Has Your eBook Been Pirated? What To Do: Step 2

PirateIllustration_OpBy Kathryn Miller Goldman, Esq.: I recently wrote a post for this blog called Has Your eBook Been Pirated? What To Do: Step 1. Molly had identified General eBooks as a website that offered pirated ebooks for free download, and her books were on the site without permission.

In that post, I explained how I had Molly’s work removed from that site so her readers could take similar action. The plan was that I would come back this month and explain how to eliminate the illegal download links altogether, not just make them disappear.

Instead, in this post I’d like to talk about how I got it wrong. As much as it may look like a pirate site, General ebooks isn’t a “pirate” in the classic sense. General eBooks is not in the business of distributing free stolen ebooks, thereby depriving you of sales. Nevertheless, it is a site that I believe is engaged in online criminal activity. They are tarnishing your good name by using it – and the title of your book – in what seems to be an illegal enterprise.

Report on last month’s link removal requests

The General eBooks site is designed deceptively to make it look like a distributor of ebooks and other digital content. They include actual Kobo and Amazon links, and below them on the webpage a link for unauthorized, presumably “free” downloads.

On Molly’s behalf, I submitted link removal requests to General eBooks so that the supposed illegal downloads of her books from that site would be stopped. As a result of my request, the free download links were removed. As I mentioned last month, however, the links still exist. They are just no longer visible.

I offered to submit link removal requests on behalf of any readers who left a comment on that post and signed up for my Digital Artists Rip-Off Protection Report. (That offer still stands. Sign up for my report, leave a comment below that you are interested, and I will follow up.) I submitted nearly 100 takedown requests to General eBooks last month on behalf of readers of this blog. In addition, many readers successfully submitted requests in their own name using the language from that post.

Links to the supposed “free” downloads of every ebook for which I submitted a request were removed. A spot check reveals that the removed links have not gone back up. Again, the links still exist. They are just no longer visible. I kept a record of the URL for each link and I can still revisit those locations.

Not only were the free download links removed, the entire page for each author on whose behalf I requested removal has disappeared (except for those who may have had a co-author). That’s a good thing. In my view, no author would want her name associated with General eBooks.

If General eBooks is NOT a pirate site, what is it?

The fact that the legitimate links were removed as well as the free download links suggests that General eBooks was only really interested in having users click on the free download button. General eBooks is not interested in selling books or being a conduit for distributing illegal copies. I believe that General eBooks exists for another purpose entirely: malware.

At least that’s my conclusion after looking at the matter closely. It is highly likely that visitors who go to General eBooks looking for a copy of a book and who click on the free download button will end up downloading and installing malicious software on their computer. A full report on my investigation into General eBooks and an explanation of “classic” pirate sites can be found here: How BitTorrent Technology is Used to Pirate Copyrighted Material – A Primer for Writers.

Even though General eBooks is not, in my opinion, a classic pirate site, having your books and name on the site is not a good thing. You should take the steps outlined in the earlier post to have your work and name removed.

Policing your intellectual property and your name is important to protect your rights. If you fail to protect your rights, you may lose them. One way to do it is to set up Google Alerts for your name and your book titles. Google will email you each time your alert is mentioned on the Internet. Then, if you find your book on a torrent site, you can file a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) removal request with Google and other search engines. Here is Google’s DMCA form. If Google receives a sufficient number of takedown requests for a particular site, their new algorithm may downrank the torrent site in search engine results pages.

Suppressing search result rankings may be the best option for an individual author with respect to the problem of work appearing on illegal torrent sites. A concerted effort from a community like the readers of this blog could very well prove to be effective.

You should be aware that personally identifiable information related to the takedown request will be made public by Google.

Kathryn-Goldman_OpKathryn Goldman is an intellectual property attorney who protects writers, artists, filmmakers, and businesses from having their work and art ripped off. Since she’s a lawyer, she has to mention that she’s not *your* lawyer (so this article isn’t technically legal advice), but you’re still invited to download her Digital Artists Rip-Off Report You can also follow her on Twitter @KathrynGoldman

Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! I will not share your email address with anyone – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, please follow @mollygreene on Twitter! And last but not least, this original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected. Mwah! Thank you so much.







