|Storytelling by Tumisu from Pixabay|
At least twice a week, often more, I receive a Google Alert about the availability of one of my books, most recently titles in the Anita Ray series. Below the title might appear a web address that is unrecognizable (numitas.ga; gadsnela.cf; zilibega.gq, and more of the same) or the name of the supposed website that holds the book or even the edition. Apparently, there is a French edition of some of my books. I've had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these Alerts, and I ignore them.
More recently I've been learning about piracy sites that hold copies for sale or loan. Open Library is one, and Kiss Library is another. I've sent take-down letters to the first one, and when I checked back, they had complied. When I returned later, some of the books were back up as eBook loans.
The first time I came across a piracy site and found my books there I was understandably upset. When I wracked my brain for how to counter this, I got a headache. Now, when I read threads with posts from writers who've just discovered this worm in the book pages, I recall how I felt but rarely engage.
Most of the Google Alerts are, in my view, forwarding an effort to install malware on my computer. If out of curiosity I click on any of the fields, I'm sure I'll go to a nonsense page and, frustrated, log off, but by then it will be too late. The worm will be inside my computer. If I actually do reach a site with a pdf of one of my books, I expect it will be riddled with errors from some auto-correcting program, perhaps missing chapters, and be overall unreadable. Any reader who goes this route in getting free novels deserves what they get--mostly nothing.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately because of the failure of the powers-that-be, mostly Congress, to take any action to protect the work of writers (and other creative workers). But I'm no longer surprised, not because they're incompetent (which may be true but is not the issue here) but because as lawyers (and so many of them have law degrees) they learned early on that the intent of the founding fathers was to keep the stream of knowledge, books, etc., flowing into the United States. The founding fathers believed that a new country desperately needed to have new ideas and ways of doing things accessible to the young citizenry. Hence, in the beginning, only books produced in the US had copyright protection, and even that was weak. Anything published overseas (with rare exceptions) could not be copyrighted in the US.
This may be the thinking (or lack thereof) behind the failure to regulate early on the social media sector before each company/platform became such a behemoth that it may now seem un-regulateable.
Those who write the law to protect writers and others are by training predisposed to doing as little as possible, believing it is better to have ideas flow freely, disseminated widely, than prevent citizens from having access to them in order to benefit one person, the creator of those ideas. The mindset of Congress does not favor the creator.
I don't know what can be done about this, but like most things, a growing rejection of the current thinking in Congress on these issues may wake up individual senators and representatives to eventually take action. But I'm not holding my breath.