What should you do if you find one of your titles available for free download on an illegal torrenting site?
Before you call in the ebook police, do some investigation. In many cases, the site does not actually have your book. The owner of the site has scraped a vendor site like Amazon to get the details for your title, to then advertise it on their own site.
Why would anyone go to the trouble of advertising an ebook that they do not actually have the file for? Likely for a nefarious purpose, unfortunately. Many sites that claim to offer free ebooks are trying to obtain credit card information, which they’ll require for the “free” download. Or, the aim might be to send the user a virus, rather than an ebook.
What if the site actually does have a copy of your ebook?
There are several organizations, both in Canada and abroad, that aim to help the owners of digital intellectual property protect their rights online.
If you want to do a bit of sleuthing on your own, you could try looking up the owner of the torrenting site using the Whois database, which reveals the ownership of a given website. You should be able to find the email address of the website owner on the database, and you can send them an email and request that your book is removed from the site.
Canadian publishers who are registered as affiliates with Access Copyright can have the organization investigate the copyright infringement on their behalf. More information on the service is available on Access Copyright’s website here.
As part of the Copyright Modernization Act, the Office of Consumer Affairs created the Notice and Notice Regime in 2015 to strengthen copyright owners’ ability to control the use of their digital works. It provides a mechanism by which copyright owners can send a notice of alleged infringement to the user’s internet service provider. Notice and Notice requires that the ISP forward the notice to the user.
If the site is hosted in the US, you can also send a DMCA takedown notice, which serves a similar purpose to the Canadian Notice and Notice regime. The DMCA will also process Canadian Notice and Notice takedown requests.