Authors band together to attack pirate e-book site

Here’s something I just became aware of on Facebook. A number of authors are banding together to fight a popular e-book piracy site based in Canada. Author Stephen L. Wilson has been posting information to his blog, and to a Facebook community formed to coordinate efforts.

The pirate site is called “The Ultimate Ebook Library,” which has a Facebook community of its own where it insists that it is “not doing anything illegal under US or Canadian law.” However, the site offers thousands of e-books available for one-click EPUB download, so that must be one of those creative definitions of “not doing anything illegal” that you hear about these days.

Wilson claims almost 300 members on his anti-piracy team so far, and has succeeded in getting several sources of funding cut off to the site, including Amazon affiliate links. On its Facebook community, TUEBL claims that it was using the Amazon affiliate credit to buy books and send them to South America.

This war on TUEBL is really sad, because the people that are being harmed is not us. It’s almost as if the publishers and authors have decided "if we can’t get our way, we are going to make everyone else pay for it". There are now going to be poor children who are not going to be getting new books. Yet TUEBL will live on.

I rather wonder about that. It might be fashionable for US media organizations to insist Canada is a haven of piracy on their annual Special 301 list of copyright violating countries, but from what I gather Canada actually has copyright laws almost as strict as the US. I find it hard to imagine that this site will continue to exist for very long with the pressure that hundreds of authors and readers can bring to bear. At the very least, I’d surely expect its administrator (who apparently posts to Facebook under his real name) will be charged with copyright violations ere long.

I really do have to shake my head at all this. It’s really amazing how self-serving some of these rationales can be for providing unauthorized, unpaid access to other people’s work. I have little doubt the Amazon affiliate links did sell a lot of books, but the pirates don’t get to decide that someone else’s work can be available for free on-line—that’s up to the people who wrote and published that work. Good luck to the authors in getting this site taken down.

71 Comments on Authors band together to attack pirate e-book site

  1. I am a member of another author group fighting pirates.

    This group is currently going after this Facebook page, and Facebook keeps telling those whose books are being stolen that TUEBEL isn’t doing anything illegal when it obviously is.

    Facebook, like eBay which won’t let authors complain when their books are ripped off, is making a ton of money on these sites.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of corporate piracy.

  2. Canada does, indeed, have strict copyright laws. Likely every bit as strong as the U.S., if not more so. I do not know what all of them are, but this looks like piracy to me.

    And Facebook is an American company, not Canadian, so they also have a responsibility here.

  3. Children of any income have no business reading my erotica that was posted on there. It doesn’t take much brain cells to realize he’s not offering my book to poor children.

    However, after sending a DMCA letter, my book was removed from the site. I will continue to help other authors fight to have their books removed.

    Thanks for the article!

    Gracen Miller

  4. Lots of vacuous claims but no evidence whatsoever. A lot of fuss over nothing. One would think writers had better things to do, like write.

  5. Anita Stewart // July 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm //

    Canada does have copyright laws, that do not allow for this kind of violation and infringement. He is breaking Canadian law, no matter what he says, and so are all the participants on that site. If you want verification check out the Department of Justice website:
    He’s violating at least two sections of out copyright infringe laws.

  6. I wonder if Shaw Communications knows that one of its employees is knowingly violating copyright law.

    And it’s clear from Travis McCrea’s writings that he knows he is violating copyright law, but believes that “bringing joy to people” in the form of free books is worth mooching off hardworking authors.

    If writers can’t make any money off their books, Howard, I’d suggest they have nothing better to do at all than to get rid of the leeches so they can get back to actually supporting their families.

  7. Howard, lots of writers are finding their books on this site being given away for free. I don’t call that nothing.

    Frankly, writers would prefer to be writing, but, if we don’t defend our copyright, no one will, and we’ll be completely screwed.

    A few weeks ago, one of the smaller pirate sites went up for sale. The owner claimed the site was making $60,000 in revenue a month. It sold for $2 million. Who says crime doesn’t pay?

  8. Vacuos claims. No evidence. Howard, you’re obviously not a writer. First: There is a ton of evidence. Dozens of writers have already found their books on this site for free when they haven’t authorized it.

    Second: Authors have MANY more things to do than just write. We have to promote our work, we have to edit our work, we have to keep abreast of the industry we work in, and we have to keep our work profitable. We have to make sure theives aren’t stealing our hard work and makign their own profit on it while claiming to be donating it to charity (a charity which no evidence can be found to prove its existence). All you’re doing is making our case for us, because you’re giving us a platform to counter your vacuous claims.

  9. The person running that site is clearly an idiot, but at least he was directing people to the legit purchase of the books (with amazon links.) That’s as gentlemanly of a ‘pirate’ as you’ll find. I’m not saying that makes it ok, but that’s the reality. Getting panties twisted in a knot over sites like this just turns into a game of whack’a’mole. And after you’ve whacked enough moles, the only prize will be all the ‘pirate’ traffic getting redirected to russian e-commerce sites.

