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 "


"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, 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:

"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
 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.
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.

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"

"Pirates Aren't Sexy" by Lori Dillon at The Otherworld Diner:

Aaron Speca - Me and My Others, "Patriots or Pirates - Part 2":

Valerie J. Long, posted at Goodreads:

Aaron Speca - Me and My Others, "Patriots or Pirates - Part 3":

Chris Meadows, posted at Teleread:

Ben S. Reeder, "On Piracy and Justification" as posted on The Wizard's Rede:

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:

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


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 !
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 !

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!
 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!
 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!
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