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Indie Author’s Guide to DMCA Notices

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in How-To, News | 0 comments

Indie Author’s Guide to DMCA Notices

Someone’s Pirating My Book!

So you’ve done an Internet search for your books and found them listed on one of the many torrent sites popular for pirated media. After you get over the initial shock and feeling of violation, what do you do? There is a mechanism in place for dealing with this scenario. Although it isn’t perfect (few things are) it can help you to feel like you have a little more control over the situation. I’m speaking, of course, of the DMCA.

 

Shedding Light On The DMCA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted in 1998, makes it illegal to aid in the distribution of unauthorized copyright material. There is a lot of debate surrounding the DMCA and whether information should be free to be disseminated by any means, but I’m not going to get into those arguments here. I’m going to show you how you can use the DMCA to your advantage to try and cut down on the number of sites that carry your works illegally.

I say “cut down on” because removing every site that is pirating your work is well-nigh practically impossible. The Internet is a living, breathing thing and there will always be new pirates popping up to try and spread your hard work, and others, around the Internet without your knowledge or consent.

 

How A DMCA Takedown Request Works

Most service providers are willing to listen to claims of copyright infringement and (at least nominally) do something about them. It is in their best interests to do so. Failure to adhere to the DMCA can cause them problems further down the road. If they fail to act on proper DMCA notices, one can go after the web hosting provider (the servers where the offending site is located) and force them to shut the site down. Many of these sites operate off of advertising revenue, so it is in their best interests to keep the site up and running as long as possible.

The general process is simple. You go to the site where your copyright is being infringed and note the URL, or address, of the infringing content, then you send a notice to the provider stating that you are making a takedown request under the DMCA and asking them to remove the infringing content.

Here’s where things get sticky. Just because they have to (or should) adhere to the DMCA, doesn’t mean they have to make it easy. Many sites demand proof of copyright ownership, a statement of ownership, the URL of the infringing content, contact information, etc. In short, they’re going to make you jump through some hoops, in hope that you’ll just give up and go away.

The process isn’t that hard. So for the rest of this post, I’m going to take you step by step through the process of a DMCA removal request, using my own works and my own takedown template as resources. Please feel free to copy my takedown template and modify it for your own purposes. I’ve have pretty good success with it, and I hope you will too.

 

Step One – Find The Infringing Content

This is pretty easy. You can do it through any search engine. I’m going to use Bing, but I know I’m in the minority. You can use whatever search engine you want. Do a quick search for your title, and the words download or torrent. That’ll give you a quick overview of sites that have your work posted without your consent. Unless, of course, you are using torrents to legitimately distribute your work, which is a subject for another time.

These are the search results for The Last Swordmage, my first novel. (Legitimately available for purchase from Amazon.com):

SearchResults

As you can see, there are a lot of torrent sites out there. Getting rid of all of them is like playing a never ending game of whack-a-pirate. You’ll never get to all of them, but if you can keep on top of the most popular ones, it might help. If nothing else, it’ll probably make you feel better about being proactive about it, instead of just letting it happen.

 

Step Two – Recon

The next step actually involves clicking on those links and seeing if your copyright is being infringed, so let’s take a look at one of these.

TorrentsResults

 

Now, I know for a fact that my book, The Last Swordmage, is in the first of these search results, because I’ve requested this same torrent to be taken down on other sites. So I’m going to go ahead and click on the Fantasy_Trilogy’s_&_Series torrent, so I can show you the content and where my copyright is being infringed.

 

SmokingGun

 

Yep. There it is. The smoking gun, as it were. Unfortunately, Ed Greenwood, JV Jones, and Robin Hobb are getting caught in the crossfire as well. They’ve all been lumped into this torrent, so the copyrights on all of our works are being infringed upon (unless they’ve chosen to freely distribute their books). So now that we know my copyright is being infringed, now we have to do something about it.

 

Step Three – Gather Your Intel

Once you’ve found the offending material, you want to make a note of the web address, or the URL where the offending material is located. You’re going to need this for your DMCA Takedown Request, which we’ll go into later. For now, let’s just make a copy of the address that we need.

ContentAddress

 

That’s what we want. That address will help us identify the content we want to submit for removal. For now, make a copy of the address and put it someplace like a scratch file in your favorite text editor. We’ll come back to it later.

