Dear Pirate Site Operator: No, I Did Not Give You Permission

So there has been a lot of hullaboo about the site Ebook Bike and its operator Travis McCrea. In case you haven’t been following the blowout, EBook Bike allows people to upload content to the site, which McCrea does not moderate (as you can see in his statement here):

McCrea seems to be part of the Sharing Community, which believes they have a moral obligation to share digital content. As a matter of fact, in 2016 McCrea was the leader of a minor party called the Pirate Party of Canada.

One might suggest if you didn’t want to be labeled as a pirate, you might choose a different name for your political party.

The only statement I can find on the site itself is a generic one: Ebook Bike is about providing a new life to reading, ensuring every person around the world has the best access to the best books.

Reports that the DMCA page/link isn’t working on the site sent me looking for it–I couldn’t find it at all. I’m also hearing reports that the site collects IP addresses of those who use the DMCA form and then block them from accessing the site, making it difficult to see that no one is complying with takedown notices.

I searched the site and didn’t find any of my own titles, but another site that has people talking, oregano.com, does have some of my books listed without my permission.

EDIT: As of today, I’m told that the Ebook Bike site is down. You can celebrate that as a victory, if you like, but I believe it will re-appear under another name in the not-too-distant future. And it is just one of hundreds of similar sites.

So I think it’s time to repost my thoughts on this: I ask that you check out my posts Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me and Dear Broke Reader and Your Sense of Entitlement (Part 2).

It’s also worth checking out this article by The Guardian, discussing the backlash against authors who fought to get their books removed from the now-defunct OceansofPDF. Um, we’re not the bad guys here. For the most part, we write our books in good faith, paying developmental and copyeditors, formatters, and cover artists along the way. We pay for book tours and advertising. I bring this up because the costs of bringing a digital book to market are not ‘zero’, as some people seem to think. But beyond that. I don’t think it’s wrong for us as creators to expect to be paid for our art.

And I do think it’s wrong for someone to upload our works to sites that allow thousands of downloads without our permission–or any compensation.

Believe me, I’ve heard all the arguments. They are discussed in greater detail in the Broke Reader posts. What it boils down to is that the majority of people who feel entitled to works without paying for them do NOT fall into categories of “but I can only get this particular story in this fashion.” Yes, there are pockets of people here and there without access to affordable books on a large scale, but that’s not representative of the average pirate/torrent user. The average user of these sites wants a particular title RIGHT NOW and doesn’t want to wait for a sale or look for it at the library. That’s what I mean by a sense of entitlement.

But I will say this: if you want to continue to get quality content, then pay the creator their due. Otherwise, instead of a Picasso or Monet, you’ll have to be satisfied with a paint-by-numbers or macaroni art by a kindergartner.

Someone told me in one of the previous posts that if I was any good at writing, I would be able to absorb the costs of piracy. Sweet pea, in order to be able to absorb the costs of piracy, you have to sell books on the scale of Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King. And believe me, I’d hazard a guess none of them are happy about piracy and illegal downloads.

I’m not a Nora Roberts, but I’ve been known to tell a story people enjoy reading. I had to write a pitch letter recently, and was surprised to learn I had more street cred than I’d realized. I’ve been publishing M/M romance since 2010. The majority of my titles are through Dreamspinner Press, though I have self-published as well. All told, I have a total of 16 published stories at this time and am a PAN member of the RWA.

I was a finalist in the 2013, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards. The Boys of Summer won Best M/M Romance in the 2013 Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Awards. The Sixth Sense series was voted 2nd place in the 2014 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Mystery series, and 3rd place in the 2105 PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards for Best M/M Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series.

Fool’s Gold was voted best M/M Romance in 2016 by the PGR Reviewer’s Choice Awards. I was also voted one of the top ten M/M romance authors in 2016 by Gay Book Reviews.

I’m not saying this to brag. Lord, if you knew me, you’d know how much I’m squirming listing those achievements (and resisting mightily the urge to claim they are ‘only’ genre recognition and awards). What I’m trying to say is that, given the argument above, I’m not such a shabby writer that I deserve to be pirated to the extent that I can actually lose money on publishing a story.

But you know what? No one does. No author, no artist, no musician, no photographer–hell, not even your kindergartner putting his or her macaroni art up on your fridge.

2 thoughts on “Dear Pirate Site Operator: No, I Did Not Give You Permission

    • I’m not entirely sure he is using our IP addresses–though I suspect giving the site that data allows them to block us from future searches. But he is definitely allowing copyrighted material to be both uploaded and downloaded illegally.

      I wish I could that his site is the only one, but it’s one of thousands. I’ve used Blasty in the past to remove said links from search engines so that people can’t find them. It’s not the same as taking the material off the site, but if places like Ebook Bike are ignoring that request, then it’s better than nothing. You can also report the copyright violation to Google directly–it’s time consuming however. I used to do that every couple of weeks. Sounds like I need to do *something* again.

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