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Fighting Internet Copyright Infringement

thievery

The other day I received an email I knew would be coming someday, but I was still very unhappy to see:

Tom,
I do not know if you are aware of this, but your Mad Art of Caricature Book is on-line at http://issuu.com for anyone to view or read for free.
Go to the website, type in Mad art of caricature in the search area this should take you to a different page, scroll down a couple of rows and you should be able to see
the cover to click on.

Just wanted to give you a heads up.

Regards,
Doug

Thanks, Doug! I knew this was going to eventually happen. I have been getting emails from people since The Mad Art of Caricature! came out asking me to sell them a PDF of the book, because they don’t want to have to pay for the outrageous shipping costs overseas. I have politely refused, simply because I did not want a PDF of my book released into the wild… I knew there was no way it would not get “shared” and eventually uploaded to a file sharing resource like issuu.com. If someone was going to make one, they’d have to cut the binding of a purchased copy, and hand scan all 184 pages. Of course, someone did. Several someones, in fact.

What’s really ridiculous is that I’ve probably gotten an email from one of these… ah… persons… telling me how they are big fans of my work and how much they love the book. They like and respect it so much they have gone ahead and STOLEN the content and shared it online so anyone can get it for free. Yeah, GREAT fans. Are people really that stupid, that they think doing something like that is somehow showing their appreciation? Apparently so.

The good news is, as an author and copyright owner, I don’t have to take this lying down… at least with sites like issuu.com or scribd.com (where I also found two uploaded copies of my book). Both offer avenues to lodge a complaint and a takedown request, and although they require you follow exact protocol when doing it, they both responded very quickly and removed all copies of my book on their sites. Scribd was particularly easy to work with, as they have an online version of the DCMA Copyright Infringement Takedown Notification Template that you simply fill out and hit “Submit” to send them. Scribd took down the instances of my book on their site within 24 hours. Issuu took a couple of days, but they also did it.

Another thing Scribd provided was this template for use in notifying any website with user-content that violates your copyright:

Attn: Copyright Agent, [website/company hosting infringing material]

Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that:

  1. I am [the exclusive rights holder | the duly authorized representative of the exclusive rights holder] for [title of copyrighted material being infringed upon, and, if possible, additional identifying information such as ISBNs, publication dates, etc — or, if the material is a web page, the URL];
  2. These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s): [URLs of infringing material];
  3. I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the copyright holder, the copyright holder’s agent, or the law;
  4. Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights holder for the material in question;
  5. I may be contacted by the following methods (include all): [physical address, telephone number, and email address];

I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you.

Regards,
[your full legal name]
[Electronic or original signature required]

That is very useful as it follows the legal guidelines required by the DMCA for a formal take-down demand. It demonstrates you know what you are doing, and that can get less-scrupulous sites to pay attention. Just copy and paste the above into an email, find the email link to the site’s owners or, failing that, the server owner it’s hosted on. Fill in the specifics and send it off. It probably won’t do you much good if the site is outside the U.S., but it’s worth a try. Both Scribd and Issuu are in the U.S.

Scribd also has a handy page of suggestions for how to monitor the great, wide interwebs for copyright infringement of books or publications. I use the “Google Alert” message they suggest, but I did not know about the various services available that search for copyright infringement for you like MUSO and Attributor.

Sadly, my book is now out “in the wild” in PDF form thanks to some thieves with a scanner and too much time on their hands. Likely I’ll be sending off a lot of the above letter, and likely many times it will be for naught. I’ll keep trying, though. And maybe I’ll win the lottery someday, and can hire some internet sleuths to track down the… ah… persons… who scanned my book and then send some local hard boys over to make sure they don’t scan anything for about 6 months, SEE!

In the meantime there is one thing I can do to discourage people from downloading a pirated copy of the book from some shady site… offer an official, affordable downloadable eBook version they can legally pay for. I will have that done by this fall, either with or without the extra content I was hoping to get to this summer. It will only be available for full color readers, though, like the Kindle Fire and the iPad.

EDIT- I was remiss when writing this post not to thank the thousands of people out there that DID purchase an actual copy my book, especially those that did so directly from me. I know there are cheaper options out there, including Amazon and others who sell the book for only a few $$ over the wholesale price, so buying it directly from me is very much appreciated. Actually buying it at ALL is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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6 Responses to “Fighting Internet Copyright Infringement”

  1. I bought your book as a) I loved your tutorials over the years and b) I respect you as an artist. When the iPad version of the eBook comes out I’ll probably buy that too so I can have it on the go. Some people are such scumbags.

  2. Your book is frequently referenced in my efforts to become a better cartoonist, Tom, and the limited edition Bond print is framed and hanging in my office beside me on the wall as I type this. One of my favorite pieces of artwork. Like Scott said above, I would still buy the iPad version as I like having a number of reference books to take with me while traveling.

  3. David Lubin says:

    Congrats on getting them offline, Tom. What’s equally egregious are some comments left by unhappy patients (as I’m a physician) on different review sites, made because they didn’t get the drugs they wanted or the outcome they were expecting. There are ways to fight them, but I think most people reading them realize what’s happening, especially when there are also good reviews. I still get patients from online searches despite what some people say about me…LOL.

  4. Jose D. says:

    I bought the book from you Tom, and I will gladly fork over some more dough to get it on my iPad!

  5. Leo Kelly says:

    Tom–I totally enjoy the book, moreover was drawing at a recent post-prom event and another caricaturist pulled your book out and excitedly exclaimed ” have you seen this?!”…let it be known your book is out here, greatly appreciated by enthusiastic customers.

  6. Frank Pryor says:

    Glad you’re offering in in a download, but I am grateful I purchased the hard copy from you when it first was available. There’s nothing better to me than buying a resource like yours direct from artist. It also looks great on my bookshelf!

 

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