 

Step Four – Find The Right Contact

Most torrent sites have some sort of DMCA removal procedure. On some sites, it’s easier to find than others. Common places to look are at the bottom of the search page or torrent details page as well as inside a dedicated help page, or site map. Take a look around. You should be able to find it. If you can’t, let me know and I’ll be happy to see if I can figure it out for you. In this case, there is a handy link right at the bottom of the page. So we’re going to click on it:

CopyrightDMCA

Doing so gives us a list of their removal requirements and the email address where we are going to send our removal request. Torrents.fm seems to have pretty reasonable requirements. They ask for decent grammar, the URL of the content to remove, and contact information. All pretty standard stuff. Many torrent sites WILL NOT ACCEPT removal requests from free service providers, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo. You’ll need your own domain name and domain email to have your content removed from these sites.

RemovalRequirements

 

Step Five – Setting Up Your DMCA

There is a certain art to these things. Very few people are willing to tell you exactly what information to include in your DMCA takedown request, and templates vary wildly from source to source. I’ve had about a 95% success rate with mine, so I’ll share it with you. Please feel free to copy it and modify it to suit your needs. Here’s my template:

Pursuant to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), this communication serves as a statement that:

1. I am the exclusive rights holder for the following titles:
The Last Swordmage, ISBN #978-1481830447, ASIN #B00AR187RA, published on 12/27/2012
The Darkest Hour, ISBN #978-1483921945, ASIN #B00C2YUYPS, published on 03/27/2013
The Pegasus's Lament, ISBN #978-1495985393, ASIN #B00FGHLC6I, published on 09/26/2013
Volinette's Song, ISBN #978-0692201084, ASIN #B00JNTIKZQ, published on 04/12/2014

2. These exclusive rights are being violated by material available upon your site at the following URL(s):
--paste URL to remove here--

3. I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by the 
copyright holder, the copyright holder's agent, or the law;

4. Under penalty of perjury in a United States court of law, I state that the information contained in 
this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on the behalf of the exclusive rights 
holder for the material in question.

5. I may be contacted by the following methods:
Martin F. Hengst  PO Box 86, Windsor, PA 17366
(717) 495-2472
legal@martinfhengst.com

I hereby request that you remove or disable access to this material as it appears on your service in as 
expedient a fashion as possible. Thank you.

Best Wishes,

Martin F. Hengst, Independent Author
email: legal@martinfhengst.com
website: http://martinfhengst.com

Obviously, you’re going to want to change the first section to include the information about your books and fill in the URL of the offending content. We’ll do that via email in the next step, which is actually sending the DMCA takedown request.

 

Step Six – Taking Action

So now we’re ready to make the request. I’m going to be using my domain email address, legal@martinfhengst.com, to submit the request. Torrents.fm, the site we are requesting removal from, doesn’t specifically state that they don’t accept free email accounts, but I’m much more comfortable erring on the side of caution. Here’s the email set up with the template, all ready to go:

EmailOut

The image is a little small, but hopefully you can see where I pasted the URL that we copied earlier for the removal. I’ve also addressed the email to the address requested in the takedown requirements. All that’s left to do now is click send, and wait.

 

Step Seven – Hurry Up And Wait

What happens next varies, based on which torrent site you’re dealing with. Some of them will send you an email letting you know that they’ve taken action on your request. Others won’t send anything. The best thing you can do is wait three or four days and check the site’s search results for your book and see if it’s been removed. If it has, you’re done for now…until someone else posts a copy of your book and you have to do it all over again. If not, you start all over from the top.

If this sounds inefficient and redundant, you’re not wrong. Sometimes it can take a few tries to get a takedown request honored. Sometimes, it won’t ever happen. However, I feel that it’s better than sitting on your hands doing nothing.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’ll always help the best I can.

Volinette’s Song – Available NOW!

Posted by on Apr 13, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Volinette’s Song – Available NOW!

Volinette’s Song, the next novel in the Magic of Solendrea series, is now available for sale on Amazon.com.

Volinette Terris has everything most girls could want: a famous family, plenty of money, and a career as a talented musician. No one would expect her to risk losing it all to try and become a mage, but when the School of Sorcery opens for the Trial of Admission, that’s exactly what she does.

If only she’d known that winning a place in the Academy of Arcane Arts and Sciences would be the least of her problems. Now she finds herself accused of murder, tormented by her fellow students, and implicated in the theft of a mystical artifact that could bring about the end of the world.

