Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CONSOLIDATED POSTS: A week's worth of pirate sinking


This post is an edited consolidation of a week's worth of reporting about the demolition of an online content pirate by a group known as "No Pirates". Each day's post in this effort is indicated.
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FIRST POST:
Within the past day it was brought to my attention by a Facebook friend that there is a site proudly promoting the fact that they are freely distributing eBooks without author permission. The administrators of this group, known as "The Ultimate Ebook Library (TUEBL)", are unapologetic regarding their underhanded methods. In fact, on their Facebook page (no longer available), the administration flaunts that they "are NOT an American organization so we are not bound by your US laws anyway". The general tone of the administrators is one of mocking arrogance, as they point out that they have been doing this for two years and nobody has been able to stop them. They effectively dare us to do something about it.
Their Facebook page has taken on a feel much like any trolling session, with those who know they are morally corrupt offering much by the way of straw man arguments and red herrings in order to attempt to justify their dubious deeds. Including ad hominem, typically troll-ish goading, some of the justifications by supporters of the site include one reader asking, "how is this ethically any different than going to the public library reading a book?" Another considers it to be an issue of too many fingers in the pie by stating, "I dont[sic] want to pay your publisher for not publishing anything." Another poster commented, "Outdated systems of distribution didn't try to prepare themselves for the internet at all." One misinformed, or completely biased poster claims, "why r the ebooks having same costs as physical book ?" Still yet another uninformed poster states, "its cheaper in Australia to buy ebooks than print. Guess those of you in the US are spoilt[sic] with your cheap books." One even uses a broad generalization to explain why this theft of intellectual property is justified by claiming,"The complaining authors are the ones that are lacking confidence in their work." The administrator of the page goes so far as to claim that "copyright infringement is not theft." Oh, I see. So it is permitted to knowingly and willingly infringe on the hard work of an author, as long as you don't call it theft. As you can imagine, the authors are crafting well-worded, sensible objections to these flimsy excuses.
A poster who apparently is part of the administrative group, Travis McCrea, claims, "We are doing a wonderful thing...we are going to keep doing what we are doing...There is no stopping us, legally, technologically, or otherwise. I can be hit by a bus tomorrow, and we have a plan in place to keep the sites active in that senario[sic]." He also states that authors like TUEBL, that the problem for indie writers is obscurity, not piracy, and that soon TUEBL will have a system in place to compensate authors. This is problematic, since it is obvious by the backlash from the authors that many, probably MOST, have issue with TUEBL. Also, indie authors are not generally represented by big name publishers, and they have already negotiated some type of meager pay system with the publisher or distribution company of their choice.
TUEBL also has a website. On their legal disclaimer page they claim that "While Canada may, in fact, be America's hat... we do actually have our own laws, regulations, and legal system." What they fail to point out is that the unauthorized use of copyrighted material is a crime. In Canada, as well as in the United States, intellectual work is copyrighted upon creation, and no filing of rights is necessary. The page also includes the thinly veiled threat of intimidation, as they state, "Also please note that any email that we receive is public information and will be published in full on our blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social network that we desire." It is clear that they do not intend to honor the hard work of the authors, and in fact expect to bully these very same people into limiting contact with this organization.
A deeper look at Travis McCrea, the leader of this outlaw group, can be found at his public Facebook  page. Through his posts at this site, and some of his tweets, it is discovered that he prides himself on being a "pirate". He failed at his attempt to gain a parliament seat by running on the Pirate Party platform in Canada. On his personal Facebook page, he claims that the site he runs is a "book sharing website." He neglects to point out that this site in no way solicits the permission of the authors of the books he "shares". His LinkedIn profile claims he is the CEO at "Angry Parrot Communications." He is a fan of The Pirate Bay, and seems fixated in general with the notion of being a pirate. It is time to make him walk the plank.
It is time for us to gather forces, as we have already begun to do, and stop this repulsive thieving. If you are an author, or if you know one, or if you realize that this type of activity is detrimental to authors, please help. Visit the TUEBL page and protest. Email Travis McCrea, or message his Facebook page (no longer available) to let him know that this type of activity is not permitted by the global community, no matter how he tries to justify his actions by propping up his false interpretation of laws as his shield. Let him and his supporters know that this type of activity will not be tolerated. We, as a grass roots movement, and defenders of integrity, can make a difference. Thank you for your help regarding this matter.
Special thanks goes out to Katherine Christina Rochholz for bringing this to my attention.
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UPDATE: Thanks to a concerted effort by many authors, publishers and fans, PayPal has frozen the account for this underhanded group. They are no longer able to collect money for the work of others. In addition, Amazon has pulled the plug on Mr. McCrea and company, as well. There have been many, many requests for Facebook  to shut down the page. As we speak, there is a group of dedicated authors and supporters reaching out to other authors who may not even know they are being exploited. Some of these authors have responded, and are requesting removal, joining forces, and in general are working to make sure this guy is done with this outlaw type of conduct. If you like, you may join our "event" on Facebook by going here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/222854591170033/222916914497134
All of this in about five whole hours! We appreciate your support!
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SECOND POST:
PROGRESS MADE:
This post is to provide some information about the activity among the group members, as we continue to mobilize in order to stamp out the piracy of our work. The group is now nearing 200 strong, made up of a variety of indie authors, publishers, illustrators, readers and their supporters. Our effort within 24 hours has successfully impinged on the flow of information and money within the pirate group, in that  and   have both discontinued them from using their services. We have a dedicated contingent of people who have been diligently contacting authors and bringing this dastardly group to their attention. There has been a quick and positive response from these injured artists, many of them having names you would recognize. Still more of our supporters have been spreading the word of our efforts like wildfire.
HURDLES REMAINING:
Since this unlawful group isn't selling the copyrighted work directly from their site,   does not recognize their activities as violating their TOS. At this point, there doesn't appear to be much we can do except to continue to report the page. The other catch is that if we post our defense on the page, it brings up their numbers. Our strategy at this point is to keep the contact on their   page at a minimum.
We have had limited success in keeping their server shaky, as our group bombards their search engine, looking for authors to contact. The page is available, then it isn't. The page is available, then it isn't. The misinformation provided by the pirates is that this is due to the number of books being downloaded. Considering their lack of integrity to this point, it is apparent that they are not being honest. We are working to have their rights stripped, and to shut down their website, but this is not easy to do.
The biggest hurdle seems to be the arrogant ring-leader of the outlaws himself, and the philosophy he espouses: That all artistic content should be free and readily available to anyone who wishes to obtain it. This is a very idealistic stance, as the term "starving artist" is not cliche for no good reason. Also, there is no reason why a person's hard work should go unrewarded. And, most important, to obtain and distribute the copyrighted work of an author or artist, without their knowledge or permission, for a financial gain, is AGAINST THE LAW!
NEXT STEPS:
We are continuing to contact authors at a feverish pace. This may be our best weapon against these criminals, going forward. The track record of these groups is that after they are dismantled, they will sneak around and set up shop somewhere else. It seems as if they have no other skill or talent. Much like any other career criminal, they will pursue their only trade in more and more ways, making pursuit difficult. One of our missions is to stay abreast of their criminal movements, and place a giant spotlight on their activities.
We are closely monitoring the financial and social activities of the rogue band, in case they work to garner funds or support from alternate sources. This is their supply line, and we have the means and knowledge in our group to keep a close eye on their movements.
I am continually impressed by how quickly our message of justice is being spread. In addition to contacting well-known authors, our group has managed to think outside the box, and has been working to secure the efforts of the FBI, RCMP, JAG, and other enforcement agencies related to this type of criminal activity. Apparently this style of criminal activity has no place among the hard workers of our craft, and now is the time to pull out all stops.

