I’m vain enough to set up a Google alert for myself. I’m now glad I do. What a shock two days ago when I came across the whole of my book digitized and displayed on the Scribid site.
I immediately contacted my publisher and the Society of Authors. Then I whinged to several of my social networking contacts. Everybody had heard it all before. It wasn’t news.
The publisher is asking them to take it down and the Society of Authors says that this site is quite good at responding to take-down requests. My publisher thinks they will just put it back up again.
I actually believe the person who posted the book is a little naïve and doesn’t actually know she is breaking the law. In some ways it’s very flattering: she thought my book was so good she wanted to share it with everyone. It is a poor quality scan and the pages load very slowly. I’m guessing that if anyone really wants to read my book, they’ll go out and buy it. “Exactly,” said my publisher when I shared that with her. So, no such thing as bad publicity.
However, what has happened is actually strictly illegal and in my opinion this site that encourages such rampant breaking of copyright law should be taken down. The ISP should be concerned. Think what happens when people are caught filming inside a cinema. They often get away with it, but when they are caught, punishment is severe.
One problem is that we have had the whole file-sharing precedent which rocked the music industry. It is recovering a little, and control is getting back into the hands of the recording companies. It does still not always favour the musicians.
Writers now also face a dilemma about genuine e-publishing. It is extremely easy to publish straight to Kindle. What a fantastic thing to do with your entire collection of out of print titles. Getting paid is a different matter. No UK platform. You need a US bank account and Amazon does not seem to appreciate that there is a tax agreement between the US and the UK.
Another model would be providing content for free and financing through advertising. Google-Adsense is almost ethical in that the advertising tends to match the projects and the advertisers do not have an input into your content. If you go to advertisers direct, you can be choosy about who advertises with you. You can refuse to be dictated to. However, if you want to earn enough you may be forced to compromise.
So, whilst we’re entering a new age with many exciting possibilities, there are plenty of dangers, too.