  10. It’s so easy for non-authors to brush sites like Tuebl off as inoffensive bits of fun. Tell you what — I’ll come to your place of work and grab a few dollars from *you,* now and then. Surely you won’t mind, after all, it’s nothing to get worked up over. It’s only money.

  11. Chris,

    Thank you for your support! Three days ago (Sunday) the TUEBL site was brought to my attention by a frustrated author who knew about difficulties authors and publishers were having with this site. I visited their FB site, and was disgusted with the arrogant, condescending and generally dismissive behavior of the administrators of the group, as well of some of their more ardent supporters. It didn’t take long to realize that authors were not being treated fairly, and the people at this site were taking much delight in thumbing their noses at people who were struggling and working hard for our craft. To them, we had no right to complain. The prevailing attitude was one that spoke to the notion that since they could take copyrighted material for free, without consent or knowledge of the authors, they should. After all, that was the sign of the times. Over and over it is mentioned that the business model of how eBooks are sold needs to be changed. As an indie author and publisher myself, I am appalled and offended to hear that there are people out there who ignore the hard efforts we make to establish channels of distribution for our work, and have no understanding of the rights of being able to do so. Fortunately international, Canadian, and United States law state otherwise. Our campaign, entering its third day, has garnered much appreciation and effort on the part of authors and publishers. We are now up to 320 members, and gaining fast. This dedicated, hard working group has been successfully protesting this unlawful practice. They truly are an amazing group worthy of the utmost admiration. Please visit the website, which is my blog, for more information. Thank you for your support.

    Stephen L. Wilson

  12. No evidence, Howard? You go to the site (which I intentionally didn’t link here but is linked from its Facebook page). You click on a book. You click on “Download EPUB”. The book ends up on your hard drive. How is that no evidence?

  13. Jason Barnes // July 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm //

    Why is Facebook allowing this? Once it was pointed out to Facebook, FB became an enabling and participating infringer, and itself became legally liable.

  14. Jason Barnes // July 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm //

    I think we’ll see the problem diminishing when pirates and their helpers (like Facebook or Google) see the inside of prison cells.

  15. Jason Barnes // July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm //

    Marilynn Byerly says:
    July 25, 2012 at 10:24 am
    … This group is currently going after this Facebook page, and Facebook keeps telling those whose books are being stolen that TUEBEL isn’t doing anything illegal when it obviously is.
    Facebook, like eBay which won’t let authors complain when their books are ripped off, is making a ton of money on these sites.
    Time for criminal copyright infringement charges against Facebook and its infamously arrogant founder. Facebook’s non-action makes it a co-conspirator in piracy.

  16. So – as usual we have the usual candidates lined up and outraged. Yet no one has a single scintilla of solid reliable evidence that there are any more than a handful of actual downloads taking place. The existence of a pirate site is not proof or evidence of ANYthing. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good opportunity to start the piracy bandwagon again oh no. Next we’ll have someone pointing out the download count on the pirate site ! wow ….. criminals wouldn’t lie would they ??
    Rumours of site sales and claims of the downloads is all part of the standard fare coughed up by pirates to try to persuade people that millions are downloading and advertises should pay them and more people should also download. It is oh so familiar and transparent and tired.
    I don’t believe a word of all of this nonsense. I don’t believe that there is a tiny fraction of the claimed downloading going on and this is all part of the ongoing campaign by the publishing industry to hype this topic in order to get more draconian laws and more draconian copyright. All actions that will drive more and more people to download.


  17. Howard, most authors would be pathetically grateful if the current copyright laws were respected. Don’t see a boogeyman where there is none.

    Here is the sale info on the site I mentioned.

    This so-called search engine drives traffic to the pirate sites.

    Also, need I mention how much loot they confiscated from Megaupload.

    Here’s a link in case you have forgotten.

  18. Binko Barnes // July 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm //

    Marilynn, nobody but a lawyer could possibly have “respect” for our current morass of copyright laws.

    Also, what “loot” was confiscated from Megaupload? Do you mean all the digital Ones and Zeros stored on their servers?

  19. No, Binko, I mean the 17 million dollars in Megaload’s owners’ assets that were seized in the first raid. These assets included a fleet of expensive sports cars and other toys.

    You really should read the Wikipedia article I linked to for the details.

    As to ebookee, the information about the site’s income is fairly extensive and detailed since they were selling the site. Check out that information, as well, to see why it was a bargain to buy at 2 million dollars if you have the moral core of the average burglar.

    As to copyright, even an older child can understand the basics. An ebook is property which belongs to the person who wrote the book. That means you can read it if you pay for that right in the same way you buy a ticket to see a movie, but you can’t sell the ebook to someone else and you can’t give it away by putting it on the Internet or someone else’s computer.

    If everyone agreed to follow those simple rules, most casual piracy would disappear.

  20. Binko Barnes // July 26, 2012 at 1:24 am //

    Marilynn, I’m sorry to say that you have the most bizarre notion of copyright of any person I’ve ever encountered.

    An ebook is property? And these ebooks belong to the person who wrote the words? So hundreds of different authors own little bits of my hard drive?

    Copyright has absolutely nothing to do with defining ownership. Authors don’t own the words they write once they publish them. They simply enjoy a limited monopoly over the creation and sale of copies of the work. It’s a copy right.