Thank you for your help and support. It means a lot to all of us involved. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions.
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UPDATE FROM A MEMBER OF OUR GROUP:
From a friend (non-author, just a friend) He contacted the Legal Departments of all of the "Big 6" -  Penguin has already responded:

Response from Penguin Group:

"Thank you for contacting us, (protecting his name). We are not aware of having authorized the rights to sell Penguin Group (USA) Inc. books through this channel and we appreciate that you've taken the time to contact us and share this information.

Because of the volume of mail received, we cannot guarantee that you will receive a personal response as to the final resolution, however, we will certainly see that this is sent along to our Legal department for review and follow-up.

Thank you again for allowing us the opportunity to look into this matter."
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P.S.- The group is now over 200 strong, and continues to grow!
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THIRD POST:
As we enter our third day of battle, the spirit among the group is high. We are nearing 300 members, and the pace at which this motivated group is accomplishing their objectives is scary fast! In addition to cutting a majority of the offending site's funding ability, we have also managed to squeeze them from social groups. As our yet unnamed group of patriots continued to mount a charge, they also contacted many high profile authors to inform them of their work being solicited on the offending website. All of the authors who have responded so far have been very much against this unlawful and unethical use of their copyrighted work. Many, some of whom I know you are familiar, have said that they will have their legal teams become involved with the battle.
There was also a concerted effort among the group to tag books with information notifying people that the books were on the site without author knowledge or permission. The offending site tried to follow up and erase the information, and eventually had to give up and disable the ability to post tags. There was also a movement among an anonymous group in one of their forums in which the misinformation provided by the TUEBL site was categorically challenged by the group of freedom fighters involved. The exchange was a resounding success, and was helpful in answering questions of many misinformed "borrowers" of eBooks. The now defunct Napster was mentioned as a historical reference for what can happen to the people who download copyrighted material, even if they are not knowledgeable of their participation in criminal activity.
Many involved contacted authorities. Many involved found out so much information about the "head pirate" that there was rumor that by tomorrow we may know what color socks he has on. Many banded together, and stood for justice. Following are a few chosen excerpts of our day:

From authors and publishers:
"Dear _______, Thank you so much for alerting us. It was very kind of you to take the time to do so. We shall get in touch with _____'s relevant publishers and try to put a stop to this. It really is so sad that so many people don't believe in paying the creators of the stories they want to read."

"Thank you for your email about ________’s titles on tuebl.com. I’ve sent it on to ___________ here in London."

"I'm with DAW/Penguin and didn't know about this pirate site until this event page let me know (they have all 5 of my _______ books up there). Based on what he did with ______, I sent this up to DAW. They're engaging their legal counsel and will go up to Penguin's counsel if necessary."

"My assistant has been going after all my books that are pirated, and, shocking as it seems, the other sites are more ethical than this one. You say "take it down", they take it down. This guy is a whole new level of thieving bastard, and my publishers are not amused."
Response from HarperCollins Canada (via their FB page):
"Thank you very, very much for this _______! It's so great to know that someone is looking out for us :)"

 The unfortunate response from Facebook when many of us requested they remove the offending page:
"Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."

A copy of some of the written requirements of the site to remove author material:
"The electronic book, ___________ by ________, is being distributed in violation of copyrights. I am posting below, the copyright page of this book, showing that __________ has copyrighted the work, _________, an electronic book.
Neither ____________ nor ___________ Publishing has authorized the distribution of this work in ANY format. The download link can be found here: http://www.tuebl.com/browse/... and http://www.tuebl.com/book/...
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted material described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law."

A copy of an email sent to the "head pirate's" employer:
"You have an employee by the name of Travis McCrea who is a thief and runs an illegal website that pirates books. I am alerting you to this as I am an author and have many friends of whom he is stealing from this very moment on his website. The situation has currently been turned over to to the FBI. He will bring unwanted attention to your company as this hits the media, just giving you a heads up."

