You spend years building your story in your head, breathing life into your characters, and then even longer to write it – only to give your blood, sweat and tears to make sure your book reaches its readers. And then – bam! In less than a month, you come across your own book offered completely free on some obscure website, or huge chunks of your story rewritten and reprinted under a different author’s name.
There is nothing more infuriating for an author than seeing their life’s work be stolen. And it happens far more commonly than we would expect.
How can you make sure your book isn’t pirated? Unfortunately, in today’s digital world where illegal content has become increasingly easier to keep hidden, it isn’t possible to completely prevent piracy. Instead, you can use the following methods to control piracy – and make it a little harder for those looking to pirate your book!
1. Register Your Book for Copyright Protection
The United States Copyright Office defines copyright as “a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.”
In short, copyright is your ownership of the work you created. Your work is copyrighted automatically the moment you put it out into the world, and the copyrights will remain with you for the duration of your life plus seventy years. But, registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office will give you extra protection in case of piracy and scams, by letting you take legal action with much less hassle.
2. Digital Watermarks and Text Scans
According to EditionGuard, a watermark is “often an overlay in the e-book that includes the purchaser’s personal information. Watermarks can also include publisher or author information. The primary function of digital watermarking is to identify the owner of the content. Watermarks ensure copyright protection and enable tracking the source of a book or media.”
These watermarks can be either visible or invisible and, while they don’t prevent piracy, they make it easier to track down pirated copies of your work. But watermarks will be useless if someone decides to upload scanned copies of your paperback – that is where text scan services come in handy. These scanning services will look for copies of your work based on the text, and not the watermark.
3. Check for Pirated Copies Periodically
When your book is first out, driven by pure zeal, you are likely to regularly scour the internet looking for pirated copies. But, frankly, after a few months, it will get exhausting. If someone is determined to pirate your book no matter what, there’s only so much you can do.
But now, there are much easier and less time consuming ways to regularly check for pirated copies of your book. You can set up alerts using free and paid services available to help you out. By selecting a passage from your book and creating a Google Alert, for instance, you will get an alert whenever that passage appears online.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.