Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘piracy’

mariaI’ve just noticed my novel “Between The Tides” popping up for sale on various strange websites, adult sites, the sites you hesitate to click on, so I refrained from further investigation. It used to happen a lot with Amazon too, my stuff getting stolen and sold by pirates. The first couple of times this misappropriation and misrepresentation bothered me deeply. It used to feel like a violation.

It’s my business if I decide to give away a novel I’ve spent years writing, quite another if some n’er-do-well cuts and pastes it and charges $5 for the download, but for all of that it concerns me less nowadays, and there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. I hasten to add “Between the Tides” is not an “Adult” novel. It’s a contemporary literary romance, so anyone paying their $5 and expecting pornographic rumpy pumpy are going to be disappointed.

Technology opens up all manner of possibilities, not all of them for the better. The Internet enables many, like me, a means of self expression, changing the definition of what publishing actually is, and I count this on the plus side. But on the other there’s a million new ways of exploiting the innocent, of scamming them, hurting them, even enabling new forms of global warfare with whole nations trying to shut down each other’s essential infrastructures, like electricity or air-traffic control. And its effect on global politics is only just becoming apparent, sophisticated algorithms undermining the democratic process and swaying election results in favour of the plutocratic moneyed minority.

I’ve always been a progressive when it comes to technology, but some of the visionaries driving it now are clearly nuts, also unfortunately incredibly rich and powerful. Technology changes lives, brings about revolutions in the way we live and work. These revolutions used to take centuries to come about, then it was decades, now it’s down to a few years. The pace of change is accelerating, and some visionaries, real live CEOs of Silicon Valley companies, extrapolate a future where the time for change is compressed to zero. They call it the Singularity, and it’s at this point everything happens at once.

Really, forget religion, the techno-visionaries are quite evangelical about it. The Singularity is analogous to the Second Coming, or the End Times, or the Rapture. It’s at this point, they tell us, machines will become conscious beings in their own right, and we will have achieved immortality by virtue of the ability to “upload” our minds into vast computational matrixes, like in some hyper-realistic massive multi-player online role playing game.

But given the darker side of technology, is this something we really want? I’ve only to watch my kids playing GTA to know it’s the last place I’d want to be trapped for eternity. Or perhaps, given the inevitable commercialisation of the meta-verse, our immortality could only be guaranteed provided we obtained and maintained sufficient in-game credit, and when we ran out, we could be deleted. Thought you’d be safe from market forces when you died? No way, the visionaries are working on ways of it chasing you into the afterlife.

Certainly our machines are changing how we live at an ever accelerating pace. Meanwhile we remain essentially the same beings that walked the planet two thousand years ago. Whether or not you believe it’s possible to preserve your essential thinking being by uploading it to a computer depends on how you imagine consciousness coming about in the first place. There’s the mechanistic view, that the brain is a computer made of meat, so as soon as we can make a computer as complex as that, Bob’s your uncle. But I’ve never been of that view, so I’m able to rest a little easier that my afterlife will not be spent avoiding evil bastards in a GTA heaven or keeping up the payments on my immortality.

In the matrix, there’s nothing I can do to stop the bad guy from stealing the book I’ve written, but he cannot steal the one I’m writing nor, more crucially, my reasons for writing it. Such a thing transcends the mechanistic world view, a world view that’s a century out of date, yet still cleaved to by the technocracy with all the zealotry of an Evangelical Preacher. The technocracy long ago deconstructed heaven and transcended God with their own omnipotence, but what they’re offering in its place now makes less sense for being all the more transparently absurd, and for the simple fact that machines do not come for free, that those who own them are paid by those who do not. Bear this in mind and our relationship with machines will remain balanced, and correct. Forget it, and the machine will eat your brain long before you get the chance to upload it.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

book thiefAs I’ve written before, one of the hazards for Indy authors who self publish is piracy. You write a story, put it up for free online, and then it mysteriously appears for sale on the Kindle Marketplace. This has happened several times with my novels – and it’s just happened again. My story “Push Hands” is currently available on Amazon for the princely sum of $3.25, and I’ve no idea how it got there. I cried foul on the comments section, which is how I got the last lot of pirated material taken down, but Amazon doesn’t always approve of such unconstructive criticism, and I may have to approach their legal department directly. Again.