A reply from a famous author to a member of the group:
"Thanks. I sent it on my publisher and my lawyer and my agent.
We'll see what they can find out.
(Famous Author)"

As you can see, the response on the part of the injured has proven to be widespread and consistent in nature. I am happy to report that the tone of the offenders has changed a bit, and instead of the arrogant and condescending tone used two days ago, they are reeling and pleading. Unfortunately for them, we will not stop until the site is permanently condemned. Now that we have seen the injustice, there is no way to unsee it.
Thank you for your interest regarding this matter. Stay tuned for further updates.
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FOURTH POST:
Day three in the battle against a particular eBook pirate site proved to be fast and frenzied, as our growing group of eBook authors and supporters continued to gain ground. In addition to a variety of activities being worked on by very skilled and determined people, the group was also in the midst of a venue change, causing some effort and resources to be directed to the venue rerouting activities. Coordinating an effort among almost 400 people is time and resource consuming!
The day started with feedback from members of our group, loosely termed at this time as "No Pirates", indicating responses once again from well known authors and big six publishers who are pleased with our efforts, and have pledged support of their resources to help in the battle. Knowing we had strength from a variety of allies started our day with a degree of refreshed vigor.
There wasn't much surprise in the reports that Facebook was still safely keeping their distance. A few different approaches to enlisting their help with the pirates resulted in explanation letters, but no discontinuation of services. This wasn't discouraging, as we had a variety of successes in other ways, and as we quickly gain experience, we have come to realize that the issue of internet piracy is a hot button topic, and some companies simply aren't willing to commit for any variety of reasons. There will continue to be an ongoing dedicated portion of our effort and resources toward this cause.
There was also a hurdle with an online pay company outside the country, and the server host for the outlaw site. This is curious, since normally a server host will not tolerate any violation of their TOS. The main reason for this is liability. In the event that a company is involved in illegal activities through the host server site, the site then may be held in some way liable for the unlawful activities. As a result, most hosts have zero tolerance for TOS violations. The main violation, in this case, is the re-posting of copyrighted material after legally being contacted to remove the material. The internationally recognized instrument for this type of notification is known in the industry as a DMCA (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notification. This generally accepted form of documentation is used universally as a type of cease-and-desist order designed around very clear internet laws created about twelve years ago. In our case, specific authors injured by the actions of the pirate group have submitted DMCAs, only to see their material removed, then re-posted. Most host server sites recognize this as not worth the risk of litigation, and are quick to stop this disgusting action by stripping the offending person or site from using their services. Curiously, in this situation, the host server has been reluctant to engage responsibly. The No Pirate group is continuing to submit DMCAs, both on an individual basis, and in a general sense.
As for the online pay site, it operates out of Sweden. While the pay site hasn't directly denied several requests by supporters to discontinue operations with the pirates, they have not taken the steps to withdraw from the offenders either, as did PayPal and Amazon. Several members of the No Pirate group shared the same message from the pay site, indicating they will "look into the issue". A continued effort to campaign on behalf of harmed authors is expected to bring about the prudent withdrawal of support from the pay site.
The activities today were concerted and intense. Since Monday, this was the first day that the pirate group made any movement from their haughty arrogance, and tried to counter in any meaningful way. Up until now, they have been inundated with a flood of aggressive and purposeful authors, but they have apparently misunderstood us to be less effective than we have ultimately proven to be. They have been complacent up until now, and I believe they have finally realized that they have a fight on their hands. The way they have been scrambling all day has been fun and amusing.
For instance, I started my day with a troll in the comments of my blog. I have been expecting this, and I have actually been slightly disappointed the last couple of days in this regard. Not today! There he was, all shrouded in a rarely used and disposable ID, ready for action. His typically troll-ish remark lie there in my comments section like so many childishly constructed words: "Quite a circle jerk you have here, Stephen." Five minutes later, he was a fading memory, as the important part of my day began.
As usual, there was feverish activity at their Facebook site. The usual herd of thugs were there, ready to take on our front-line forum soldiers. As I occasionally popped in to offer support, I noticed that the administrators of the page were quick about removing posts in a typical attempt to sway the tone of the rhetoric. One of our most dedicated warriors was so effective in her dialog that she was given her own distinct celebrity status by the thugs. They referred to her and the rest of us as "The Cassidy Army". This distinction made the rounds through the group, and has been a source of rousing mirth and levity ever since.
This exchange led to the opponents creating their own blog. They appointed some "Twitterette" of theirs to run the blog. It was really nothing containing any substance. The quote from Bill Shakespeare, "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit" comes to mind. She wasted blog space with an analysis of the Facebook activity and nothing more. It was definitely along the lines of what I expected, given the caliber of our opponent, to date.
One of our new members tells of actually calling the lead pirate and speaking to him directly. This was a source of interest for awhile today, as it was unexpected. This source explains that, once again, the main offender was given a chance to reconcile his position, and admit his wrong doings.
Of course he didn't, and this additional opportunity for him to do the right thing and refusing to do so only strengthened the resolve of the No Pirate group. There is nothing which will build solidarity of opposition like an unscrupulous fuhrer unwilling to recognize his own shortcomings!
Among our findings today was that neither the group nor the head pirate in question are listed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) charities directory. This is counter to their repeated statements that they are a charitable organization. As many of the No Pirate participants have stated, saying you are charitable does not make it true. In fact, in this case, it appears to be blatantly false. Unless they are significantly buried under monikers or DBA names, they aren't registered as a charity. No Pirates has made it a point to send this information to the appropriate authorities, who have been very receptive and responsive to our efforts in this regard.
One of the members of our group noticed that President Barack Obama was one of the authors whose book was in the pirated database. Needless to say, it didn't take long for us to send that information out to the proper people. We also had a member contact their senator. She is Canadian, and her senator has a history of strongly advocating on behalf of infringed copyrights. In this case, we have the right dog in the fight.
Another member provided recent information regarding the MegaUpload criminal case. She pointed out many similarities to our present situation. In addition, it would appear that there are some very exacting circumstances that are more than just similar. The very conditions which brought that untouchable organization to its knees are the same conditions which will also dismantle the current eBook pirate group.
Our group had great morale today, as we danced with our disappointingly feeble opponents. One member initiated the feature of Facebook which allows your pages to be seen in "pirate" language. Others followed suit, and for awhile we had fun with pirate phrases. The hash tag #PiratesAhoy is what we have come to employ as our Twitter locale. We are looking forward to bringing this pirate group down as they continue to ignore laws and  the wishes of the authors, and they continue to present their arrogant opinion camouflaged in idealism. They think they know our intentions better than we do. They act as if we should just comply with their dishonest activity, since they surely know what is best for us, the creators of our craft. To us, those are the words of oppressors, and the destiny of online publishing is ours to create.
Please enjoy the following blogs. They are created by supporters of our effort, so please take the time to click over to their sites. Thank you.

