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September 13, 2013, Selling Pirated Books

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Admit it, we’ve all done it—This morning I was doing a web search on my own name. Normally there are no surprises, but that’s kinda why we do it, right? To see if there are any surprises? And when you have a last name like mine, odds are when you do a web search on your name, it’s you that comes up, not 500 other people with the same name.

Anyway, a surprise came up, and it was an unpleasant one: I found that a website called is selling pirated copies of a book I wrote some years ago. You can buy copies of all sorts of pirated books on DocStoc, it seems.

The site apparently works a little like MegaUpload and its ilk. You earn credits by uploading content, of course, because to charge fees and sell advertising based on pirated material, well, you need someone to get you the pirated material. So the site incentivizes you to upload content, and then sells advertising and (in this case) charges monthly fees.

But it’s even worse than that—if you upload a document to DocStoc and people buy it, you actually get to split the revenues with DocStoc. So steal content and upload it to DocStoc, and DocStoc will actually pay you some of the proceeds.

I’ve alerted my publisher, who I assume will take more than a passing interest and hopefully will issue a DMCA takedown notice.

Yes, people do make money from piracy. Yes, they do induce copyright violation and yes, there is a reason for the DMCA notice-and-takedown mechanism, which was designed precisely for situations like this.

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