I've seen a lot of talk about piracy on kboards and much discussion about whether it's worth the effort or whether it's simply whack-a-mole undertaking.
IMHO I think the answer as to whether trying to reduce or eliminate piracy of your work is worth the effort depends on the author and his/her body of work.
For an author starting out or with only a relative few books to his or her credit, piracy likely will not cause harm and may actually be a net benefit.
For other authors, such as those with many works or some modicum of success, some piracy is part and parcel with being an author. However, I believe too much piracy can derail success.
I've been a professionally published author since 1995 and have over 150 books to my credit (William Stanek for technical works, William Robert Stanek for learning books and compilations, and Robert Stanek for everything else I write). My books have generated well over $100 million in sales at retail. Or put another way over 7.5 million people have purchased my works, $59.99 at retail x 2 million = ~$120 million and the other 5.5 million+ sales at other price points were gravy.
I've been researching the impact of piracy on sales of my books for many years. Part of this research has been tracking the number of illegal downloads, which runs into millions of copies, and the sites where these downloads are/were available. Many of my most valuable properties were made available for illegal downloading, including audiobook and book products that retailed for $29.99 to $59.99. The total value at retail of the stolen: $100 million+.
I have no illusions that my sales would have been twice what they were if my work hadn't been illegally downloaded by the millions. I do, however, believe a considerable portion would have. The exact portion is unknowable, but even if only 10% that's tens of millions of dollars in sales.
How many content creators have been impacted similarly? My thoughts are that thousands have been. Maybe not as considerably as myself, but certainly collectively this pirating represents billions of lost sales annually.
For authors concerned about piracy, there are an increasing number of tools. You can try sending a DMCA Takedown notice to the site owner, such as the following:
VIA Email at [[ISPHosting[at]isp.com]]
Re: Copyright Claim
To [[ISP Hosting Company Where Your Work Is Being Infringed]]:
I am the copyright owner of [[BOOK] in contract with [PUBLISHER]] being infringed at:
[[http://www <list the exact link or links to where the infringement is taking place>]]
This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its Web address, from posting the infringing photographs to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to "expeditiously remove or disable access to" the infringing book downloads upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.
I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or the law. The information provided here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder. Please send me at the address noted below a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.
[[Publisher and Publisher email <if you have a publisher> ]]
Several services also have been started recently to help authors fight piracy. One of those services is www.Muso.com. Muso.com offers a free trial period and then acts as a paid monthly service.
I've tested out the Muso service for some time to see how it worked and whether it was useful to me. For me, the free trial was the most useful aspect of the service as it quickly identified all the locations where my books were being pirated (as opposed to me manually performing searches of all my titles, variations of title names, my name, variations of my name, etc).
If you use the monthly service, you can have them send out takedown notices for you. Once you have these locations, you also can send your own DMCA Takedown Notices where there were instances of actual piracy. However, you still need to check each location. For example, about 1/3 of the sites identified weren't actually pirating my work and about 1/3 weren't actually full pirate copies of my work-they were simply samples. For those remaining that were actually pirated copies, I could have specified that I wanted the service to send automated take down notices.
A related problem I am seeing increasingly are shared kindles and fake returns. The shared kindle problem relates to Amazon allowing a single account to have multiple devices associated with it, thus allowing a single copy of a book to be used simultaneously on these multiple devices, allows multiple people to simultaneously access the same books across these multiple devices.
The fake returns problem is where someone buys books, downloads them to their kindle (or kindles), turns off the wi-fi connection on the device (or devices) and then returns the books they've purchased.
Both problems can be mitigated by Amazon.
Amazon knows where devices associated with a single account are being used. When a single account is being used by five different people (one in Miami, one in Bismark, one in Boston, one in Tampa, and one in Los Angeles), there's a problem.
Amazon also knows how many purchased e-items a person has returned and just as Walmart, Kmart or Sears does to prevent fraud, Amazon needs to start tracking fraudulent returns. Occasionally returning an ebook or other e-item is typical. Repeatedly or routinely returning an ebook or other e-items is abuse.