Piracy may not seem like a subject that has much to do with book promotion, but you might be surprised.
Usually, when people think of digital piracy, they think of illegal movie or music downloads. But it applies to photos as well and can be just as problematic for you, if you are caught doing it.
I didn’t realize how rampant piracy was in the author community until last year, when I decided to join some Facebook groups designated for authors to promote their books.
There are hundreds of these groups on Facebook and some of them even have huge followings with tens of thousands of members. Sounds like a great way to promote your book, right? Well it can be. Some authors say that using these types of groups can more than double their download rates.
But something else I noticed about these groups, was the increasing number of authors illegally using images they didn’t own.
It may sound harmless to some people, but if you get caught, it could cost the author $150,000 per offense.
That means if you do it just seven times, which is once a day, every day for a week, you’ve risked a potential default judgment against you for over a million dollars. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an extra million bucks lying around to pay out to the owner of the photos I was illegally using to promote my book.
And that’s just the default judgement, the company that owns the rights to that image you used, could very well go in and ask the judge for additional damages.
I decided to do a little research into the subject matter, and contacted several of the authors that were doing this. Every single one of the authors I spoke with claimed to honestly have no idea what they were doing was illegal, nor did they realize that the copyright law protected the owners of the photographs with such a large default judgment, per offense.
Unfortunately for them, ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse for breaking it. And a new software is being developed every single day, that can go out on the internet to search for certain photos and when they find them illegally being used, they will go after you for a very simple reason. It’s easy for them to do and they are guaranteed a win; because you have no defense. You can’t say you didn’t know, because not knowing isn’t a valid defense.
There are many companies dedicated to doing nothing but going after people who do this very thing and they are making an insane amount of money in what is known as ‘copyright settlements’.
I happen to know a guy who makes an incredible living doing nothing but going after people who are illegally using photos and video clips on social media sites, that they don’t own the rights to.
They will file against hundreds or even thousands of people all at once, and then settle with those people for a smaller amount. In some cases, the companies will agree to settle the case with you for a few thousand or work out a payment plan with you where you agree to pay them $1,000 a month, every month over the next year.
Do you really have an extra $1,000 a month lying around to pay out every month for the next year or two? Even if you talked them into a smaller settlement, that’s still money you have to spend.
And just think, you could have avoided all of this if you would have just used an image you legally licensed in the first place to promote your book.
Think you can’t afford to license images? Then how are you going to be able to afford the money it’s going to cost you if you get caught stealing them? Think twice before throwing up an image of your favorite celebrity to promote your book.
Here are some sites where you can legally license images.