I awoke to a Google alert this morning. It provided a list of about ten new torrent sites to which my books had been added overnight. It appears someone has been busy, and not just me, trying to create new books.
Torrents are special. I feel at a loss when dealing with them. With other pirate sites, in many cases, there is a DMCA button. One can email the site administrator directly and issue a take down notice. Often it actually works. However, with torrents we don’t have that option. There is no “Contact Us” button. No address. Just a hazy world of online maliciousness and anonymous villains.
What is a torrent exactly? Well, I am not in any way a technical person so I won’t offer to explain it in my own words. I’ll rely on Wikipedia in this case.
“In the BitTorrent file distribution system, a torrent file is a computer file that contains metadata about files and folders to be distributed, and usually also a list of the network locations of trackers, which are computers that help participants in the system find each other and form efficient distribution groups called swarms. A torrent file does not contain the content to be distributed; it only contains information about those files, such as their names, sizes, folder structure, and cryptographic hash values for verifying file integrity. Depending on context, a torrent may be the torrent file or the referenced content.”
As I understand it, the torrent file directs you to another location. This is where I get nervous about clicking links. In fact, when I Googled “torrents,” one of the first docs that came up was one on how to download safely from torrent files without getting viruses.
I ask you, folks, is all this worth it to scam a free book? Most of the authors I know offer freebies and do regular giveaways. We offer advance reading copies for reviewers. It isn’t hard to get a free book through legitimate means.
I understand the arguments. People are low on funds. Times are hard. We all get it. However, there is this thing called the public library. I work at one. I know how it operates. You go in and show your I.D. and a nice person like me will literally hand you a library card within five minutes. The only time you have to pay is when you’re late. I know for a fact many of my books are available at many public library systems throughout North America, in print and ebook.
There are options.
For the record, I did click a couple of those torrent sites where my books were listed. They led to screens with pictures of nubile women in bikinis, among other things. Did they look like “safe” sites? No. Would I want to download material from them? No.
If you’d like to try clicking on them, be my guest. I’ll just be sitting over here, devoting the next eight hours to crafting another book. By my calculations, it should be pirated in the next few months.