Apple Store and Pirates

If your book is successful enough, it will be pirated. The worst offender seems to be Apple's iTunes store.

How do you get Apple to listen?

I recently helped a mutual friend who's books have been, and continue to be, pirated in the Apple Store. The first time was panic, now it's just routine, albeit, a pain in the ass.

The first time this happened she was alerted by a Facebook message from another caring author. Panic set in. This book was sitting in the top 20 of the Amazon store for the last ten days or so. That's a lot of money to lose if Amazon decided she was scamming by having the book in other retailers.

Since I was in the music business, she came to me for help.

The first step was to create a DMCA notice and try to find out where it was we needed to send it. Since she had her permafree book on Draft2Digital, we contacted them. Unfortunately, they didn't have a way to change things since the "thief" wasn't in their system. They did give us a copy of the DMCA they use and gave me permission to give it to anyone who needed it.

After we filled that out, we sent it to: [email protected] and we waited, and waited, and waited. After one day of not hearing anything, we sent it again thinking something was wrong, and waited, and waited, and waited. Not even an acknowledgement that they received it.

Panic is really setting in now, and we contacted the author who alerted her. She had a connection to publisher support (I won't give that email since it really didn't help, although they did sincerely try to the best of their ability.) The one thing they did help with was checking that the email did get to the legal department, and it did.

Now what? Well, I started to scour the Apple site for somewhere to contact legal (it had been about four days and she was thinking of legal recourse). I tried a few of the forms on the contact us legal link, most didn't apply and the one for the iTunes store doesn't work because books URL's are different than music and movies (which is what that form was for).

Frustrated? Oh yes we were. 

For the record, this is the link to the online DMCA. https://www.apple.com/legal/contact/ Click the one that says copyright infringement.

The dreaded Amazon email

If you happen to be in Kindle Unlimited, things get even more scary. It had been five or six days and still the book was listed for sale. She got an email from Amazon that went like this:

Hello,

We found that one or more books you've published don’t meet the KDP Select content guidelines. Books enrolled in KDP Select must be exclusive to Amazon in digital format during the entirety of their enrollment in the program.

...

Now panic was really setting in. In case that happens to you, just reply something like this:

Thank you for alerting us to that book. It is not authorized and we have issued a DMCA request for removal with Apple. The book was stolen, and we also found our other book stolen on iTunes as well.

Apple has assigned us a case number, but asks that they be given a few days to investigate.

Again, thank for alerting us, and we are working as fast as possible to get the book removed from Apple.

Make sure you have a real case number (which we finally got, although I don't remember through which avenue) in case they ask. 

They will most likely give you some extra time to have it taken down.

Pirated books removed from iTunes Store!

A couple of days later, the pirated versions disappeared. No email, no notification, no sorry (even though Apple will keep the royalties that rightfully belong to her, but that's another post).

Wack-a-mole

Two days later, the book was back on iTunes. Different publisher, but the same book. We went through the same thing. This time it was removed in two days. It keeps appearing every week or so, and I'm writing a program to check iTunes for your book and email you. Otherwise, I recommend checking every couple of days. When the program is finished, I'll make it free for anyone who wants it.

The last few times we have submitted the books, they are down the next day. Your milage may vary since I think they don't have to investigate this book anymore. By law they have to take the book down immediately, but in reality, they don't really care and will get to it when they feel like it.

I wish I had better news, but they will eventually get to it.

Sample DMCA

My name is (YOUR NAME). An author that your company publishes is infringing on titles copyrighted and owned by me.

The original BOOK TITLE is: (BOOK TITLE), to which I own the exclusive copyrights, are: (AMAZON OR OTHER LINK)

The unauthorized and infringing title is: (TITLE) by (INFRINGING AUTHOR) and PUBLISHED UNDER (INFRINGING PUBLISHER) AND Available at: (INFRINGING LINK)

This letter is an official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.

Please also be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice. Under US law a service provider, such as yourself, enjoys immunity from a copyright lawsuit provided that you act with deliberate speed to investigate and rectify ongoing copyright infringement. If service providers do not investigate and remove or disable the infringing material this immunity is lost. Therefore, in order for you to remain immune from a copyright infringement.

I am providing this notice in good faith and with the reasonable belief that rights I own are being infringed.


You only need to send the formal notice, but I felt it was better to reiterate the claim.

I hope this helps somebody. Please feel free to leave comments below.

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