Saturday, August 11, 2012
LENDINK: Victims of a misguided mob. Black eyes ensue.
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 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:
"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
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":
"*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."
"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.
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
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