LAST WEEK, MIKE PLESTED, A FIVE RIVERS' WRITER LIKE MYSELF, advised me, Lorina Stephens, and fellow Five Rivers' writers that it looked as if our books were being pirated. He had discovered a particular website that offered our books (and others) as free downloads. Lorina suggested we advise the publishers that they were in infringement of copyright and to remove our books immediately. A number of us did so, only to receive an automatic message saying the publisher would get back to us within 72 hours. That was on July 25th. So far, I've received no response. I don't expect I will.
On the surface, this looks like piracy. But I had to ask myself, what does any site get out of offering a free download for something they don't own? The site claimed their motive was to share books - very philanthropic, if not a rip-off to the writer, but I am cynical. I suspect it was something even more insidious than that.
This 'so-called publisher' knew what it was doing. There were numerous buttons offering links to download books through them, through other vendors (Amazon, etc., to make them look legitimate), and also - which I thought really illuminating, a big red button to 'Report Copyright Infringement'. Before I thought it through, I used their link to report the infringement of copyright for The Tattooed Witch and The Tattooed Seer (yes, they already had Seer on their site. It hasn't even been officially launched yet). What really tipped me off was that when I used their link, the icons on the other tabs I had open went live - they responded as if they were loading. That website was collecting or delivering something.
So, what looked like piracy, may actually have been an attempt to search for and steal confidential information, like passwords, etc., from my laptop. My husband is a computing guru. Luckily, he was home at the time and agreed with me that the free download offer was likely just a ploy. We wasted no time in emptying my cache and changing all of my passwords.
Piracy is bad enough. Identity theft, or emptying someone's bank account if they're foolish enough to leave passwords on their machine (which I don't) is even worse. Nothing is for free. Not everything is what it appears. Be careful what you download and what you think you're linking to, even if you're doing it for the right reasons. There are scuzzballs everywhere. These people will take advantage of you if they can.