Suzie Welker explains in a very endearing way why she enjoys and supports the work of indie authors

Chris Meadows shows his support as he talks about the efforts of the No Pirates group

Aaron Speca neatly dissects the legality of the claims of the pirates

Author Ben S. Reeder sums up the fight in smart, efficient terms

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FIFTH POST:
It has been a fruitful week, in terms of progress. Again, our day was filled with success, and by the tone of the enemy, victory will soon be ours. Now is a good time for a lighter voice, as our group is in need of something less serious after a hard fought charge. In the process, maybe those on the other side may begin to realize how important our voice is, light or heavy. In order to bridge that gap, I felt that the least I could do is speak their language for the sake of offering them a chance to restore their honor. They may demonstrate this, of course, by ceasing their foul activities.

All words and definitions were acquired from "Pirate Words and Phrases"

We began our contact with a hearty "Pirates - Ahoy!" They must have been a bit squiffy, as our first greetings were met with bilge, both from the captain and all hands. This was most disenchanting, and no matter our attempts to create a sense of being among buckos, this lot behaved as bilge rats. We had no choice but to ready our six pounders and inform them of a fire in the hole. They showed us the sharp edge of their cutlasses, hoping we would not notice the useless points. The stage was set. We simply could not stop until the captain was dancing the hempen jig, and the crew measured for their chains as we fashioned their gibbet cage.
To them, it was easy. They saw us as broadside. As a group who went on account long ago, they considered themselves to be in a superior position. They were surprised when we began a variety of ways to bring a spring upon her cable, and they changed their tune. They started running a rig with laws, and hoped to send us on our way. It wasn't meant to be, however, and we pressed on, not content until we saw the scallywags dancing with Jack Ketch, or drinking together in Davey Jones' locker.
Maybe the next group of pirates will be more considerate when addressed with #PiratesAhoy!
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ahoy - An interjection used to hail a ship or a person or to attract attention
bilge - nonsense or foolish talk
bilge rat - A rat living in the bilge of a ship. It is considered the lowliest creature by pirates
bring a spring upon her cable - To come around in a different direction.
broadside - To get along broadside a ship was to take it at a very vulnerable angle
bucko - A familiar term meaning friend
cutlass - A short, heavy sword with a curved blade used by pirates and sailors. The sword has only one cutting edge and may or may not have a useful point.
Davy Jones’ Locker - A fictional place at the bottom of the ocean. To die at sea is to go to Davy Jones’ Locker.
dance the hempen jig - To hang
fire in the hole - A warning issued before a cannon is fired.
gibbet (cage) - Chains in which the corpses of pirates are hung and displayed in order to discourage piracy
to go on account - A term used by pirates to describe the act of turning pirate.
hands - The crew of a ship
Jack Ketch - The hangman. To dance with Jack Ketch is to hang
measured fer yer chains - To be outfitted for a gibbet cage
pirate - One who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea without commission from a sovereign nation
run a rig - To play a trick
six pounders - Cannons
scallywag - A villainous or mischievous person
squiffy - Somewhat intoxicated; tipsy
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SIXTH POST:
This week, an internet pirate has taken serious casualties. In their monthly newsletter, they describe a situation where they are innocent. Here I present to you the other side of the coin, point by point, as they are misrepresented in the pirate organization's newsletter..

TUEBL NEEDS YOUR HELP
--- Misguided fans of authors are waging an illegal war on TUEBL filing false DMCA notices to services like Facebook and Twitter, which link to no infringing content.
Actually, harmed parties are waging a perfectly legal war on TUEBL, filing proper DMCA notices to services like Facebook and Twitter, which link to specific infringing content.

--They have also gone after our fundraising solutions which we use to collect donations to keep our servers up .This is an obvious attempt, by a small group of radicals, to force authors to bury their head in the sand instead of looking at new options for the distribution of their content.
They successfully shut down your fundraising solution, and your servers were moving information illegally. This is an obvious attempt, by a dedicated group of authors, publishers and supporters, to engage their rights to determine where their content is distributed.

---TUEBL also provides unfiltered access to children and adults all around the world, in places that normally cannot afford western ebooks and certainly cannot afford the cost of shipping physical books.
A vast majority of their "customers" are in the U.S., according to TUEBL's own records. It is also interesting to note that it is suspicious for a child or adult to be able to afford an advanced technological gadget like an e-reader, but not to be able to afford a three dollar eBook.

---We provide knoweldge[sic], language, and most importantly immagination[sic] to all these people and it warms our heart when we get those emails and letters telling us how much we have helped someone.
Kumbaya. There is no proof of this huge philanthropic effort, and all credible and regulated sources support this perspective. All evidence supports an underhanded and illegal operation.

-----TUEBL has thousands of authors who submit their content to our site so that it can be found and shared by their fans, and so they can have a larger income based on the increased numbers of fans.
TUEBL has thousands of members who illegally upload authors' work without their consent and knowledge so that it can be shared freely thousands of times to people who have no intent on ever purchasing the works legally so that the authors may get proper payment for their work.

---Other authors don't want this to happen because they are afraid of the future, and will fight tooth and nail to hurt a valuable service like TUEBL.
TEUBL has no authority to speak on behalf of authors. Most authors don't want this to happen because they are entitled to determine the future of their craft. They will fight tooth and nail to decommission an illegal and dishonest service like TUEBL.

