No matter what happens there are always two sides to any situation and when either is blind to the other it can become a very negative situation.

At the end of June an author friend of mine emailed me to tell me they’d found their books and every single one of mine on a site called LendInk. I’d link to it, but it’s recently been taken down. Of course at first blush the site looked like every other pirate site that was offering my books for free. Only … it wasn’t. It was a matchmaking service for kindle and nook owners who legitimately purchased books and were willing to lend them and readers who wanted to borrow them. (Please see THIS post for an explanation of how it works.)

But the site made authors noodgie. It’s scary watching your hard work being downloaded for free at sites where they don’t have your permission. Pirating is like a flu bug making you puke and weakening your resolve to keep writing.

So I completely understand when authors started banding together on twitter and facebook, sending DMCA notices to take down their books at LendInk. The fact is, they reacted before reading the fine print. (They had actually given Barnes & Noble and Amazon permission to have their books lent.) Hey, it happens. Authors are carrying a lot of responsibility for their careers these days. More, I believe, than any other time in publishing history. It’s a tough business with so many trying to carve out a career in the crazy noise of so many books.

And now LendInk is down and people are pissed … angry enough to post author names with twitter and facebook posts. (I’m not giving the link to that post.) One commenter mentioned he went to an indie store with the list and pulled all the authors’ books from the shelves. Others are boycotting the authors listed in protest.

And the whole thing makes me sad. Yes, LendInk was completely operating within Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s terms of service. Yes, they were making a small amount of money as Amazon Associates when someone clicked through their site and made a purchase on Amazon. Yes, readers were enjoying their site to find books to lend/borrow. BUT, for some authors, it smacked of, if not breaking the rules, definitely pushing the envelope of what Amazon and B&N had originally intended with their lending ability.

I completely understand why DMCA notices were sent. I understand why readers (and many authors who like the lending option) are upset the site was taken down. But making matters worse by punishing authors who felt they were only protecting their intellectual property seems to me, to be pushing things just a little too far.

Seriously as a middle child I’d just like to see everyone drop their pitchforks and torches, grab a coke and start singing:

Techdirt has a great explanation of how the whole thing unfolded (and I particularly admire their disclaimer at the beginning of the post).

*** NOTE: My apologies on missing a couple of posts the last couple of weeks. I’m working REALLY hard to edit my next book and seriously … these vampires are just NOT cooperating. But I’ll try to be better next week.  ***

0 Responses to Why Does it Get so Confusing?

  • It was very confusing at first. It was nice to find out it wasn’t a pirate.

    Will you get that vampire book done, I’d like to read it. 😉

    • Amber – Very confusing. And regardless of how many blogged about its legitimacy, many authors panicked.

      (And I’m trying … really!)

  • Thanks for getting to the bottom of it, Nina!

  • Everyone seems to grab the pitchforks first. But I do understand when we are all, well not me, but most people are on the alert for pirates. It’s what we’ve come to expect.
    I don’t know how the owners of the site could have handled it differently…

    • Julia – There was no way around what happened. I was mistaken in saying the site owner didn’t have FAQ’s … they did. And authors tried to educate authors. I’m not sure how this whole thing is going to shake out.

      And yeah, sometimes I think chasing pirates is a lost cause. I can’t lie, I do appreciate those that do and they manage to get a whole pirate site taken down.

  • Interesting post, Nina. The pitchforks have definitely got to go. It seems everyone is on a hair trigger these days. If only that fine print hadn’t been so fine, this might not have gotten so heated.

    This story reminds me of back when Napster was shut down. We were so angry that our free music was taken away! That was before there were laws regarding downloading copyrighted content. I remember feeling very bitter toward Metallica for spearheading the effort to shut it down, but now I would never steal music (or books, or any other artistic content). Now, it’s wrong. But then, it was a new frontier and boundaries were being drawn. The boundaries are not finished being drawn, and until they are there will be eruptions like this!

    • Meg – Publishing is definitely following in the footsteps of music. It will be interesting to see what happens as the digital book industry shakes out. I suspect we’re going to see some regulation as we move forward then legitimate sites like LendInk won’t be shut down.

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