What To Do If Your Self-Published Novel Is Pirated Online

Writer’s Relief
3 min readMar 2, 2018

It’s a scary-but-true fact of life for self-published authors: eBook piracy is rampant. Anyone with basic programming knowledge can strip away DRM, the control technology which supposedly restricts the ability to reproduce or share an eBook. Then any thief can offer up exact reproductions for sale, or, more commonly, free downloads.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Self-Published Book Is Pirated Online

We’re not attorneys, so we cannot offer legal advice. Contact an attorney with publishing industry experience if you have any concerns. However, you may find these tips helpful:

Know Your Copyright

When you create and publish a work, you have an inherent copyright in that property. As the copyright holder, you have the right to license, sell, distribute, and profit from your own work. A pirate who offers your eBook up for free is giving away stolen property.

You can solidify your copyright claim by registering with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registering gives you proof of ownership and offers you financial remedies that wouldn’t otherwise be available if your work is infringed.

However, you must have your work registered before an infringement occurs. So it’s always smart to register your self-published eBook with the U.S. Copyright Office before you publish.

Determine If Your Book Has Been Pirated

An internet search of your author name and the book title will show you where your book is popping up. You’ll expect to see your own website, eBook vendors such as Amazon, iBooks, and Google Play, the sites of bloggers you’ve interviewed with, and eBook advertising sites you’re working with. But if you see unfamiliar urls, many of them will likely be the result of eBook piracy.

IMPORTANT: DON’T CLICK ON ANY OF THE HOTLINKS! Many pirates use the lure of stolen eBooks to get you to click a link that will install malware, spyware, or viruses onto your computer, or for credit card fraud.

If you don’t want to perform a daily search for eBook piracy, consider subscribing to MUSO, which will keep you informed by sending alerts of possible stolen eBooks.

Writer’s Relief

Author’s Submission Service Est. 1994. We help authors reach their publishing goals with targeted submissions to literary agents and editors.