  21. So there we have it. The best that anyone can offer is third party reports of claims or rumours of files being downloadable …. Not a single piece of evidence anywhere substantiating the claims a)That eBooks are actually being downloaded or b) That significant numbers are being downloaded.
    Isn’t it amazing that so many URLs can be bandied around, so many references, so many claims … yet not one, not ONE substantiated evidence of actual numbers of actual downloads.

    The reason is because NO ONE wants anyone else to know.

    The DoJ doesn’t want people to know otherwise their enormous relative commitment of resources to this campaign, the result of huge lobbying by the Publishing industry, would be exposed and vilified.

    The Publishers don’t want anyone to know because they know well that the actual amount of illegal downloading is a minute and infinitesimal fraction of the grotesquely inflated numbers they claim in their campaign to beat down ordinary users with the copyright hammers.

    The Pirates don’t want anyone to know because they generate huge income from creating a false impression that they are bringing in enormous numbers of site visitors and downloads, when the truth is they are involved in a criminal online syndicate to ‘invent’ vast numbers of site visitors through the use of all kinds of fake links, fake web sites, fake articles, fake email and web site fishing, bot nets and other devices.

    Anyone who invests some quality time researching the body of ‘evidence’ offered by the Publishing and Media industry as ‘proof’ of illegal downloads will find that when they read the small print of all of their reports, studies, analysis, surveys etc. that they are all carried out by their own paid companies, they are all based on extrapolations, guess work and horrendously biased ‘algorithms’.

    The few pieces of truly independent studies that have been carried out have all rubbished the industry claims, and have demonstrated that those who do illegally download actually buy more, and that the actual number of downloads is orders of magnitude less than the industry claims and only a tiny fraction of those downloads represent loss of sales.

    The truth is that the whole Illegal downloading and pirating uber-controversy is a half baked conspiracy theory borne of mutual convenience.

    Pirate sites should be closed – that is certain. NOT because they are doing any serious damage to writers or musicians – but because they are part of organised crime generating money from fraudulent activity.

    Chris: No offence but your comment above demonstrates only ONE thing. That an eBook CAN be downloaded. It offers no evidence whatsoever of the numbers involved, who is downloading, if they are legitimate users/readers or phantom ‘users'; part of the global pirate network I mention above often backed by organised crime.The whole thing is so full of holes the size of the grand canyon it would be comical if it were not being taken so seriously by the authorities and gullible writers.

  22. Howard and Binko, what has happened to you two? You used to be fun to debate.

    Now you both sit in a corner, stick your fingers in your ears, and go “la, la, la” while you repeat drivel that has nothing to do with the conversation you refuse to hear.

    You ask for proof of numbers, I give it, then you claim the numbers don’t matter, piracy doesn’t matter, and copyright doesn’t matter.

    Well, they do, and just because you can’t acknowledge the facts on the subject won’t change that.

  23. Hunter F. Thompsons // July 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm //

    OMG I just trailed where Howard lives & am going there tomorrow.

  24. Binko Barnes // July 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm //

    So-called “Piracy” doesn’t matter. It’s a monumentally overblown non-issue that is used to justify a heavy-handed and oppressive expansion of law enforcement.

    Even the music industry realized this ages ago. Music sold online is almost entirely DRM free.

    Make a positive effort to connect with your fans, set your prices low enough, provide a high quality and easy to use service and you will sell plenty of digital goods.

    Copyright matters very much. Just not in the way that you think. It has been warped and extended so much that it does nothing in it’s current state to serve the public good. It’s little more than a tool for maximizing corporate profits.

  25. Binko, authors and publishers get rid of DRM. The book gets stolen and downloaded by thousands upon thousands. They lower the price a ridiculous amount. The book gets stolen and downloaded by thousands upon thousands.

    They put it out in every possible format and offer it worldwide in English. The book gets stolen and downloaded by thousands upon thousands.

    The book author and publisher gives all the profits to Haitian children charities. The book gets stolen and downloaded by thousands upon thousands.

    Authors work their butts off and spend a ton of money to get fans, offer free stuff, and are very accessible to their fans. The book gets stolen and downloaded by thousands upon thousands. Some of those fans have had the audacity to complain to the author when the book they downloaded from a pirate site had a virus attached. Yes, really.

    All the anecdotal evidence I and any other author has had talking to other authors suggests that sales numbers, even for very successful authors, has plummeted in recent years despite the growth of ebooks. The biggest demand for new books seems to be on the pirate sites, not the legal sites.

    Sure, that’s anecdotal, but real numbers are impossible to get. Even that so-called study that says pirates buy as many books as they steal depended on a bunch of thieves telling the truth. Yeah, right. They’ve used that particular bit of nonsense to justify what they do for years.

    Maybe, copyright and piracy don’t matter to you, but most authors and people in publishing do care, and we’re worried about the financial viability of the business if we don’t fight pirates.

    Enjoy your conspiracy theories while the rest of us fight for our financial and career lives against a bunch of opportunists and jerks.

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