And that’s just the first semester!

Purchase your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JNTIKZQ

If you read it and enjoy it, please remember to review it favorably on Amazon. Your favorable review is the best complement an author can receive.

Please remember to share this exciting news with any friends or family who might be interested in reading an adventurous coming of age story.

Good Things on the Horizon

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Good Things on the Horizon

It’s been a good bit since I posted to the blog. I’ve been remiss, so I’ll try to make up for that with a bunch of good news all in one post.

First and foremost, Volinette’s Song is VERY close to release. Close enough that it should be available for purchase from Amazon next week sometime. Right now, I think it’ll probsbly be ready in the beginning of the week, but it’s possible that the release date could be pushed back. I’ll let everyone know when I have a better idea of what the firm date will be.

Next, the Solendrea short story anthology. I’m working on several stories to get this finished up and placed into the production queue. This one won’t take as long as Volinette’s Song did. I’d say a month or two to be released, at most. Once I get that one done, I’ll post an appropriate update.

Untitled Sci-Fi Project #1 – This is my first project co-authoring with another author. It’s been a fun experience so far, and I’m hoping that we continue to move forward with putting this book together at a fair clip. Like the rest of my untitled projects (see later in this post) I’m not ready to put a title to it yet, but it is definitely taking shape as a good story.

Untitled Sci-Fi Project #2 – Because my life wouldn’t be complete without throwing my hat into the dystopian-future-zombie-outbreak ring, I have another novel length project that I’m working on that deals with just that. I’m hoping to have this one done by mid-summer, although it may be closer to autumn at this point.

Last, but not least is Untitled Sci-Fi Project #3. This one is a little different in that it isn’t something that I’ve ever considered writing before. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it yet, other than that it is a near future sci-fi story with a strong emphasis on a virtual world.

So that’s the five minute overview of what is coming up on the horizon. Hopefully it sounds as exciting for you to read as it does for me to write. :)

I’ll check in with more soon.

~MFHengst

Volinette’s Song – Cover Reveal

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in News | Comments Off

Volinette’s Song – Cover Reveal

Ladies and Gentlemen: the cover for Volinette’s Song, the next title in the Magic of Solendrea series. I hope you enjoy it. I know I do.

cover_mock

Putting copies of Swordmage out in the World…

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in News | Comments Off

Putting copies of Swordmage out in the World…

Putting copies of Swordmage out in the World…

When the family and I went to New York in January, we took the train from Harrisburg to New York. Aside from re-discovering what a beautiful country and state we live in, I also discovered that there are caches of books out in the world that people seek out and swap books from.

The one I found was inside the train station. It was an unassuming bookshelf, much beaten and weatherworn, with a simple card on the top that said, paraphrased, that all the books there were free to take, so long as they were passed along to someone else when the reader who picked it up was done with it.

I love that idea. I love it so much that I’ve set about making promotional copies with my own label that explain the process. I’m going to drop a couple copies at that book cache and let them out into the world. I want to seek out others, so I can do the same with those. I think it’s a fun way to reach a few people I might not otherwise reach.

If anyone out there would like a copy to include in their own cache or book exchange, please email me at mfh@martinfhengst.com. I will see to it that you get a promotional copy of the book with the label attached for you to drop off in your travels. In addition, anyone who “drops” a promotional copy of Swordmage in this way and emails me the details of when, where, and how they dropped it off, will receive a free novel of their choice from my catalog in the future.

Just a little something to think about the next time you’re on the train.

MFHengst

BookBub Promo, Volinette’s Song Beta, and a Map of the Academy…

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in News | Comments Off

BookBub Promo, Volinette’s Song Beta, and a Map of the Academy…

Today’s a big day for Solendrea. Lots of news coming as we get closer to a release date for Volinette’s Song. Here is what is going on today:

BookBub Promotion

BookBub featured The Last Swordmage in their free ebook promotion email and Facebook posts today. This could open up the world of Solendrea to a lot more readers and I’m excited to see how it goes. If you know someone who might enjoy a free copy of The Last Swordmage, please let them know they can grab it today, courtesy of BookBub.

