The Authors Guild has been working with legislators and private companies for years to develop a more comprehensive solution to Internet piracy. We advocate a balanced approach that protects the creative marketplace without standing in the way of digital innovation. But a real solution appears to be further off than we’d wish. The 1998 passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was a wobbly start — although it gave piracy victims some recourse, it lacked technological sophistication. If your work is being distributed without authorization, you can send a DMCA takedown notice to the pirate site’s webhosting service. It doesn’t always work, but it’s better than nothing. The Guild’s Legal Services Department can walk you through the process of sending one, and will intervene on your behalf if necessary.
More recent bills aimed at reducing piracy, such as 2012’s SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protect IP Act), were similarly flawed in their understanding of the tech sector’s needs, and they failed—largely for that reason—after the Internet community launched an effective protest. Meanwhile, however, search engines and Internet service providers are raking in big profits from linking to and hosting pirate sites, and DMCA takedowns are doing little to stop them. A stop-gap measure launched in early 2013 called the Copyright Alert System is doing even less; and the pirates certainly aren’t policing themselves. Although Google, for one, has promised to demote known pirates in its search rankings, the promise has proven empty. In 2014, an international recording industry group sent its 100 millionth piracy notice to Google, resulting in no noticeable demotion of pirate sites in search results.
Intellectual property theft is not new, but the advent of digital media has made it more pervasive. On this page you’ll see what we’re doing to lessen its impact on authors.