Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Rant About Copyright Infringement

Currently, I am battling a site that is registered in France, China, and Russia. It is called wiredshelf.com and I understand that not only does it post e-books such as mine to entice booklovers to "subscribe" to a "subscription library" of 100,000 e-books (many of which are being advertised and possibly shared "free" without the consent, permission or compensation to the copyright owners) but it also allegedly abuses any credit card information supplied by would-be subscribers.

Wiredshelf.com looks legitimate. It turns up in searches on Google and Alexa. It is protected by various privacy-protect "fronts".

Wiredshelf is protected by Twitter. Twitter members may boast freely in tweets that they have added or uploaded copyrighted works, and direct all the world to wiredshelf.com. In response, Twitter insists on DMCAs for the copyright owners, takes two or more days about it, will not remove any link except those identified individually by actual copyright owners.

Moreover, Twitter threatens the very authors it is harming with exposure on Chilling Effects, and with lawsuits if they should dare to overstep the bounds.

EBay is awash with DVDs of e-books burned by amateurs and entrepreneurs who seem to believe that they can claim copyright on anything they can snag from a pirate site. EBay raises unbelievable hurdles to authors. Copyright owners must own specific types of accounts, they must be pre-registered, they must have access to faxes and printers... woe betide any copyright owner who happens to be travelling when she hears that her e-books are being illegally auctioned on eBay!

Copyright-infringing vendors keep their good reputations. EBayers who purchase illegal DVDs are not informed that they do not (as they were led to believe in the auctions) own the copyright to bestselling modern novels that they bought on EBay. Therefore, the same copyright infringing collections are sold over and over again in multiple auctions by increasing numbers of eBayers.

The same happens on other internet sites.

My works have been stolen, shared, sold without my permission, scanned, posted in libraries more times than I can count. My copyright has been directly infringed by SONY, AMAZON and indirectly infringed by Plunder, Astatalk, EBay, wiredshelf....

Congress and the Library of Congress must define what is a RED FLAG, and must oblige OSPs that want "Safe Harbor" to pay attention to and investigate warnings and reports from members of the public.

Something must be done to address the all-too-popular misconception that if an e-book is "freely" available on a pirate site or file sharing site, it must necessarily be "in the public domain". If the author is alive, she probably owns that copyright, in which case, no one else may claim copyright over that work.

Just because Google or Adbrite robots place respectable companies' advertisements on a site (for pay) does not confer necessary respectability on that site. It could still be infringing authors' and artists' and musicians; copyright.

Just because a hosting site has wording it its TOS and TOU that deplore and forbid copyright infringement and ostensibly threaten infringers with banning and loss of access does not mean that those sites follow through. It does not mean that sites like FILESONIC aren't paying a cash bounty  for every unwitting illegal downloader who visits their site and steals a "free" movie, game, or e-book, or for every new subscriber who signs up for a paid premium account so that they can download more "freebies" faster, before the greedy publishers and producers find out that their work is being given away free, and send a take down notice.

At the moment, creators cannot afford to sue pirates, and the pirates know it. They post "Guides" to that effect on EBay. Piracy pays, because pirates (and PayPal and Google and the advertisement aggregators) keep making money until the pirates are caught, and when they are caught, they simply have to change an email address and start again.

Rowena Cherry

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