Online piracy is a major factor contributing to the decline of authors’ income. Each year, the publishing industry loses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales to piracy—and with each lost sale, authors lose royalty income. There is a clear correlation between the decline in income from writing and the exponential growth of online pirate channels dedicated to distributing and selling illegal ebook copies. The stakes are even higher for self-published authors, who primarily or exclusively distribute their works online.
The Authors Guild believes that finding a robust solution to online ebook piracy is a pressing need for the survival of authorship as a profession, and for the flourishing of a diverse and vibrant literary culture. To address these challenges, the Authors Guild has been active on the following fronts:
Support for Stronger Laws and Enforcement
- We lobby for stronger laws and legislative reforms to fight piracy. For years, we have pushed for reforms to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to require internet platforms and services to find, take down, and keep down pirated content. In June 2020, we testified before the Senate Judiciary Intellectual Property Subcommittee about the harmful effects of piracy on authors, and submitted a list of suggested changes to the DMCA. For the Copyright Office’s study (culminating in its Section 512 Report), we submitted written comments and participated in their roundtables.
- We support expanding the role of federal law enforcement agencies in fighting criminal copyright infringement, and the appropriation of financial resources specifically for investigating and prosecuting criminal book piracy networks.
- We take part in civil litigation against high-profile pirate networks. We facilitated the filing of a lawsuit against Kiss Library, a criminal pirate network that sells ebooks through websites designed to look like legitimate e-bookstores, resulting in the site’s closure and the seizure of its assets.
Escalating Complaints to Internet Platforms and Services
- We escalate complaints about piracy groups and websites to the legal departments of search engines, social media sites, and other online platforms when they fail to remove or disable access to infringing materials or close down pirate and repeat-infringer accounts.
Author Education and Industry Outreach
- We host webinars and publish blog posts about developments in piracy and what authors can do to protect themselves. We frequently work with other writer organizations, trade groups, and publishers to develop strategies and solutions.