I don’t know what to do. I saw your blog recently and thought I’d ask here. Recently, I’ve seen some of my work appearing on a site where someone blogged it. I was planning on publishing that work on Amazon and this person appears to be giving it away for free while making AD revenue. What should I do?
First things first, remain calm. There is a lot here that needs to be considered. I am an attorney, so I can only give you a high-level overview here. Please don’t take what I say as legitimate legal advice.
First, do they just have your work in its entirety published on their site or are the putting snip-its of it up and doing commentary?
If its the latter, there may not be anything you can do. That may fall under fair use if they’re doing a parody or reviewing your work.
So what is fair use?
In short, per US copyright law, the doctrine of fair use allows that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.
You’ll want to see if what they’ve done falls under that. If so, you can (politely) ask them to remove it. Most ethical writers will do so without argument… however they aren’t really under any obligation to. So do not be surprised if they refuse or do not respond.
Now if we’re talking about just stealing your story in its entirety and posting it, that’s something different all together. They are profiting off your work, hurting your profits, and they should not get away with that. One question I have is whether or not you have your work registered with the U.S Copyright Office?
This isn’t mandatory, but I usually tell people it is a good idea for a plethora of reasons. Copyright protection technically exists from the moment the work is created in a tangible medium. However, registration provides a few important benefits, such as proof of ownership. Likely no court will hear your case, no will any site owner act on a claim without proof of ownership. So you’re likely going to need to do that first.
That said, before doing anything else… please, please, please, CONTACT A LAWYER!!! Get someone professional who knows the nuances of the law working for you. Do not do anything until you do. I cannot stress this enough. Any action, including contacting the perpetrator, could jeopardize your chances in court.
I hope this helps in some small way. Readers, do you have any further advice for Lillian? Let her know in the comments!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!