I self-publish my work through Smashwords, and they farm my short stories out to other retailers like Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Scribd, and others. That is known.
What’s unknown is who else is an authorized dealer. Today I was trying to figure out how to get into my Google Books account, since they’ve revised the site, in case I need to delete a title or upload a new one. Instead, I found my short stories for sale on a Netherlands URL (and at a discount, no less).
I Googled my 13-digit ISBN and found my two short stories available in other nations:
- Bol, Netherlands (see update below)
- Ameblo, Japan, by some kid who shares free documents
- Livraria Cultura, Brazil—one story for two prices, no less
…and Google’s cached page for Mamzelle Deybow, which sounds like a French blog (by other Google results) but the URL is owned by a Moscow party. They’re offering a free Torrent copy.
Registrant Name: Vasily Ponomarev Registrant Organization: Registrant Street: akademika Vlasova st. 6-89 Registrant City: Moscow Registrant State/Province: Moscow Registrant Postal Code: 113224 Registrant Country: RU Registrant Phone: +7.9165229873 Registrant Phone Ext: Registrant Fax: Registrant Fax Ext: Registrant Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m guessing there’s nothing I can do about this. It’s international, our jurisdiction only goes so far, and I don’t have the capital to launch a lawsuit for two short stories totally three bucks. I was chatting with another author, Taedis, who told me he discovered an overseas group who’d not only pirated one of his novels, they bothered to produce a book trailer for it on YouTube.
A long time ago, I wrote a personal story about an old woman who lived above me in our apartment building, and the friendship I formed with her even as she succumbed to dementia. It did well on Open Salon, but that’s where it was plagiarized by a woman in Florida. She regularly haunted Open Salon for popular stories and represented them as her own, bragging about becoming a “published author” (through Lulu.com), and Salon just wasn’t interested in enforcing their policies to protect their writers. Their open-blogging project was shut down last year due to unmanageable spam.
That’s how the world works: any time a system is established, there’s a lower order of human that seeks only to exploit it. I have no practical legal recourse, just have to accept it and… continue. Produce new, original work and try to sell it legitimately, and hope that people who like my work purchase it through the intended channels.
Yes, I know how naïve that sounds.
UPDATE: The Netherlands connection is legitimate. I self-publish through Smashwords who farms titles out to Kobo, and Kobo has partnered with Bol.com since Sept. 2014 to resell digital work to readers in the Netherlands and Belgium. This, at least, is good news.