Another “For Dummies” author was kind enough to reply to my email about the lawsuit over their book. Sue Jenkins, author of Dreamweaver CS5 All-In-One for Dummies, while not exactly hopping on the pirate ship was at least as cordial in her response:
Thanks for writing. Yes, I’m aware that all seven of my books are being pirated. The legal department for each publisher generally takes care of lawsuits, since they’re the owners of the works. I wish I could earn some money from all the pirated books out there, but unfortunately the author is often the last person to make a dime in the book publishing game.
And I responded thusly…
I understand that the “owner” of many books–particularly in series like “For Dummies”is not the author themselves. This is too bad! It’s funny how we are always told that copyright protects authors and artists…
As an author I’m sure you are aware of the 2009 study by O’Reilly media that found a lift in sales for books that were pirated, as well as all the individual stories of authors experiencing increased sales only after their books were shared.
Is there no chance that an author can have any input when a publisher goes to court over their book?
cheapass-in-residence at www.CheapAssFiction.com
Heard this in response.
Copyright protects the business or person who submits the copyright paperwork to the US Government. In the case of most big books like mine, that is done by the publisher. In essence, the author is simply writing as “work for hire” with the option for earning commissions after a specified number of books have sold. Earning commissions rarely happens with most instructional books.
Honestly, I haven’t heard anywhere that pirated books help sell more books. Now, if the people who pirated books would write favorable reviews on book websites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, that might help increase sales. Perhaps there is some validity to the idea that someone would get a free copy before they purchased a legit copy, but I doubt it. Thanks for the link to the article; I hadn’t read that.
And to answer your question about authors having input about when to go to court: No, the author signs away all rights to a big publisher.
Best of luck to you with your writing!
Will update with more as things develop (hopefully…)