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Friday, 8 July 2011

Stolen Books ...

Copyright is always a tricky area, especially once things start to go international. Some countries and cultures simply don't seem to have any concept of "intellectual property" or the right of an author to control or profit from his or her own hard work, research and - often - outlay of capital to achieve their goal.

A major topic at present on several Blogs is the theft of an authors work, 'stolen' copies which are currently being sold on Amazon. What is meant by 'stolen' copy?

In short, someone has created an electronic copy of three books by the children's author Ruth Ann Nordin and is now selling these as an "Electronic" book version through Amazon. The problem is, of course, that Ms Nordin gets absolutely nothing from the sales as whoever the 'pirate' is, simply keeps everything they get from the sale. In this electronic age, this is a major hazard for any author, it is all too easy to make a copy of someone's work, repackage it and then sell it through any online outlet entirely for one's own profit.

What is worse is that there are now a number of hackers out there who regard it as their "right" to strip someone else's intellectual property and profit from it. Other authors have suffered the same problem, though a larger one is the 'file sharing' through 'torrent' sites. These steal music, books, movies and anything else they can find in electronic format. One author who dared to make public accusations against the operators of one such site ripping off his books had his websites hacked and then shut down by the hackers.

As an author I do find this worrying. So far (as far as I am able to discover anyway!) my fiction has not been the subject of such an attack - however, my technical work has been. I am well aware that a large amount of my technically published work has been translated, repackaged and republished - but there's not a heck of a lot I can do about it and neither can the people who hold the copyrights to it. Why? It goes back to the whole concept of 'intellectual property' and the 'ownership' of it. Some cultures simply don't recognise an authors right of ownership ...

Perhaps that is why Leonardo da Vinci kept his notes in a way that no one else could read... But then, he wasn't trying to sell his writing either.

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