ReplyReply

  25. Lynnd
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 19:22:20

    @Shiloh Walker: The big publishers have Canadian subsidiaries or divisions to distribute North American published books in Canada so it might worthwhile for authors to contact them as well as the U.S. companies.

    ReplyReply

  26. Kaetrin
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 23:59:04

    What confuses so much about the Amazon Whispernet fee (which is on their website as ” includes FREE* international wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet”) is that it is applied with no visible consistency. Some books have it Some do not. I can’t work out what makes it apply to one book but not another. Apparently, Amazon don’t know either.

    (*my emphasis)

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: