I get the occasional email or other message from concerned individuals who write to tell me they have found my book The Mad Art of Caricature! available as a free PDF download here or there, and just wanted to make me aware of it. I really do appreciate that, but I am sadly very aware of it. These are copies someone has spent hours scanning in from a printed copy (presumably) cut up into individual pages. The images look terrible and the text is furry but it’s readable.
There is not much I can do about this, unless I want to spend all day every day scouring the internet for illegally uploaded copies and write web hosts demanding their removal. Even if I did have the time to do that, it would still prove fruitless because outside the U.S. (and even inside it) few people care about copyright infringement because legal action is almost impossible to take. Even worse, many seem to think it’s actually a GOOD thing that someone is stealing your work and giving it away.
For example, the Eastern Eurpoean Facebook rip-off social site VK.Com has a copy of it uploaded to their site by some user (and just to show you how dumb these people are they don’t even require someone to sign up to be a member to access it). This was one of the ones I have tried to take action with, simply because they seem like a legitimate site that might actually care about copyrights. Here’s how our exchange went.
Content Removal Request:
Hello. A user on your site has uploaded a copy of my book, The Mad Art of Caricature! as a PDF without my permission. This is a copyrighted book and I’d like to have it removed. I am both the author and publisher:
Links to disputed content provided in form.
Support agent #639
Is it really so bad that people like your work and want to share it with each other? They make it popular. It is like free advertisement, isn’t it?
However, if you insist deletion, please, send us the contract with the publishing house.
Your VK team.
Wow. First I’m told this is something I should be grateful for. Then I’m asked to prove I am the copyright holder and it’s a legitimate copyright violation. You see, the person who uploaded the content does not have to prove he IS the copyright holder, or has their permission to upload it. They just have to click “upload” and then go get a sandwich. The onus is apparently on anyone who has the audacity to suggest that it is content the uploading party does not own and is being infringed upon. Clearly this person is not the author… his name is not on the cover of the book! Mine is, but I need to send them legal documents to prove it. I responded with the following:
Dear Agent #639
Here is my contract with the publishing house:
THIS PUBLISHING AGREEMENT is made and entered into as of this date, November 1, 2011, by and between Tom Richmond (HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS “Self”), and Tom Richmond, (hereinafter referred to as “Also Self”).
WHEREAS, Self publishes books under the name “Deadline Demon Publishing” (Hereinafter referred to as “Self Publisher”), and is in the business of publishing books:
AND WHEREAS, Also Self is an author and illustrator of books:
AND WHEREAS, Self and Also Self have agreed that Also Self has created and owns the copyrights for the content of a book entitled “The Mad Art of Caricature! A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces” (Hereinafter referred to as “TMAoC”).
NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual terms, covenants, conditions and agreements herein contained, and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, the parties hereto agree as follows:
1. COPYRIGHT AGREEMENT: Also Self grants Self the copyrights to publish, in both print and digital form, TMAoC.
2. EXCLUSIVITY AGREEMENT: Also Self agrees that Self has sole permission to publish, disseminate, or otherwise make available, TMAoC to the World and the Entire Universe, including but not limited to extra dimensions be they known or as yet undiscovered. No other person, entity, organization, corporation, mutant, or supernatural being is granted or implied to be granted copyrights to publish, disseminate, or otherwise make available, TMAoC, in whole or in part.
3. TIME LIMIT: Also Self agrees that Self will retain the copyrights as set forth above in perpetuity and forever and forever, Amen, unless and until Self and Also Self agree to void this agreement and reassign said rights to another party in a new agreement.
4. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS: This agreement contains the entire agreement between the parties hereto. No waiver, alteration, or modification of any of the provisions of this agreement shall be binding unless in writing and signed by both of the parties hereto. This agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of the parties hereto, their legal representatives, successors and assigns. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed under the laws of the state of Minnesota. In the event of any litigation arising out of this Agreement, including but not limited to appellate proceedings, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, as outrageous as those may be.
Please remove the infringing content from your site, even if the offending party is an extra-dimensional supernatural mutant, as per agreement.
By the way, VK still has not removed the content.
This is exactly why I decided to create the official PDF of the book, and offer it for sale for the low, low price of $9.99 (cheap). This is really the only way to combat piracy… offer the content in a legitimate way for a reasonable price so people who understand why it’s important to support creators by buying their works have a way to do just that. You will always have unscrupulous people out there who will take something without paying for it, but there are also honest people who won’t and are happy to buy a copy if you just give them a way to do so.
I’ve sold a lot of PDF copies already, so as far as I am concerned the results are positive. Thank you if you are one of those who purchased the digital version. I do wish sites like VK would respect the copyrights of creators, and put the onus on the UPLOADERS to prove they own the copyrights, though. It’s tough enough to limit the availability of pirated content when it’s available through shady websites, let alone ones who are high profile and supposed to be legitimate.
674 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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