The Hard Truth About Protecting Your Ebook from Piracy

One of the questions I’ve seen floating around the author space a lot is how one can protect their ebook from piracy. As someone who has worked in web development for years (I’m not telling you how many ‘many’s’ are attached to that), I’m always interested in seeing what people say. For one simple reason: it’s impossible to stop anyone from pirating anything on the internet.

I know, I know. That’s not what people want to hear. And I know there will be a few people who will say, “but this article said this! And this blog said that!”

Let me clarify. There certainly are preventative measures that you, as an author, can take the make it harder to pirate your book. But anything that claims that it will make it impossible is lying to you. It is what can be called “safety theater.” 

What About DRMs?

If you’ve published before, you’re likely familiar with the term DRM. Digital Rights Management is, more or less, a code wrapper that goes around your digital content. This is supposed to “prevent” pirates from being able to access your copyrighted material. Publishing services like Amazon and Barnes & Noble boast these “theft protection” measures, but a cursory Google search of DRM removal makes it devastatingly clear that these measures do not account for much. 

Let me explain a bit more about what DRM is.

DRM is code within your book for a quick and dirty explanation. This code can do a few different things. In some instances, it minimizes the number of devices it can be on or be shared with. In others, it may prevent taking screenshots or downloading the book outside of its intended app. This makes it so the average person would struggle to share your bodice ripper with Great Aunt Girdy.

However. Where there is a will, there is a way.

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s incredibly easy to remove these DRMs. I won’t go into detail about how it’s done because I do not want this to turn into a how-to guide on pirating books. 

Is there any way to prevent your book from being stolen? 

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but no. There is no all-encompassing way as of yet to protect your ebook. 

Your only protection as an author is your copyright. We will talk a bit more about that next. 

So, what do I do if my book is pirated? Is there no hope?

There are, of course, things you can do! 

First, set up a Google alert! This way, you have a greater chance of finding out if your book is being distributed on websites you haven’t sanctioned! 

If you find your book on pirating websites, you can file a DMCA takedown notice by following the steps in the article here.

I know, it sucks to hear.

Trust me, I would love to say we live in a world where we can ensure that nothing bad happens to our literary children. Unfortunately, I cannot. All I can do is caution you to take precautionary measures and make sure that you have iron-clad copyright.

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