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42 Responses to Has Your eBook Been Pirated? What To Do: Step 2

  1. Belinda Pollard February 9, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    Thanks Molly and Kathryn. My book Poison Bay appeared on all the torrent sites within days of publication. Man, they’re fast!

    Just signed up for your report, Kathryn, and happy to add my voice to any group takedown request.

    • Molly Greene February 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

      Rats!! So sorry to hear that, Belinda. Argggghhh!

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      Thanks for signing up Belinda. I appreciate your support of a group takedown request.


  2. Tracey Alvarez February 9, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks for posting this Molly – and for your offer, Kathryn. I’ve just checked General e-books and ALL my books are there – grrrr. I would love you to file a DMCA takedown notice on my behalf!

    • Kathryn Goldman February 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

      Tracey, I’ll be in touch tomorrow and we’ll get the ball rolling.

  3. Lori L. Clark February 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    Once you get them all removed from General e-books… take a look at Torrentz. If you want to talk about shady activity, they are awful. Their excuse is that THEY don’t actually upload the pirated books, movies, music, etc. etc. etc. so therefor they are not doing anything illegal. They will remove it if you ask, but you have to jump through hoops to even figure out how to ask, then you have to follow their instructions TO THE T to get them to remove it… oh, and you have to ask them politely or they won’t do it. (Their rules, not mine.)

    That being said, you can take it down at General e-books but that’s not going to stop it from appearing on Torrents. It’s like playing whack-a-mole.

    As much as I’d love to see it stopped completely, I’m inclined to believe that it can’t be stopped.

    • Kathryn Goldman February 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm #


      “Whack-a-Mole” is an apt description. Perhaps it can’t be stopped, but suppressing torrent sites in the search results ranks can be effective.


  4. Judy Nickles February 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    I found ALL of my books–five traditionally published including 2 under a pen name: Gwyneth Greer– and 2 series indie pubbed! I signed up for/downloaded your report. I really would like them taken down–but I guess my question is, what’ to keep new books I publish in the future from being grabbed? Thanks!

    • Kathryn Goldman February 9, 2015 at 4:39 pm #


      I’ll be in touch with you tomorrow to start the link removal process.

      I can’t speak to future action General eBooks will take, but none of the authors on whose behalf I have requested link removal have new books listed (as far as I know). And Molly’s latest release is not up there.


  5. Lori L. Clark February 9, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    Re: Above post: I found 2 pages of free downloads for my book… and no way to remove them that I can see.

    • Molly Greene February 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

      So sorry, Lori! I had to remove the links from your comment, though, I don’t want anyone to click through from my website.

  6. Molly Greene February 9, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    I just found an interesting article on WIkihow: http://www.wikihow.com/Combat-Book-Piracy – curious if this process works – thoughts?

    • Kathryn Goldman February 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm #


      I think point #6 is very interesting. You need to exercise judgment about who the person is who has added your book to a torrent site. Is it basically a mis-informed good person, or is it someone who believes that everything (including your work) should be free?

      I think that article has good action steps.


  7. Brenda Webb Bigbee February 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Hi, One of my books is on General Books (Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love by Brenda J. Webb) and I sent a request to you with the last article to please take it down. I looked today and it is still there so if you can have them take it down I would appreciate it so much.

    • Molly Greene February 9, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

      Brenda, I removed the link to your ebook because I don’t want folks to click through from my website, but I just forwarded the link to Kathryn. Did you sign up for her report?

    • Kathryn Goldman February 9, 2015 at 5:18 pm #


      I’ll be in touch with you tomorrow by email. I’ll make another request and we’ll get it taken care of.