There’s not much we can can do about online piracy, other than remain vigilant and challenge it on sight.  If you’re an Indy, the first time this happens you’ll find it upsetting, even a little creepy that someone out there is impersonating you, but I think we have to accept it more as an occupational hazard and not get too hung up about it. The main concern here is for our readership, and to make sure no one ends up paying for work they think is coming from us, when it isn’t. So if you find your work for sale on the Kindle Marketplace, and you didn’t put it there, keep your head, spare your expletives and speak to Amazon. There is a process, and it works. Amazon will take it down.

If you’re a reader and you’ve paid money on the Kindle Marketplace for anything I’ve written, then I’m sorry but it’s been pirated and I urge you contact Amazon, who should refund you. All my work is available for free on Feedbooks. I do not self-publish on the Kindle Marketplace.

If you are the pirate, I’ve nothing really constructive to say to you, other than you’re courting some seriously heavy Karma, my friend, and you really need to mend your ways before it catches up with you.

I am the real Michael Graeme and you’ll find the real, unadulterated, unpirated, totally original, and absolutely free version of my story “Push Hands” here:

Push hands book cover

Read Full Post »

This is becoming something of a habit.  I’ve just found my interpretation of the Hexagrams of the Book of Changes for sale as a Kindle Edition on Amazon for £6.57. Needless to say, it wasn’t me who put it there. Please don’t  buy this book. It’s available for free, from my Website here. I’ll be making sure Amazon take it down as soon as possible. If you have already bought it, please don’t worry. It will eventually disappear from your Kindle of its own accord and your account will be refunded by Amazon.

As with all Kindle titles from unknown authors do please check the preview content before paying. You can usually tell if it’s pirated by the standard of the formatting. Pirates take no interest in formatting. They simply cut and paste from the source text and the result is always sloppy. A bona fide author  will always take more care with presentation.

I do not publish my work on the Kindle Marketplace. If you find it there, it’s been cut and paste pirated and the alarm bells are most likely already ringing because I do keep an eye on things, having fallen foul of those pesky Kindle-pirates before.

If you are the pirate – desist. You’re self-evidently and very seriously out of Tao, and anyone who knows their Book of Changes will tell you that’s not a thing to be taken lightly – they’re also likely to give you a wide berth in order to avoid the risk of getting caught up in collateral damage. So, don’t be a clown, take it down.

For those of you who don’t know me, all my work is free and (mostly) available from Feedbooks.

Read Full Post »

The murky underbelly of on-line publishing?

They say where there’s muck there’s brass, but equally the opposite is true: where there’s the sudden glitter of freshly minted brass, the muck’s never going to be far behind in chasing it. It seems reports of the financial successes of certain authors using the Amazon Kindle marketplace as a publishing platform have resulted in murky characters muscling in and trying to sell ebooks on Amazon.com that don’t actually belong to them. They call it content farming. I call it plagiarism, or stealing.

Can’t write? Not a problem. There’s plenty of creative content out there you can simply cut and paste and sell under your own name. Just delete the author’s name and replace it with a false one of your own. But wait, isn’t that illegal? Sure it is. It’s also dishonourable, deceitful and downright dirty, but we writers are stupid enough to put our work up where anyone can copy it aren’t we? So it’s our own fault, right? I mean some writers even give it away – so what’s the problem? Worried about getting caught? Don’t be daft. Who can afford to get a lawyer involved to sort it all out? Sure, if the original author spots it and complains to Amazon, they’ll pull the plug on you, but by then you’ll have made a few bucks for very little effort and disappeared back into the woodwork like the n’er-do-well worm that you are.

It happens, apparently. It happens a lot, and it’s getting worse.

I wasn’t aware of this until a couple of my own books appeared over the weekend as retitled Kindle editions. The seller, who I’d never heard of, was claiming authorship and demanding the princely sum of $6.70 per download. My thanks once again to Lori and Emma for pointing this out to me, and for covering my back. I couldn’t believe the barefaced cheek, but then I’ve always been blissfuly naive in the ways of the world. I was initially quite cross, but I’m more philosophical about it now.

I’ve been agonising over Kindle publishing myself, but eventually rejected it as being too complicated – the financial and, taxation side of it – and then someone else comes along steals my stuff and puts it on the Kindle Marketplace themselves. There’s the plot of a good story in there, and a complex moral as well that I could spend a long time exploring . But seriously, it seems there’s little an online author can do about this, other than keep their eyes peeled by frequently googling their own stuff and making sure there’s nothing suspicious about what comes back at them.