---We have a strong belief that it was a Distributed Denial of Service attack pointed against our website and our mail server which eventually crippled our old mail server which forced many DMCA notices to get lost,
A belief is only a way of saying you have no proof. If I believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, it still doesn't make any of them real.

---this was a strategic move as these people who work against us know that if we cannot remove infringing content from our servers, then we would be legally liable and could be shut down.
This was a strategic move, as these people who will eventually put your shady business out of operation know that if you conduct business in a way which makes you regularly legally liable then you shouldn't be in business at all.

 ---We got a new mail server though! We have hardened our infrastructure, and we are going forward even stronger in our resolve to help share books with everyone!
Monkey see, monkey mail. Did you harden your infrastructure with money you were saving for the starving children with brand new e-readers, but not enough money for cheap eBooks? The authors who create the books are going forward even stronger to ensure that the way their books are shared with everyone is done the way they want it done, and not left to the discretion of people with no intent of compensating the authors in any way.

--- To do this we need your help! We cannot fight alone, and our funds are currently all locked up from PayPal freezing our primary account (luckily some funds were funneled through to our secondary PayPal account).
Your funds are currently frozen by a legitimate, honest company with credibility. What does that say about you? Especially when you turn around and mention some shady way of funneling money through a covert channel.
 
 ---We highly encourage everyone to use [an alternative funding source] in general as it makes it fast and easy to support your favourite authors, bloggers, and content creators - in particular we would like people to use [an alternative funding source] to donate to TUEBL.
This alternative funding source, by all appearances, is sympathetic to the cause of stealing the works of authors.

-- We also have a [another alternative funding source] you can send money to: -----------
Shuck and jive, dodge and roll

-- You can also send money to paypal@travismccrea.com using [yet another alternative funding source]
I am guessing that the illegal use of the term "paypal" in this instance is overlooked as having integrity or strengthening their case for credibility? Of all of the names they could have chosen, they decided to rip off yet more copyrighted and owned material to further their financial cause?

--The last alternative is to send money to gppaypal@gmail.com using paypal but we prefer other alternatives since PayPal is crap.
See above. Also, I know that your derogatory opinion of a company makes me more sure of their credibility, thus more willing to do business with them.

---Please make your donation today, it's soooo sooo important to keep our website up and going. We need your help to keep our amazing site going.
 And yet it isn't important to make sure new and struggling authors have a fighting chance at making a living, since the copies you distribute are given away for free, and any donation lines your own pocket for reasons of your determining?


Debunking Myths [the TUEBL way]
 There have been lots of rumours [and truths] flying around about what TUEBL does, what we use our money for, and the legality of our service... let us address a few:

MYTH: TUEBL IS ILLEGAL
FACT: TUEBL operates under Canadian copyright law and even go[sic] above and beyond to abide by US Copyright law by following the DMCA.
REALITY: TUEBL operates in Canada so that US Copyright law does not apply, and they make it extremely difficult for authors to have their work removed and protected from being uploaded again to the site.

MYTH: TUEBL HURTS AUTHORS
 FACT: Through our Amazon links program we know that TUEBL has encouraged the sale of hundreds of books. What's sad, is that we used all affilate earnings to buy books for children in South America, the next batch of books was going to be going out August 6th to Columbia, however, the over zealous authors followers flooded Amazon with requests for our affiliate program to be shutdown and so it was.
REALITY: Despite the allegations that all of their money is used to help poor children in South America, they are not in any way registered as a charitable organization, therefore there is no legitimate record of any of their unprovable charity. Dedicated and organized authors provided Amazon with proper documentation and proof of hurtful activity, and Amazon withdrew affiliate services for TUEBL. 
  
MYTH: TUEBL MUST CONTACT AUTHORS WHO HAVE CONTENT UPLOADED ON TUEBL BEFORE MAKING IT PUBLIC
 FACT: Not only are we not legally required to do this, it isn't logical. We assume that the authors are already uploading their content. If this was a legal requirement than Youtube would have to review every video and then contact the creator, or Facebook would have to review every image uploaded and then contact the artist before letting the image be public. This would destroy our modern web experience.
REALITY: Yes, TUEBL found a loophole in the law which they are exploiting. They "assume" the authors are uploading the content, but it is clear that they actually know that the authors are NOT the ones uploading the content. Dishonest users are uploading eBooks by the thousands without the consent or knowledge of the authors. TUEBL is not comparable to YouTube or Facebook, and in fact their Facebook account was disabled due to the continued requests by authors. If our "modern web experience" allows pirating, then it needs to be changed anyway.

MYTH: TUEBL MAKES A PROFIT
 FACT: TUEBL has actually cost me hundreds of dollars, we dont take any revenue from our advertisements (when we had them) nor from our affiliates. We believed that taking the advertising revenue would be like taking credit for the work of authors, so we gave that money to Childrens Literacy charities.
REALITY: This rhetoric is craftily worded, as you notice no mention of donations or other sources of revenue. If the beliefs of TUEBL folks is that the money they make should not be used to compensate authors, but instead can be used for anything they want it to be used for, then of course they should be willing to deal with hundreds of offended authors, many of whom already donate to charities of their choosing. If a company believes it is decent to steal someone's work and then take any profit made from that work and distribute as they see fit, then why is that company even allowed to exist? Hundreds of authors in a week's time, and thousands going forward, will certainly disagree.

