It happens again and again: authors, both indie and mainstream-published, crying foul over piracy of their work. They grab their virtual torches and pitchforks and take to social media to spread the word and their righteous indignation over this or that file sharing site offering their ebooks for free download.
Imagine my surprise then, when I found at least a few of those same authors paying to list their books with a promotional service that steals intellectual property for use in its ads:
When the ad pictured above started showing up all over Facebook this week, I was both shocked and angered. I have censored the service’s name in the image because I don’t want to send any business their way or promote their service, even inadvertently. But if you’re on Facebook and regularly post or share about books, ebooks and publishing, you have probably seen the original ad yourself.
I was shocked by the blatant theft and use of Charles M. Schulz’s intellectual property for purposes of advertising a service that is in no way endorsed by the Schulz estate. I was shocked that the thief did not even bother to include Schulz’ signature, to at least give credit to the creator of the iconic image of Snoopy at the typewriter. I was shocked that this ad was being run in such a hugely popular online forum, showing flagrant disregard for intellectual property laws.
I was angered that an author services provider—a company ostensibly in the business of helping creators of intellectual property—would do such a thing. I was angered that many authors whose names are familiar to me (some of whom are quick to point the intellectual property theft finger at ebook piracy sites) have books listed with this service, and probably have no idea they’ve thrown their lot in with an intellectual property thief.
I was angrier still when, after sending a private message to this outfit’s Facebook fan page earlier in the week, today I received a response claiming total ignorance of what intellectual property was stolen, and from whom.
As some already know, I’ve recently started developing and releasing my own Android apps, and I’ve put in a lot of work creating my own, original artwork and images for use in those apps and a lot of money paying for artwork I’ve had custom-created for use in my apps. The same is true of my books, and I’m sure many of you reading this have also paid good money for proper use of intellectual property, because it’s the right thing to do.
AUTHORS: please do not throw your lot in with any person or service with so little regard for intellectual property rights. You are, after all, in the business of creating intellectual property and it’s incredibly hypocritical to let an intellectual property thief represent you or your work in any way, once you have been made aware of this situation. If you have a book listed with this outfit (and if you’re not sure, email me at indieauthor @ gmail dot com and I’ll share the name of the company) I urge you to immediately remove your books from their listings and demand your money be refunded, and then spread the word about this company to all your author friends.