If you’re a writer with any kind of published work (from fanfic published online to real, physical books,) you may have heard about Ebook-Tree. And if you haven’t heard about it, you’ll want to take a seat.
Ebook-tree.net (which was .com yesterday) is a new site where you can buy e-books. Which doesn’t sound bad, and, inherently, it isn’t. The site is sending out bots to pull any PDF of books and fanfics they can find, and then putting them on their site for other people to purchase, no matter who actually owns the copyright. And no, you won’t get any kind of notification that they have your content, and you won’t see any money for it.
One of the sites that was hit hard was Archive Of Our Own (AO3), a fanfiction site run by fans for fans. They offer a few types of downloads to anyone who can see the works. It’s meant to keep the site accessible for those who have limited internet connections, can only use the mobile site of AO3, or maybe even want to put the fics on their e-readers. Because of this, Ebook-tree (which from here on out I’ll call Etree) can and did download a shit ton of fics and began selling them for profit. AO3 was not the only site hit – there are a multitude of “actual authors,” both indie and best-sellers, that have their works listed on Etree. If they were available for PDF download somewhere, there is a chance that it’s being sold. Since yesterday, it looks like a lot of content has been taken off Etree, which is absolutely fantastic.
The kicker? If they do have any of your work, you have to create an account to see it. And, to create an account, you need to give them credit card information. The credit card information goes through a site called lazygame, and lazygame sends that info to Tzar Media, which is about as trustworthy as those emails from the King of Somalia that ask for money. So, you absolutely do not want to create an account with them just to see if they really have your stuff, or if they’re just bluffing.
So what can you do?
Their DMCA copyright page looks pretty scary to those not versed in law. It seems to imply you need a lawyer (or other “authorized person”) to submit the take down notice; you do not. Ef Yeah Copyright Law, who has been educating people on DMCA and Fair Use laws in regards to fanfic, put together this nifty little template for you:
As we’ve posted before, fanfic writers hold copyright in their stories, although not in lines/quotes from the works they’ve been inspired by, and because of that, fanfic writers can submit DMCA takedown notices, or have someone do it on their behalf. While this post isn’t legal advice (none of our posts on FYC are), you might want to consider using this template (well, the bolded bits) in telling ebooks-tree to take down your content:Your Name and/or Pseudonym as an e-signature (or the name of the person you’ve authorized to submit this request, with a slash before it and after it):
Link(s) to the unauthorized works (link to the pdf, the mobi and the page hosting all of it):
Link(s) to an authorized version of your work (whether on AO3, tumblr, LJ or somewhere else):
An email address of the submitter (include it again even if it’s in the header):
This statement: I have good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
This statement: The information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
That’s it – that’s all they need to know – you can submit all the info via http://www.ebooks-tree.com/info.php?contacts with DMCA Complaint in the subject; you may wish to submit the same content to Google via this page, or to BING via this page.
It’s also worth noting that Etree is not within DMCA guidelines, although they say they are; they must register and be listed copyright.gov, which they are not.
If you are an AO3 user, I highly suggest making your content available to AO3 users for the time being, until we’re out of this storm. That may not stop the bots that are pulling AO3 content, but it’ll further discourage them. AO3 does know about this issue, and they are taking measures to prevent more work from being stolen.
Should you also complain to their hosting service?
CloudFlare has responded to a number of people that they are only a “pass through” – basically, they do host ebooks-tree’s content but only for brief times, and we believe that ebooks-tree has been using CloudFlare to mask where they are truly hosted.
However, per CloudFlare’s policy, they have passed on to us information about where ebooks-tree is actually hosted, and here it is:
DFW Internet Services Inc. NET-DFW1
Webzilla Inc. WEBZILLA-US-204-155-148-0-24 firstname.lastname@example.org
So CouldFlare really has very little to do with Etree. And Webzilla doesn’t adhere to DMCA’s guidelines, as they require your name, address, and telephone number to submit a complaint. You can still contact Webzilla without this information to complain about Etree, but as of now, no one has heard back from them.
Does this all seem really scary?
It’s scary to me, too. It seemed even scarier when there were more works listed on Etree, and when there was a link to download the “full PDF” of any search term you typed in (whether that be an author name or a book title, and whether or not they actually had books listed with the search term in it.) But the fact that we’re making progress is a good sign, and tons of people are getting on Etree’s back about this, which will hopefully make things progress even faster. I’m crossing my fingers that this will blow over before the weekend hits.
None of this post should be taken as legal advice; it’s simply a means of understanding what the heck is going on over at Etree.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or information, please feel free to leave a comment!