If you run a company which continually provides protected content without the owner's permission or knowledge, then you are running an illegal company. If you run a company which makes any kind of monetary compensation without compensating people who actually do the work, you are running an unethical and dishonest company. If you create processes which humiliate a person by exposing their personal information, and make the process as difficult as possible, then you are providing a disservice to humanity. If you create a system where these rigorous processes must be repeated over and over again as you turn a blind eye to their work being mistreated, then you can only be considered a tyrant. If you decide that this ideal is somehow the way an industry should be run, then you should not be involved in running an industry. If you think that you have the right to dictate the evolution and progress of someone's craft, without their consideration, and in a condescending way, then you deserve to suffer the wrath of the said craftspeople.
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UPDATE 8/6/2012:

It has been brought to my attention that the last vestige of hope for this pirate group - their website - has officially been resolved. While we successfully managed to shut down their paypal, amazon and facebook accounts, their ship was barely afloat with their website. Due to a bit of intel, I checked for myself to see if their website was still up and running. The site no longer exists. This pirate has officially met his doom! We will continue to remain diligent, however, as pirates are nothing if not persistent, especially if they are as smug as this one. His deeds will remain fresh in our collective memory, and any future uprisings will be met with sufficient force. Say hello to Davy Jones for me, mister pirate man. May your vacant, burning galleon be a message to others willing to attempt harm to the fine members of my craft. While this is currently the case, I fully expect this one to float back up to the surface.
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 UPDATE: 8/10/2012

As expected, we are now in the process of playing a game of "pirate whack-a-mole." The pirate site has been up and operating again for the past few days. They have changed the wording on one of their pages, indicating that any of their members who choose to should pay the authors for their work. To date, I have had no reports of this happening, nor do I expect to. Of course, if this does happen, I will be sure to post it here. I am concerned about the work of an author being uploaded after it has been taken down, due to the request of the author/publisher. If the organization knows enough to take down the book in the first place, then they should be liable if the work is put up again. This is just organizational responsibility, and if this type of negligence was being routinely utilized as a business practice in any other capacity, it wouldn't be long before the business is shut down. Please continue to follow this post for any new updates. Thanks for your support!

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Stephen L. Wilson
No Pirates founder
If you would like to help with the effort to end piracy, please contact me. If you want to join the Facebook group, friend me and I will invite you

Saturday, August 11, 2012

LENDINK: Victims of a misguided mob. Black eyes ensue.

For those of you keeping up, you know how diligent the efforts have been regarding the plight of No Pirates and our dedication to maintaining the integrity of our craft. There have been successes and setbacks, and the entire procedure has been subject to an intense learning curve. While not every effort has been met with resounding success, we have continued to exceed our goals at almost every stage of the process. What I am about to report in this post, however, is what can happen when the wrong mentality coalesces into an action which has a tremendous negative impact on progress such as the type which has been made by No Pirates.

At the end of July, one of the members of our group mentioned the site LendInk. The concern was whether or not this was a "pirate site." This question was normal, since the nature of our group is one of open communication, and the sharing of intelligence. There was some discussion regarding the credibility of the site, with a mix of reactions. After a brief check, I decided that the site was not operating in a dishonest or illegal manner, and if it was ever determined that they WERE acting illegally for some reason, that fight was for Amazon to pursue, not me. My group was created to make sure legitimate bad guys were being chased, and not various types of lending sites. I was very clear as to my position, and I pervaded my group with this message, so there was no question as to my lack of interest regarding any action toward LendInk. In fact, here is the banner I posted in the group, on August 1st, and I kept it up for a couple of days:



I also posted the following within the No Pirates group at the same time:

"While it is important that we take the time to research and evaluate the legitimacy of the outlets for our books, it is also important to not demonize the very sites which may be helping us. For example, I find LendInk to be a legitimate source governed by B&N and Amazon rules and regs. It appears to be a great alternative to the pirate sites in that they never charge, they stay in compliance with laws, and they are attempting to create a legitimate lending environment in accordance to such rules. Please put the pitch forks away! lol "

and...

"Let's not be too hasty in negatively evaluating helpful sites, as it stands in the way of progress in this area. Thank you all very much for your eager energy, and I am looking forward to hosting a group interested in being an ally to aspiring authors. Thanks!"

and, in response to a member who claimed she was still convinced she needed to take action...

"Your content, your rules. LendInk does not store any content on their servers, according to their site. If you decide individually to pursue any action regarding your content in relation to LendInk, that is your choice. This group, however, will not follow that course. Please feel free to use any documents in here you want to to pursue your goals, though. I wish you luck. Please keep us posted, if it turns out that they are not legitimate for some reason. Thanks ***** *****!"

As proof, I cited a page for the Montgomery County, Maryland library, which lists LendInk as one recommended for the legal borrowing of books, and I also cited a Kindle blog as listing LendInk as a legitimate book lending site. I had pirates to bust, and I figured I had done plenty to get the word out, and hopefully gather new momentum for our latest movement.

So we continued with our pursuit of the latest bad guy. This particular pirate makes a living by acquiring copies of books and emailing a book list link to members of her "book club." The list is over a thousand pages long, is updated monthly, and clearly she does not compensate authors. In fact, the authors are unaware of her activity. She charges a fee for books she has no rights to, and the author is none the wiser.

Imagine my surprise a few days ago, when, in the midst of managing our movement, one of my members posted in our group that there was a firestorm of activity surrounding several authors who had taken down LendInk! She posted a link to the following article (BTW - For those looking for a list of authors, I found mine at this link):

"LendInk taken down by asshole indie authors"
at 2abd.com, by A.b. Dada

Immediately I knew that I needed to stop what I was doing and check it out. Given the delicate nature and strong emotions surrounding this topic, I knew that there would probably be some fires to put out. I was not disappointed in that regard. As it turns out, this group of robust, yet myopic authors had kicked a hornets' nest. Not only were other authors mad at them for taking away a legitimate potential exposure source, opponents of copyrights in general were fired up and pointing at this action as the latest in a history of unnecessary and frivolous expenditures of energy for a cause which they argue to be ridiculous in the first place.

Lately my time has been spent identifying which members of my group are involved (only a few, thankfully), where the stories are being told regarding the LendInk takedown, and my participation in any number of ways in order to limit any harm to my legitimate group. I have been protectively whittling down my members, so that liability is at a minimum. In addition, this latest frenzy of information has honestly deflated the energy within our group. Not only that, but of course, energy is not being used to focus on the real targets, and other members are getting cold feet, since there has been a LendInk backlash. And there is also that back burner set of projects which revolve around publishing and writing, which have been sorely neglected lately.