Volinette’s Song Beta Readers

For those of you who have been wondering about beta reading opportunities for Volinette’s Song, here are the details: the beta draft is nearing completion and will probably be done in the next week or so. Once that’s done, I’ll do an internal review with my personal advisors (the alpha readers, I guess you could call them). Once the quality control read is completed, I will be looking for a limited number of beta readers to have a run through the story. At this time, I believe I’ll need between 5-10 people to read the book and give me their opinions on plot, pacing, character development, and their overall impression of the story. If you’d like to be considered for one of these slots, please email me at mfh@martinfhengst.com, put Volinette’s Song Beta Reader in the title, and give me a brief introduction and what special qualifications (professional editor, copywriter, etc.) you possess (if any). Please not that special qualifications ARE NOT required to be selected as part of the beta reader pool. It just helps me get a good mix of people.

Academy of Arcane Arts and Sciences

I know that when I read some of my favorite books, I like knowing as much as I can about the world, the people who live there, and the places that my favorite characters visit. In that vein, I’m posting a picture of a map I sketched out for the areas of Blackbeach that surround the Great Tower of High Magic. This ties into Volinette’s Song as well, as there are a number of locations visited here that make an appearance ( or several appearances ) in the book. I hope you find it interesting.

MFHengst

AcademyDetail

The Pegasus’s Lament – Paperback Now Available on Amazon.com

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in News | Comments Off

The Pegasus’s Lament – Paperback Now Available on Amazon.com

The Pegasus’s Lament is now available on paperback through Amazon.com. If you’ve been waiting to complete your physical collection of the Swordmage Trilogy, now is your opportunity to do so.

As always, signed copies can be purchased directly from me. Just drop me a message via social media or through the contact form on martinfhengst.com and I’ll be happy to assist you with arrangements.

MFHengst

Changing Direction – New Facebook Page & More

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in News | Comments Off

Changing Direction – New Facebook Page & More

It’s been a busy couple of days behind the computer screen. I’ve put together three chapters of Volinette’s Song, I’ve gotten some notes put down for the short story anthology, and I got to put some work in on some science fiction projects I’ve been working on. The science fiction projects are one of the main reasons I’m writing this article.

Solendrea is a world that is very near and dear to my heart. I’ve been working on some of the stories for the Magic of Solendrea series since I was in high school (23 years, for those of you who might be counting) and I’ve known some of the characters that live there, characters like Faxon, for even longer. Tiadaria and her adventures have become near and dear to many readers around the world, so I can understand some unease when I say that I’m switching directions.

I just want to clarify that Solendrea isn’t going away. I have notes for at least nine more Solendrea novels and ideas for half a dozen more. The Solendrea you know and love isn’t going away any time soon. I still have many stories to tell in that universe and we’re not done this ride yet. Nor will we be for quite some time.

However, there are also some other stories that I have to tell. Stories that involve people and places who don’t fit in to the Solendrea universe. That’s the cause for this slight shift in direction. Instead of focusing solely on the Solendrea brand, the Solendrea website, and the Solendrea Facebook page, I’m working to solidify my online presence under my new website (http://martinfhengst.com) and my new Facebook page (http://facebook.com/martinfhengst).

None of this changes what I’m writing or what projects are in the works. It does, however, allow me to reach all of my readers in one place, which will be beneficial for those who have expressed interest in reading all the new works, Solendrea based or not. I invite all of you to come and ‘like’ the new Facebook page. You’ll be quite welcome there. The Solendrea page will remain where it is, but it may not be updated as often.

Thanks for reading, and look forward to more Solendrea goodness in March 2014.

MFHengst

Big Changes Coming!

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in News | Comments Off

Big Changes Coming!

For those of you who have stopped by either this site recently, you’ll notice a lot has changed. I’m in the process of converting my main website from Solendrea.com to here. I felt that, with two science-fiction novels in the works, that it was time to expand past the footprint that the Solendrea site provided me.

Don’t worry! This doesn’t mean I’m leaving Solendrea behind. It just means that I’m making room for even more worlds to adventure in.

Look forward to more changes in the near future.

~MFHengst

The Pegasus’s Lament – Countdown Deal

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in News | Comments Off

The Pegasus’s Lament – Countdown Deal

For those of you who took advantage of the recent deals to get The Last Swordmage and The Darkest Hour at reduced prices, now is your chance to finish out the Swordmage Trilogy.

The Pegasus’s Lament will be on sale for a reduced price until February 22nd. Remember, this is a countdown deal, so the sooner you take advantage of the deal, the better your price will be.

~MFHengst