Author Caution: Be Careful Linking to Pirate Sites

STOP: Authors, Be Careful

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

I’ve been sitting on this article since February (See screenshot below) and had almost decided not to publish it.

After seeing Chris share the article on Piracy, Plagiarism and Impersonation however, I thought maybe it was time for me to open my mouth about this.

Back in February, information surfaced about a pirate website charging readers for a month of unlimited downloads of stolen books and many Indie Authors found their books listed (myself included). After hearing about this I was (obviously) concerned and have even shared the news on Twitter. Since then, I’ve seen more and more authors put the word out. But then…

After some observation, I deleted my Twitter retweet and stopped worrying about it. I had to take a step back and see what was really going on. This website popped up, seemingly out of nowhere and their website has been shared repeatedly over the internet.

Red flag.

Did you  read hear what I said? Their website has been shared repeatedly. They are getting more and more attention, more views and more clicks. You would think someone had just launched a new product. Personally, I am not going to post the link to that site on this blog but I am pretty sure you know which one I am talking about. While putting the word out is good, my caution is to be careful with those links.

When I first read about this, the only way to know if your book is listed was by searching for it on their website by typing your book title into their search box. I’ve even heard recommendations from people telling authors to type their name into the site to see if their book is there…errr…

Red flag.

In just one week from my initial viewing, I noticed that their website had been upgraded. It did not start off with a display of the book covers when I first *heard* about it. Today, it looks slightly more professional.

Red flag.

My warning is simple:

Be very careful linking pirate websites in any way, to your blog, of downloading your books from these sites, of typing anything into their search boxes, and of clicking on links or Ads on these websites whatsoever.

“Do not visit a pirate website to confirm whether your books are there, as this puts your computer at risk.” – Indie Author Self-Defense: Piracy, Plagiarism, and Impersonation

Do not blindly jump on the bandwagon but be cautious with your handling of those links and your promotion of them. It is also possible that many sites like this pull book covers and metadata from Amazon and Goodreads but they do not actually have the books. Instead, they are using the images to scam people by stealing their personal and financial information and then sending viruses to their computers.

“Piracy is the unlawful copying of your work, and it’s the most common form of content theft. However, there’s good news: only a tiny fraction of the piracy you find on the web is actually piracy. Most pirate websites don’t actually have stolen content. They use software to gather titles, covers, and descriptions from Amazon or other retailers to use as bait. Then they set up a convincing storefront on the web which claims to offer those books, usually free or for a ludicrously low “all you can eat” subscription.”

Source: Indie Author Self-Defense: Piracy, Plagiarism, and Impersonation

That’s why I said be cautious poking around. It’s not wrong to link to anything but with certain websites you don’t know if just clicking on something will give you a virus (or going to the website period.) It’s frustrating, I know, for people to take anything of yours but you can possibly do more harm than good linking those sites to your blogs.

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