Is it possible that the ideology of "let the pirates win, since your efforts are being wasted" is actually true? Could it be that organizing a group with the right kind of integrity and valor is impossible? Are those of us who are fighting the good fight actually shooting ourselves in the foot by chasing a Pollyannic mindset in which enough of the bad guys can be taken out to justify our extreme energy expenditure? In the end, will it turn out that my fight has been on the wrong side of the issue?

I am not yet prepared to give up my efforts. I have never been an author or publisher of note, so I have very little to lose. I am new, and if I burn energy in the beginning so that I can have a sense of direction to spend energy on later, fine. If it turns out that we take down a few bad guys, and our message is met with respect, then I will consider my efforts to have not been spent in vain. If, in the end, people are fickle, and the group dissolves, and the strength of the pirates win me over, well, then I will be no different than privateers of the past. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Meanwhile, please take the time to visit the following sites to get a feel for the type of passion the fall of LendInk has generated. It really is fascinating. If any of you have the time, please do what you can to help LendInk come back. Mr. Dale Porter, the owner of the site who was blindsided by this maligned bunch with a myopic malaise, has been dealing with an unfair amount of backlash from people who should have more integrity than they do. In the real world, if you see an innocent person bum-rushed, what do you do? I try to break up the bums, and then see to the care of the individual at risk. I hope you are of the same ilk.

"What happened to LendInk? The owner responds."
at The Digital Media Machine, by Ian Lamont

LendInk Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/LendInk/124974504234948

"Piracy witch hunt downs legit e-book lending Web site"
at C-Net, by Violet Blue

"Authors hate soldiers who lend books to cats and other tales from the twilight zone"
at Techraming, by Kevin Kulp

"How Uninformed Digital Authors Destroyed LendInk"
at GoodEReader, by Michael Kozlowski

"Misguided authors unite to destroy a legitimate e-book lending site"
at Digital Trends, by Mike Flacy
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 UPDATE: 8/13/2012

At the LendInk Facebook site, there is what appears to me to be a TUEBL shill, maybe even Mayor McCheese, er, Travis McCrae himself, who is questioning my integrity regarding my stance on LendInk. Even though this one person, and ONLY this single person, remains sufficiently defiant in this regard, I would like to add further evidence of my support for LendInk as a legitimate site. I am not completely certain of the identity of this detractor, however, as he/she is too cowardly to use their real name, and only remains hidden behind the moniker "Fatty McButterpants".

Out of the 400+ people affiliated with No Pirates, either as direct members, or as supporters through events, I have found 3 who were listed as authors involved with the take down of LendInk. They were promptly removed from my roster. I warned my people to not involve themselves with any nonsense of this sort, and this is a reasonable consequence of their actions.

Following are posts I have placed in my group after what I am calling "The Fall of LendInk":

Thursday, 8/9-
"‎*smh* This is EXACTLY why I said in the very beginning from the very start, to put the pitchforks down. We have legitimate targets who require our energy. LendInk was not one of them....I did some due diligence, and realized that they weren't breaking any laws. ****, this is part of the reason I restricted you from the group for awhile (member was removed that same day). All it takes is a few loose cannons to jeopardize our hard work and progress. To everyone - regarding the efforts of THIS group, either you are helping, or you are in the way. Going forward, if I should consider your actions to be a liability to our progress, I will not allow you to participate. This should be appreciated and understood. I will know who is actually fighting the good fight by their response to these words."

"As long as Amazon and B&N are fine with this arrangement, I have no dog in this fight. The MOST I would do (although I didn't waste my time) would be to bring it to Amazon's attention and let them deal with it. Case closed, at that point. Moving on to things I can achieve with groups I know are actually, legitimately bad guys."

Friday, 8/10-
"If you feel like it, now may be a good time to show some decency, as indie authors, and comment at the FB page of "A.b. Dada", the author of the blog post going viral, which is giving us all a black eye.
In fact, if anyone can think of a way to help get LendInk started again, let me know. Yeah, I know - "it wasn't my fault," but sometimes diplomacy is the better part of tact, especially since a small group never learned that discretion is the better part of valor. We may have an opportunity here to demonstrate just how smart indie authors can be, given half a chance."

Anyone who knows me or has worked with me, especially within the No Pirates group, can tell you that I don't mince words. I am not one to dance around, pretending to be something I am not. I am not glamorizing as a pirate, for instance. I am not hiding behind loopholes in laws to further my political career, for example. I am not lying, and saying that I am giving charity to starving children in South America, as a matter of fact. There are plenty of reasons why my integrity shines strongly against the actions of a shady group who purports to be advancing the industry of eBooks and self publishing. It disgusts me to think that groups like TUEBL and their supporters have the gall to think they are even in my league. Keep pretending, McCrae. Your credibility dissolves every time you make any kind of public appearance.
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UPDATE 8/15/2012 
There is a fundraiser started for Dale Porter, founder of LendInk. The Fundrazr account shows $1,483 raised so far on behalf of Mr. Porter. If you are a supporter of this cause, please stop by and pitch in a few bucks. The site, at this time, shows over thirty donors, with donations ranging from $5 to "gave generously." One donor is even a self-admitted author involved with the take down of LendInk. This is exactly what ALL of the authors involved should be doing, at the very least. If you know who any of the offending authors are, please direct them to this site, and tell them to donate publicly. This would probably go a long way to getting themselves out from under the sights of people determined to make them pay one way or the other. Hopefully this monetary infusion is enough to make up for Mr. Porter's inconveniences, as well as any costs incurred in the rebuilding of his business.

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If you or anyone you know would like to be a member of the activist group No Pirates, please visit my Facebook page and message me. Thanks for your support!
-------------
Stephen L. Wilson
No Pirates Founder
Smashwords Home Page
Like me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl on Twitter

Voices of a movement: The Bonding of Bloggers

Throughout this battle of rights and what is right, there are several groups of people bringing their skills to the table in order to fight in solidarity. Some of these people are savvy in the ways of technology, and they speak of things such as hosts, IP's and domains, oh my! These are the people who are our intelligence, and they quietly perform some of the most important maneuvers of the war.