  8. Aimee Gross February 9, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    My novel showed up on mobilism.com shortly after I put it upon Amazon. Apparently someone requests a title, and whoever ‘fulfills’ the request is paid in virtual currency. The legal page for mobilism.comclaims they bear no liability re:copyright infringement because they act only as a host. Is there any hope of curtailing this sort of piracy? Not sure if folks get my book or malware, afraid to download to see.
    Thanks for any information you share, I appreciate your work on behalf of creative people,

    P.S. My mistake, the site is mobilism.org. There are an astounding number of titles there…

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 8:34 am #


      I believe there is a way to attack the type of piracy found on mobilism.

      Thank you for signing up for my report. I will send you an email and we can talk about the options available to you and how I can help you with them.


  9. Nola Bogie February 9, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    I just came across your website through Linkedin. I have just completed W8BENs with 3 American publishers, and Kobo. Not published yet, but grateful we have teamwork like yours.Just learning how to watermark my digital art, even though I have registered copyright, and while searching, discovered there are watermark removers, as well. Hmm.
    What I don’t understand abut the website you suspect it is using malware. Could General e-books be spyware, or Trojan horse working from inside tracking personal information like banking/credit cards,on-line banking, or even on line income tax? Last April, we had Heartbleed which actually forced Canada’s version of IRS (Revenue Canada) to shut down.
    Is it known where General e-books are? I even hesitate to visit them out of curiosity. If the books are free, then what on earth are they really doing?

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 9:43 am #


      The malware could be any one, or all, of those evil things. General eBooks is located in the US, but the URLs to which a user is redirected are located outside of the country.


  10. Anne R. Allen February 9, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    This is absolutely fascinating stuff. I had no idea these torrent sites are using the stolen books to install malware. I’ll link to this post from my blog in a piece I’m doing next month on copyright.

    Thanks, Molly and Kathryn for two really informative posts!

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 5:52 am #

      You’re welcome, Anne. I look forward to reading your copyright post next month.

  11. Sue Coletta February 10, 2015 at 4:41 am #

    How terrifying, to have your books pirated. I can’t even imagine. All that hard work and someone feels they can just steal it? Disgusting behavior!

  12. Sue Coletta February 10, 2015 at 4:42 am #

    How terrifying, to have your books pirated. I can’t even imagine. All that hard work and someone feels they can just steal it? Disgusting behavior! Important info here. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Kathryn. I hope I never need you, but will bookmark this page just in case.

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 10:56 am #


      There’s really only one consolation I can offer — someone who takes your work when they know they should pay for it is not the kind of reader you want, really.

      Thanks for the comment.


  13. Cheryl Kaye Tardif February 10, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    Hi Kathryn,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and results.

    Unfortunately, I’ve learned that issuing takedown notices can be a full-time job once you have a dozen or more titles. And the links end up back on almost all of these sites within a couple of months. It’s a temporary fix to a serious problem.

    I agree that General Ebooks also has malware-infected files. Authors should take care NOT to click on links on these sites. General Ebooks is a “feeder site” — the virtual back door to pirated copies. Though they may not host the actual books, they are participating in ebook piracy.

    The most frustrating thing is that you can issue all the takedown notices in the world, report sites to Google and even to web hosts, but there’s no guarantee that will work to eliminate your book links.

    Until anti-piracy acts are made stronger and there’s a way to shut a site down permanently, we’re only chasing our tails. The laws need to change. Website hosts need to be made more responsible for the content they allow on their sites. And Google? Well, they don’t seem all that interested in shutting down sites that participate in piracy.

    I am interested in how much you charge for your takedown service and what it entails. How much followup do you do afterward? And what happens if a title ends up back up on the same site?

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 9:53 am #


      I understand your frustration at the lack of remedies available to writers to protect their books from piracy.

      I do not have “a takedown service.” I am not charging anyone who leaves a comment on this post and who signs up for my report to issue a takedown notice to General eBooks.

      Ultimately, I hope to innovate ways that may be more effective to protect creative works from piracy. One thought that has crossed my mind is a class action alleging contributory infringement against US based websites. Another idea is to develop an automated, economically reasonable takedown mechanism.

