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Combating Piracy in the World of Self-Publishing

With the proliferation of digital platforms and channels, book publishing has undergone a significant transformation. Advances in technology have opened new opportunities for authors to self-publish their works and reach a global audience. There are many platforms with which authors can publish and distribute their own books including Amazon Kindle, Google Play books, Smashwords, Lulu and IngramSpark to name a few.  However, while this has made books easier to publish and more accessible, it has also exposed them to widespread piracy. 

The Impact of Piracy

The consequences of piracy can be severe, causing loss of revenue, damage to reputations, and undermines an author’s control over their IP and diminishes the value of their work. It has a disproportionate effect on self-published authors as many lack the resources and knowledge to deal with the threat. Additionally, self published authors face the threat of removal from publishing platforms if copies of their books are found on piracy sites.

The cost of piracy to the wider publishing industry is immense. Estimates vary, but one study from Association of American Publishers (AAP) reports that the publishing industry in the United States lost approximately $2.9 billion to piracy in 2020. 

Moreover, the increase in piracy is likely to continue. Piracy in the publishing industry has seen a marked rise in the last three years, with a notable increase following the first lockdowns of the pandemic. Significantly, in May 2020 publishing overtook film as the second most in-demand media sector for digital piracy, behind TV.

Steps to Protect Your IP

Fortunately, there are steps that self-published authors can take to protect their intellectual property and combat piracy.

By taking a proactive approach to protecting their content, authors can actively address the issue, though this will require a multi-faceted approach. This can include using technologies such as digital rights management (DRM), monitoring the internet for instances of piracy or infringement, and pursuing legal action against pirates.  

1. Protect all of your content as early as possible.

Don’t just protect your most popular titles, ensure that all of  your books are protected. And don’t wait until you find pirated copies of your content, be proactive and protect your content before you experience piracy. It’s important that you get ahead of the issue. 

2. Register your work with the appropriate authorities.

Registering your work with the appropriate authorities can help protect your IP rights. In the US, the Copyright Office offers copyright registration for authors ( Similar services are offered by national government bodies including the Intellectual Property Office Intellectual Property Office in the UK (  Registration can help establish evidence of ownership, making it easier to enforce IP rights in the event of piracy.

3. Engage in Active Monitoring. 

Authors can monitor popular file-sharing platforms, torrent sites, and social media networks to identify instances of piracy. Reporting infringing links and seeking their removal can help limit the spread of unauthorised copies.  There are several tools available that can help you track your ebooks’ distribution, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown Notice process. These tools can help you identify and respond to pirated copies of your work. For details, see some useful information on the Copyright Alliance’s site: 

4. Take legal action if necessary.

Many sites will respond to DMCA takedown notices, however, taking legal action may sometimes be necessary. This can involve sending cease-and-desist letters, filing copyright infringement lawsuits, or working with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute offenders. It is essential to seek legal advice before taking any legal action.

All of the above measures can help to reduce the piracy of your content. However, for a self published or first time author, this can be quite daunting and take up a huge amount of time and carry a considerable admin and cost burden. 

Anti-piracy vendors do exist that can help reduce this burden and can automate this process of trawling the internet, issuing takedown notices and getting infringing content removed at scale. Vendors should also be able to remove content from eBay, Amazon, Google and other ‘grey’ market sites.


Digital piracy poses significant challenges for self-published authors, impacting their revenue, reputation, and overall motivation. However, by adopting proactive strategies, engaging with their audience, and actively protecting their rights, self-published authors can navigate this landscape and preserve the integrity of their creative work. Furthermore, a collective effort from the publishing industry, including robust legal frameworks and public awareness campaigns, is essential to combating digital piracy and fostering an environment where authors can thrive and continue

Who are MUSO?

MUSO is a market leading content protection solutions provider for the publishing industry.
Our founding vision was to empower creative people to be more creative by taking away the time-consuming problem of piracy with best-in-class technology.

Our automated anti-piracy services are designed specifically for independent publishers and authors. Our affordable and flexible pricing enables the protection of an entire catalogue or a single book.  

We automatically monitor for illegal links and infringements and issues takedown notices, which remove piracy at scale across a wide range of piracy websites and search listings. To find out more, click here


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