Author Alert: Copyright Infringement and Website Plagiarism

Woot … you’ve published a book—congrats!

You are now a “published” author; sales are coming in; you are promoting it in every channel you can think of, and then an online OMG moment hits. Your book has walked someone’s plank!

It may be a not-so “Yo-Ho-Ho” time for you and your book. You’ve done an online search and discovered that your book is being sold by someone(s)o you have never heard of—someone(s) you never engaged in selling your book. Could there be pirates in your book’s midst?

Your book is now being sold and you are clueless as to how it got in his or her coffers. And how to get it out.

  • Have your words been lifted … gulp … plagiarized and now is being published with someone else’s name on it?
  • Has it been snagged and being either sold with all moneys going to “someone” you have no idea about?
  • Is it being used as a “hook” to lure in an unsuspecting book buyer to pitch something else too, even directing them to naughty sites?

Again, you are clueless how your book landed there. Most likely, what has happened is that your book has been kidnapped … pirated: it has walked the infringement plank.

The last thing that most of us want to think about is that we need to “police” our work—to be on the lookout for someone (person or company) that has lifted our work and using it for their benefit. Yet, all of the need to be on the alert. Think of this as one of those post-publication duties added to the authoring To-Do list once the book is out.

For copyright protection, if you’ve taken the steps to register your work, enforcing your copyright through the court system is a little easier–if it becomes a necessity. One of the challenges is identifying which part of your work has been copied.

My disclaimer: years ago, I took back the rights of my book GenderTraps from a traditional publisher (McGraw Hill). One Saturday AM, I was doing a search on Google with a link I had been given to see what libraries my titles were in. The squirrel that I can be, I’m now wondering where else are my books and I started putting in Amazon Europe and other places. And aha … there was GenderTraps.


Through Amazon Canada, I ordered a copy … yup, here my book was in French. A surprise.

Now, I had never placed the book there; I had no information about foreign rights from my former publisher with a delightful email or letter saying that rights had been sold to France, Belgium, Germany or anything connected with the UK—in fact, I never got a dime from the publisher for any foreign right sales (typically, an author would get 50% of the gross revenues from foreign sales) … but golly, here my book was with a new cover, the same title and yes, my name was clearly on the cover and available in those countries. And printed in other languages. And … I hadn’t gotten a dime for it. I was not happy.

The letter I possessed clearly reverted all rights back to me from the publisher and was dated prior to any of these new publications. I had a decision to make. Do I sue the publisher for withholding monies?

No, I did not—what I did do was have my attorney send a cease and desist letter. Why? To engage in a copyright infringement suit takes bucks—often very big bucks. In my case, I was dealing with a major publisher that had deep pockets and could sink me into legal fees. And, I would have to prove my damages—actual monies lost and/or not received based on book sales in foreign countries and any advances to the publishers. As someone who had already published a dozen books with traditional publishers by that time, I knew that royalty statements could be challenging to figure out—previous experiences with publishers had occurred where not all sales were reported and I had to work hard to get what was due me. Sometimes, I didn’t succeed.

In other words, skullduggery exists. Thieves are alive and well–unfortunately for we authors. For me, a lawsuit could suck mega thousands of my own money; the time involved plus the emotional drain wasn’t a path I wanted to go down.

Discovery of Infringement

Interesting, it’s often a “fan” who will bring it to your attention that your work has been zapped and infringement is in play. What do you do next?  Good question. Here are four steps to take to protect you and your book:

1.  Notifying the author/freelancer/publisher that your work has been infringed upon and that you are protecting your copyright.

  1.  You may want to contact an intellectual property attorney if a significant amount of your work has been lifted and discuss the best way to proceed with the “alleged” words.
  2.  If your work has not been registered yet with the U.S. Copyright office, and the alleged infringement is significant, get it done pronto—if you do choose to pursue legal action, having your book formally registered with the Copyright office will increase the amount you can collect on damages if awarded… 
  3.  Deal with book piracy. Matey … you’ve got a problem. You to either start putting energy into tracking your book and where it lands you or work with someone who will do it for you.

Book piracy costs publishing over $200 million a year–don’t let you or your book become a victim. Get help. Last year, I did a podcast on it via AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing that is a benefit to all AuthorYOU- members. LISTEN in

Discover the Bad Guys via a Favorite Tool: Piracy Trace.

It’s an automated platform that searches the entire web looking for copies of your work. With an always-on scanning approach, you can rest assured if it’s been copied, it will find it. There is a free 30-day trial… after that, to track one book, it rounds $1 per month; up to 200 titles, $100. Your book may be on the plank with pirates!

Start with Piracy Trace HERE


Next … take the offender down!

You must create a Take Down Notice for pirated books! One of the critical notices to send to any website hosting company is the DMCA (stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Your next step is to go to and download the sample letter. Do a copy and paste with your information, then submit it to any hosting company that is carrying your books and shouldn’t be. The clock starts to tick with a 24-hour window to remove your material.  

One of the critical notices to send to any website hosting company is the DMCA oversight. With’s sample letter, do a copy and paste with your information (do not change any wording in the sample letter—just sub in the title of your book and other related info for it; use the rest of the notice as is), then submit it to any hosting company that is carrying your books and shouldn’t be. The clock starts to tick with a 24-hour window to remove your material. Your source is here.  

As always, we authors need to be proactive: in marketing our books and in protecting them.
Do a search with the Piracy Trace tool linked above and see if your books are floating somewhere they shouldn’t be. Then, if they are, use the IP Watchdog tool and start the notification take-down process.

I bet many of you will be surprised. And, you are welcome.


Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and author of 37 multi-award books. Judith has earned over 40 national book awards for her titles. She’s guided over 1,000 authors in creating their books, earned in excess of $3,000,000 in speaking fees based on her books and gathered over $2,000,000 in onsite book sales at her speaking gigs. Her book, How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech flips a difficult topic into a simple and easily comprehensible plan. If you want to get into speaking, this is the guide that will be the game-changer to success. And, if you want to know more about Judith’s life, her book of “hope” is When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present. You can get it HERE

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