      In the meantime, I’m doing takedown requests one at a time for free for those writers who ask me.


      • Cheryl Kaye Tardif February 10, 2015 at 10:55 am #

        Hi Kathryn,

        Many thanks for your reply–and your generosity!

        If you ever pursue a class action suit, I’d be interested in knowing about it. Not only do I have over a dozen works that are regularly pirated, I’m the publisher at Imajin Books and many of my authors’ books have also been pirated.



  14. Vicki Hudson February 10, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Molly and Katherine –
    Thanks again and thanks for this follow up.
    I’ve signed up for Katherine’s report and posted a comment on the first blog post on this. But, here are my books again –
    No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique and the second ebook – Chow.
    Thanks for the assist.

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 9:59 am #


      Sorry if I missed you on the first go ’round. I’ll be in touch by email and we’ll get the process started.


      • Vicki Hudson February 10, 2015 at 10:39 am #

        Thanks. Btw, I’ve signed up twice for your e-report but neither time received an email. Not in the spam folder either.


        • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 11:05 am #


          Sorry about the problem. I’ll take a look contact you by email.


  15. Deborah Jay February 10, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    Hi Kathryn,
    When I was last in contact with you, there were 2 copies of one of my titles on General eBooks, and you’ve succeeded in getting one removed, but the other is still there. There are no obvious links attached to it, and if you click the cover it takes you to the B&N page for the book. At least that means it would be sold legitimately!
    As to the malware, I’m in an author group which has made this discovery too – one of the authors clicked on her pirated book and her security software flagged it up as dangerous – we since discovered that other people with less diligent security programmes, had indeed downloaded malware when they investigated their own pirated books.
    That does, indeed, seem to be the purpose behind General eBooks.
    Is there never any end to the traps for the unwary? Or the first time, inexperienced author?

    • Kathryn Goldman February 10, 2015 at 9:55 am #


      The criminals are always one step ahead of the victims (and the enforcers, for that matter).

      No one should click on General eBooks links.


  16. Cheryl Kaye Tardif February 10, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    I too have had problems getting the confirmation email for your newsletter.

  17. A. F. Stewart February 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I have several books listed on that site, mostly my free stuff, but my new book has popped there, as well as an anthology where one of my stories is published. I’ve dealt with them before, and managed to get some other books removed, and get the free download links removed, but I’d be interested in your help or advice in getting the rest off the site.

    • Kathryn Goldman February 11, 2015 at 6:03 am #


      I’ll be in touch with you by email to get the process started.


  18. Fay Risner February 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    After reading you information I checked General eBook site and found quite a few of my books on it. I really would like them taken from the site. I’ve signed up just now for your ereport. Thanks for alerting everyone.

  19. Jo Robinson February 10, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    After googling it, I’ve found one of my books, African Me & Satellite TV, on quite a few pirate sites, as well as for free PDF download on what seem to be blog sites. Most of these sites have immediately had my malware system give me a malware blocked report. I’ve signed up for Kathryn’s report.

  20. Jane Lockshin February 11, 2015 at 4:15 am #

    I signed up for your report and will read it with interest. Also checked the General ebook site and all of my eBook directories appear to be on the site. I searched by my name “Jane Lockshin” and received 153+ results, clearly old and new editions. I would appreciate your sending requests for link removal on my behalf.

    BTW MalwareBytes, my malware program, blocked malicious downloads.

    Thank you for the information.

  21. Susan Jennings February 14, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    Molly, it is very generous of you to help authors remove their work from pirate sites. I read your first article, smugly I might add, and then found two of my e publications on the eGeneral site. Please could you ask them to remove the books or any books under my name Susan A. Jennings. Blue Heron Mysteries Book 1 and a short story, Little Dog Lost, Reiki Found. The short story is on Kobo as a give away does that make a difference?
    Thank you, I honestly did not know what to do about it.

    • Molly Greene February 14, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      Thanks, Susan, and I’m so sorry to hear that your books are there, too. Sign up for Kathryn’s report and she will contact you offline and help you remove them!