Milestone! I’ve been pirated!

In searching for the abstract of my book, I found more than I expected: What appeared to be a pirated PDF copy of the book in its entirety. What’s worse is that it appeared #1 in Google’s search. Numbers 2 and 3 were various pages on my site, #4 was my Wikipedia profile page, #5 was O’Reilly’s page, and #6 was Amazon’s page. So it’s easier to download a pirated copy of my book than it is to buy it. (It’s $2.03 at Amazon right now. Maybe I should buy some copies.)

I’m having trouble deciding whether that bothers me. The likelihood of me ever making another 25 cents off that book is slim. There was some talk at one time of releasing the book under some kind of Creative Commons license, but I never received the paperwork so I guess they changed their mind. As far as I know, it’s still under copyright.

And the copyright doesn’t belong to me, so ultimately it’s not up to me. I wrote it, but O’Reilly owns the copyright. So I e-mailed O’Reilly to ask them if they care.

And I received a response within 15 minutes, which sounds like a yes to me.

On one level I’m flattered. Someone thought it was worth the time and effort to scan the book in and make a PDF out of it. That’s less effort than I put into writing a single chapter of it, but it might have taken an hour to do. Possibly more, if they used a flatbed scanner. Nobody would spend an hour–or however long it took–scanning a book they didn’t like.

And part of me wonders if I should have grabbed a copy of it for myself before sending off that message. I don’t have a copy of it in PDF. I may not even have a copy of what went to press in Word format. I’m not sure I’m entitled to it, but if anyone is, it would be me. But I didn’t, so that point is moot. And as easy as it is to embed malware in a PDF, I don’t think downloading illicit copies of books is a good idea, even if you’re the author.

Does it matter anymore? Hard to say. Windows 9x is dead, and it’s been dead to me a lot longer than it’s been dead to the marketplace. Current and recent editions of Windows are more like OS/2 under the hood than they’re like Windows 9x. There’s not much in that book that works on current versions of Windows. When I was writing the proposal, I offered to write about Windows NT instead–much of which would remain relevant today–but the decision-makers opted for a Windows 9x book, so that’s what I wrote.

Could I write on the same topic for Windows 8 and make it relevant and useful? Sure. Do I plan to? No.

Actually, this isn’t the first time I’ve been pirated. I’ve found illicit copies of three articles I wrote in the 1990s, too. But considering I wasn’t paid for two of those three things in the first place, one was published completely without my consent, and the two publishers are defunct, I didn’t do anything about that.

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5 thoughts on “Milestone! I’ve been pirated!

  • August 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I may have to frame my copy in a shadow box with a Win95 CD…

  • August 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I was pretty crushed the first time I found links to pirated copies of Commodork on Google. When I started selling the book in PDF form, I added a forward that included my e-mail and Paypal address and asked people to send me a few bucks if they read and liked it. I figure anyone who downloads the book and doesn’t read that far into it (page 2) wasn’t going to buy or read my book anyway. If someone isn’t willing to pony up half the cost of a venti Starbucks coffee for my book … what else can you do, right?

    • August 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      I think it would have bothered me a whole lot more if it had happened in 2000 or 2001. And I guess going over to Amazon and seeing what used copies sell for picked me up a little bit, too. When I looked at other books published around the same time as mine, they were selling for a penny. Not that $2 is much, but now that Goodwill has decided it wants to be the country’s largest used bookseller, it’s difficult for any used book to stay above the $2 price point for long.

  • August 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    A bit of a shock the other day whilst looking for some older SciFi to not just see Alibris listed as a seller on Amazon, but the Goodwill stores.

    • August 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      I think Amazon owns Alibris now and is operating it as a subsidiary.

      As for Goodwill, yeah, and they’re wreaking havoc on independent used booksellers, many of which sell on Amazon to supplement their sales by other means. They can’t compete with Goodwill since they get all their stuff for free. I don’t know if they’ve actually put anyone out of business by deflating the price of books, but they’ve certainly hurt a lot of bottom lines. For a place that constantly advertises being a store with a conscience, I don’t think it’s a good thing to be doing. It gives people one less career option in a sour economy.

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