Amazon were quick to act in this instance, taking the links down, but now I’m wondering if any copies were sold, and if that money can ever be repaid to the customers who downloaded those books in good faith – because they received a second rate product to say the least.

While the books were still up on Amazon I used the “look inside feature” and noticed the formatting of the text was mangled, the chapters not always complete, showing all the signs of having been clumsily combed off the internet, patched together and offered up for sale like a badly pirated video that turns out to be all noise. The difference is, however, with a badly pirated video, you know it’s pirated before you pay for it, because the guy selling it has a dodgy look about him and operates in the shadows of your local boozer. If you pay for it, you only get what you deserve, but with the Kindle, you’re assuming Amazon’s content is legitimate, and you’ll be justifiably cross to find yourself paying for disjointed content. It also tarnishes the reputation of the Kindle, and Amazon, and undermines consumer confidence in the whole e-book market.

I think this is actually quite a blow for the online independent publishing sphere. While on the one hand it’s encouraging to know there’s enough money around in independent publishing these days for the criminal underworld to take an interest in it, the last thing we want is paid content from independent authors turning into a minefield for the consumer. That way we all lose. I’m happy to be keeping my work on the free side of the internet for now. It makes it no safer, but there’s less confusion. If you’ve ever paid to read an ebook with my words in it, it was stolen.

So, if you recently downloaded those disjointed, second rate cyber-knockoff copies of “Love lost and found again” by “Kevin Peters” or “Fearful of the consequences” by “Jennifer Watson”, do please contact Amazon and insist on a refund. And if you’re not already weary of the whole business, please go over to my Feedbooks stream and download the proper e-books for free. “Love lost and found again” is a plagiarised version of “The Road from Langholm Avenue”. Fearful of the consequences is culled from my novel “Push Hands”.

Regards

Michael

**Update Feb 14th**

It seems I’ve taken the plunge at last and started selling my work on Amazon.com, with three Kindle titles listed – The Road From Langholm Avenue, Push Hands and The Lavender and the Rose. Yes, these books are under my own name and their original titles, but I’ve no idea how they got there, nor where the revenue is going.

I’m trying to have these taken down but in this case Amazon is putting the onus on me to prove I own the copyright, so they want address, phone number, inside leg measurement, plus a declaration signed in blood, on pain of death or life imprisonment, that I’m telling the truth.

Interesting! Okay – just sent that off to their legal department. We’ll see how it goes.

15/2/12 – Amazon reply to confirm receipt of my query and express regret that they are unable to respond as quickly as they would like at this time. Offending books still there.

17/2/12 Offending books still there.

21/2/12 Message from Amazon confirming imminent shooting down of offending books. Books gone.

Matter closed.

Read Full Post »

As pirate attacks continue to wreak havoc on one of the world’s major shipping routes, my researches into completely unrelated matters have turned up this fascinating nineteenth century account of piracy off the western coast of Africa, and how it was efficiently dealt with.

On the morning of the 14th of September 1828, a 500 ton copper clad East Indiaman, armed with six carriage guns, slipped out of Portsmouth harbour, bound for Bombay. The vessel, the Sesostris, was a regular trader between Britain, Cape Town and the East Indies, carrying freight and passengers.

Two of the passengers were a young couple by the name of John and Margaret Wilson.  John a newly ordained Church of Scotland Minister,  was bound for what would become a lifetime of work in India as a respected missionary. His wife, Margaret, was to become a devoted teacher,  establishing among others “the Bombay school for destitute girls”. As the Sesostris neared the equatorial region, Margaret, in typically understated fashion wrote in her diary:

We were once or twice alarmed by the appearance of piratical vessels. The captain ordered the large guns to be loaded, while muskets, swords, and pistols, were all in readiness for an attack. I do not doubt that one of these vessels was what we took her for; but we looked so formidable, that she kept at a distance.*

To disgracefully mangle an Ambrose Bierce quotation: “There is nothing new under the sun, but a lot of old things we have apparently forgotten!”

*From “A Memoir of Margaret Wilson” by John Wilson (1844)

Margaret died of fever in Bombay , in 1834.

Read Full Post »