Toolbox 22: What do you when your work is pirated?

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


 A long time ago I was told that one excellent use of Google Alerts was to check up on what was happening with published projects. When I created my alert, I used the work’s title and my by-line. On the weekend, I received an alert on “Dragon Eye”.

When I got the alert my work was on a reseller’s page, I wasn’t that worried. Alerts have popped up before with only some of the key words. So I’ve seen projects with dragon + Anna in it, but they were never mine.

Not so this time. Dragon Eye is available on Wattpad. It’s free and someone was selling my short for $6 USD. Wow!

I was upset that someone was using me to rip off readers.

Anyway I went to the sight and this one had this lovely DMCA form to fill out.

That was the beginning of my happy ending. They must have had an auto-response set up because my story was down within seconds. And I received an email telling me what they would do on their end:

  • They warned me that the work may be down, but it may still come up on a search until the delete rippled through the web.
  • The person who uploaded the book has been suspended (if I’m proved correct they will reroute all payments received to me).
  • They admitted that they do their best to avoid copyright complaints and have set this system up to prevent more.
  • They left me with contact info, including their physical address.

So this post is about being prepared. Create an alert for each work out there, follow-up on them; and when the worst happens, look for a DMCA page or contact DMCA directly.

If you have anything to add about pirates, etc. Feel free to comment below. Love to hear from you.

45 responses to “Toolbox 22: What do you when your work is pirated?

  1. I’ve noticed most of the sites offering pirate copies of my books are scammers, hoping to harvest user information for no doubt nefarious purposes – serves them right!

  2. Glad it worked out well for you, Anna!

  3. Ronel Janse van Vuuren

    Timely post! I’ve had “Set up Google Alerts” on my to-do list for months… maybe I’ll get to it now. I’m glad it worked out painlessly — I’ve heard many horror stories.

    Ronel visiting on Author Toolbox day Let’s Get Visual

  4. Excellent advice Anna. Chasing piracy is such a nuisance and waste of our time, but such is the world we live in today.

  5. Wow! Just wow! These pirates need to walk the plank. Happy Hop day Anna 😊

  6. Loni Townsend

    Usually I find the opposite direction: my book that costs money is listed as “free”. Though like Tony said, most of those that I investigated are actually scams.

  7. I can’t set alerts for all of DLP’s books but i do tell my authors to set them up. That is good to know that Wattpad is so responsive – and responsible.

  8. It is so sad that authors have to worry about this. I’m glad there is so much support though between those that are in this field!

  9. AuthorSarahKrewis

    I’m curious, do you have a step by step on how to do this? Sadly, I’m a step by step learner. I’m so glad things were able to work out in your favor. I hate that as authors we even have to stress over this.

    • Simply,

      Create a Google Alert for each published work.

      When you get an email (from Google Alert) stating something looks suspicious, check it out. Make sure it’s your work.

      If the work is yours and the site doesn’t have permission to sell your work, go to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act site and contact someone there. They can help with the rest.

  10. Back in the day, I set up Google alerts on my works too, but I became annoyed at receiving the alerts, but not having anything to do with my book titles. So I deleted the alerts. Guess I’d better put them back up again. Thanks for the tip on DMCA. I wasn’t aware of this fabulous service!
    JQ Rose

  11. Oh, the never ending piracy or our work. I don’t understand thieves. How do they sleep at night?
    Susan Says

  12. It’s good to hear that WattPad are so proactive, and that your story has a happy ending.

  13. I feel like that’s an often overlooked possibility. We are all used to something that’s already for sale being protected, but something that’s “free” and “public” also has rights.
    Glad you were able to resolve it so quickly.
    Just think, if the person who did it spent the same amount of time writing their own material, they would probably have a fair quantity of content that they would be able to share or sell forever more.

  14. That sucks that you got pirated but I’m glad you were able to get it resolved so quickly.

  15. Pirating is getting to be a bigger deal and it sucks. I’m glad it worked for you. Some are not so easy to navigate and the DMCA form link is an infinite loop (have dealt with that). I got that service Blasty, but not sure how much it truly helps. Never tried setting up a Google Alert.

  16. That’s about as happy an ending to a piracy story as I’ve ever heard! And go Google Alerts for helping you find out! @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

  17. OMG, Anna! You are brilliant. Bookmarking. 🙂

  18. Sorry this happened to you. Thanks so much for sharing all the info on takedowns.

  19. That is a story with a happy ending. I like those, as we just suffered through one last night. But, more about that later.

    So, do I understand it correctly that the reseller (the offenders) sent you all that info about having taken your work down and reimbursing you? Or was that Google Alerts?

    Here’s my addition on pirates – during our eight years of sailing in the Caribbean and South Pacific, the most dangerous area was off the coast of Venezuela. Luckily, we never encountered any ourselves (but heard stories about pirates between Grenada and Trinidad), despite some scary moments of approaching engines in the middle of the night. Fishermen!

    • After your pirates, mine see a little mild. hehehe

      It was the reseller that responded. It must have happened before because the response was completely automated. Lucky me!

  20. Victoria Marie Lees

    Oh my gosh, Anna! That’s terrible. I’ve never heard of DMCA and went to their site. Do you have the free one or the $10 a month protection plan? Good thing you have it. All best to you!

    • I use their info; however, if I ever needed them to take action on my behalf, I would pay whatever the subscription costs were per month. (Today, I’m not a big seller–hehehe)

  21. Pirates suck! The only thing we can really do is send a DMCA. I had Google Alerts set up for my name, but I just added each of my titles. Thanks for sharing your story!

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