Ebay Ebook Piracy – A Brief Guide
Ebay ebook piracy. It’s not as hard to say as ‘Irish wristwatch’ but it’s still pretty tricky – and it’s tricky to unravel as a subject, too. I posted about this on Twitter recently, and after receiving some pretty good feedback, I thought it might be worth posting here on the Hive, too.
If you search for an author/book on eBay, the large majority are legitimate listings for either brand-new books or second-hand copies from businesses and private sellers.
However, look long & hard enough (or ‘smart’ enough) and you’ll find ebooks for sale.
I’m not going to get into the technicalities of copyright laws, but by and large these listings are for ‘pirated eBooks’. In rare – VERY RARE – circumstances, these may be perfectly legit listings (e.g. when copyright has expired or for licensed resellers), but 99% of the time they are illegal.
So, what is ebook piracy?
Ebook piracy is when someone ‘steals’ a copy of your book and puts it online for people to download.
BUT – I hear you cry – isn’t ebook piracy when someone puts it up to download for FREE?
But it also covers someone putting it up to download for $$$.
Both are equally as damaging to an author (lost moneyz) but IMHO someone selling your ebook is worse. (Note: I’m not going to debate the rights and wrongs of free illegal downloads so don’t @ me).
How do I find out if my ebook is being pirated on eBay?
Simple: search for it.
But as I said earlier, this can require looking long and hard, unless you’re looking ‘smart’.
To make this easier, try adding any/all of the following to a search for your author/book name: Ebook / .pdf / kindle / .mobi
And don’t forget to check the international results! Some that don’t appear on eBay.co.uk will appear on .com and vice versa.
What do I do if my ebook is being pirated on eBay?
On every listing there is the functionality to ‘report item’ found by the ‘item description’.
Some users may find that they encounter a ‘too many redirects’ error when trying to report an item. If this happens, use eBay’s ‘Help’ section to search for their ‘report an item’ process which doesn’t require you to report from the product homepage.
Additionally, you can also ‘report seller’.
What about eBay’s Rules/Community Guidelines?
What about authorised resellers?
Sure, these are a thing. But it’s pretty obvious when someone is an authorised reseller, or a pirate. No, they don’t have a peg-leg or eye-patch avatar on their eBay profile (though that would help), but they’re not hard to spot.
What about the publishers? Isn’t it their job to stop this from happening?
I know that some publishers have robust processes for actioning take-downs on websites offering pirated eBooks. But eBay is a little different.
Of course, publishers have skin in the game when it comes to pirated books for sale (this still adds up to lost sales for them after all), but I don’t know what process they have for checking eBay. I mean, it’s a full-time job in itself, searching the internet looking for pirated books; and it can get costly actioning DMCA take-downs (unless you are comfortable doing it yourself). And anyone can do a search of eBay for pirated ebooks and report them – yes, even readers.
Pirated ebooks are bad. Legit ebooks are good.
Don’t do the bad drugs. Stay in school.
And don’t forget: ebook piracy harms everyone. Writers, publishers, and readers alike. If publishers don’t make sells, they don’t buy books from writers, and we as readers don’t get to read said books. It’s the circle of life. Kinda. But with moar dragons (in the case of fantasy).