Some of the skills employed by others are less refined, yet just as important. The people who get their hands dirty by pounding it out on the front lines of the message boards and social areas use language in a far less technical way. Their job is to engage the enemy in the trenches, and keep a certain amount of their attention and resources tied up.

Still yet are the sticklers for procedure and policy. These are the folks who "dot the i's and cross the t's" in order to keep everyone else legally in sync. They handle the mundane tasks such as document creation and procedure development. Without them, our efforts could backfire, resulting in setbacks and defeats.

Then there are the bloggers. In this pirateppounding fleet of warriors, where varied skill sets determine the force of the attack against those doing harm against our people, the most visible must be the bloggers. These are the people who boldly place their good name in the way of any advancing PR onslaught. They parry and thrust as viewpoints, falsehoods and any variety of opinions are hurled their way. They are the voice and bulletin board for the movement, and their message must be accurate, timely, important, relevant and above reproach at all times. The credibility of the movement relies upon it. For this reason I would like to take the time to point to some of the blogging heroes of our recent combat. Please take the time to visit the blogs of the following people. Without fail, they have all provided stellar duty in the face of battle. If you would take the time to comment on their blogs and let them know they are appreciated, it would be a great gesture. Thanks for your support!

Aaron Speca - Me and My Others, "Patriots or Pirates"
http://aaronspeca.blogspot.com/2012/07/patriots-or-pirates.html

"Pirates Aren't Sexy" by Lori Dillon at The Otherworld Diner:
http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2012/08/pirates-arent-sexy.html

Aaron Speca - Me and My Others, "Patriots or Pirates - Part 2":
http://aaronspeca.blogspot.com/2012/08/patriots-or-pirates-part-2.html

Valerie J. Long, posted at Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2770976-patriot-pirate-or-philanthropist-parasite-i-say

Aaron Speca - Me and My Others, "Patriots or Pirates - Part 3":
http://aaronspeca.blogspot.com/2012/08/patriots-or-pirates-part-3.html

Chris Meadows, posted at Teleread:
http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/authors-band-together-to-attack-pirate-e-book-site/

Ben S. Reeder, "On Piracy and Justification" as posted on The Wizard's Rede:
http://benreeder.livejournal.com/16495.html

I even found an informative blog in Italian referencing our battle:

Sergio Calderale, "“The Ultimate Ebook Library”: piratare ebook รจ uno sporco lavoro, ma qualcuno lo deve pur fare" as posted at Tropico del Libro:
http://tropicodellibro.it/notizie/ebook-pirateria/

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If you or anyone you know would like to be a member of the activist group No Pirates, please visit my Facebook page and message me. Thanks for your support!
-------------
Stephen L. Wilson
No Pirates Founder
Smashwords Home Page
Like me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl on Twitter

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A wench with no conscience: The latest pirate pursuit

8/4/2012

There is another pirate on the loose, and we are organizing now to put her out of business. Check her monthly list of pirated works RIGHT HERE to see if you or your favorite author is being ripped off. This pirate organization likes to put up a front with a legitimate, although not very believable looking website, in order to get email subscriptions. Then, every month in an email, this biblio-buccaneer sends out a link to the latest list of pirated books. Unlike some other shifty pirates, there is no phony attempt at claiming a charitable cause, there is not a notice of claiming it is a library, there is no pretending to have an ideology. This organization simply wants to profit off of authors without their knowledge, plain and simple. We need your help! Check the list. Contact me to become a volunteer for this movement. Tell your author friends or supporters of this cause. We need to make this one go away. 
#PiratesAhoy !
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IMPORTANT NOTE: We are all anxious to see our work and craft remain in our control. However, if strong efforts are used in the wrong way, movements can do more harm than good. No Pirates only targets those who are breaking the law. There are rogue authors with good intentions who may be wasting efforts which may be better spent by rallying against illegitimate companies. Sometimes authors are not in agreement with the practices of certain legal companies, for whatever idealistic reason. Please do not confuse their efforts with those of my group. I take the proper steps to ensure that the people and organizations involved with illegal pirating of our work are the ones we target. I understand that as the industry grows, the way the eBooks are handled and distributed will morph into something tolerable for all parties. In the meantime, some models are better than others. 
#PiratesAhoy !
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UPDATE: 8/5/2012

A few dedicated members of the No Pirates group have been diligently working to contact authors who are on the list of pirated works. We have quietly been emailing instructions to the authors as to how they should deal with this, in case they aren't yet aware how the process works. While it will take quite some time to contact each and every author (there are about 1,000 pages of authors in this month's list), the goal is to shut down the pirate. If the dozens of authors and publishers we have contacted decide to take action, it may be enough to take her down, and it will not be necessary to contact anyone else at that point. Our efforts have brought plenty of email addresses into the loop, and by the end of the day on Monday we should see some results we are hoping for. Thank you to those who have been supporting our effort!
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 UPDATE: 8/6/2012

 As expected, the list of pirated authors has already been removed. The effectiveness of our group gets better and better by the day. It is unconfirmed at this time whether PayPal has discontinued services or not. We have also notified the email service provider, since this pirate was using their email services to conduct illegal activities. Again, there is no confirmation as to whether or not they have complied with our requests. Nonetheless, anyone visiting this pirate page hoping to buy an eBook illegally will be disappointed, and hopefully discouraged enough to not deal with this pirate, going forward. Great job, group! Way to continue to win battles on the high seas!
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 UPDATE: 8/10/2012

Since the pirated author page was removed, there is no actual "proof" of fraudulent activity. Due to this, PayPal cannot restrict activities. This makes sense, and No Pirates will take this into consideration as we formulate the strategy for our next movement. Thank you for your support!
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If you or anyone you know would like to be a member of the activist group No Pirates, please visit my Facebook page and message me. Thanks for your support!
-------------
Stephen L. Wilson
No Pirates Founder
Smashwords Home Page
Like me on Facebook
@wilsonstephenl