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That’s the claim from an investigation done by Goodereader.  Here’s a snippet from the article:

We have spoken with a few authors who did not want to be named because of book publishing deals with companies and would only speak with us under the cover of anonymity.

We have found through our research that certain authors have been deliberately been leaking their own books to popular Bittorrent sites such as the Pirate Bay and Demonoid. From the authors we spoke with there were two main reasons why they initially did this. The first factor was to publicly denounce the torrent site for pirating their works and then capitalizing on the ensuing television, radio or online attention that came along with it. The second reason was far more nobler, to share their books for free on sites that often have copyright infringing material.


  1. By the very definition of copyright, authors who retain their copyright can no more “pirate” their own books than they can steal their own pocket change.

    They can break their licensing contract with their publisher, but they cannot steal their own work.

    If an author wants to offer a free ebook and he has a right to do so, that’s fine.

    If anyone else does so, THAT is pirating, aka theft, and that definitely isn’t fine.

  2. Unfortunately, most books aren’t in terribly high demand, so releasing them onto the torrents is unlikely to make a difference. I think “free days” or short term pricing is more likely to do that, especially when combined with other promotional strategies.

  3. It’s one thing placing them on a torrent site – it’s another thing completely thinking that anyone is actually downloading them. And please don’t tell me, anyone, that any torrent site has reliable or faintly credible download stats…. I’ll just laugh myself stupid ..

  4. @Howard: heh, nice to know we disagree on the offtopic stuff as well :). Seriously, if RECAPTCHAs been a problem, it’s fine. The new one’s easier for me too. I just loved the idea that the effort used to achieve something – and relevant to the blog, too (digitizing old books).

  5. Howard: “it’s another thing completely thinking that anyone is actually downloading them”

    Article: “many *comments* from users who downloaded the books were full of gratitude and praise. Eventually some of these users [allegedly] ended up purchasing the ebooks directly from the publisher.”

    “that any torrent site has reliable or faintly credible download stats”

    *any*? Ah… I was going to investigate whether tPB was considered reliable, but they don’t actually show download stats (just the current number of peers in the swarm. Theoretically you can verify those, although once they get above 50 or so your average client won’t tell the difference).

    I don’t think either of the scenarios described are very useful. Without more information, I don’t see where the second author got their audience from. I don’t object reflexively to people e.g. spamming #warez channels with their own work if they think it might help, but… it can’t possibly work for more than a few people at a time, and it can’t be a substitute for running slightly more conventional promotions.

  6. Hi Alan – from your comment “The new one’s easier for me too.” it would appear to me … that we do actually agree 🙂

    ” I just loved the idea that the effort used to achieve something – and relevant to the blog, too (digitizing old books).”
    I have no idea what that sentence means 🙂

    What is “tPB” ?

    As regards the swarm, It is all nigh impossible to detect real seeders from ghost seeders set up by the pirates imho.

  7. The old CAPTCHA was “reCAPTCHA”. The words it uses are from page images of scanned books, and the results are used to help digitize the book (i.e. go from page images to text). That’s why there’s two words: it gives you one “known” word as a challenge, and one “unknown” word to work on. (Ish). Of course it doesn’t tell you which word is which. Google bought them a while back.

    By tPB I was referring to the most well known site for pirates. It shares those initials. To continue the nautical metaphor, you might call it a “bay” for pirates…

    1 – I’m surprised if you’ve seen actual ghost seeders. What I’d heard of was a) simple non-existent torrents, used as “bait and switch” advertising; b) trackers literally just fiddling the numbers. I’m not sure what benefit the site would get from doing anything more than that.

    2 – if you _were_ trying to measure the success of such an effort, you wouldn’t exactly be counting seeders. You’d only really be interested in the cumulative number of unique ‘leechers’, i.e. people who downloaded your book, not those who stayed around to keep sharing it. The latter would be encouraging, but it wouldn’t matter in itself if the author ended being the only seed.

  8. I managed a web company for a few years a while back and was involved in a lot of web security issues. However I am no expert whatsoever. But I did pick up a few things and have friends with much deeper knowledge – hence my opining 🙂

    There is an enormous amount of fiddling going on in the world of pirate sites. Measuring downloads through any kind of analysis of seeders or leechers is completely unreliable because those sites create many ghost identities to create the impression of high downloads.

    You ask to what benefit ? One thing Pirate sites do it try to persuade visitors that ‘everyone is doing it, so you should join in!’. They benefit from growing their click throughs and spreading adware and malware etc. Unfortunately they also persuade other naive people that their claims are actually true …

    Many ‘reports’ quoted by the Music and Publishing industries try to create a myth of ENORMOUS numbers of mega downloading going on by regurgitating many of the statistics gleaned from these sites and then extrapolated as far as they can get away with, to bolster their argument of rampant mega piracy damaging their industries. When you read the small print it is clear how they get their figures, and it is equally clear that they are utterly unreliable and they extrapolate imaginary figures to create imaginary reports.

    Authors hereabouts also regularly make spurious claims about the numbers of times their eBooks have been downloaded form pirate sites, based on equally imaginary and unreliable information taken from these sites. Someone recently even tried to use the ‘fact’ that downloaders had left comments thanking the site for their downloads … yeah right …

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