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eBooks Miscellaneous

iOffer and the Pirates. A love story with $$$


Over the last few months on twitter I noticed a few authors lamenting about their fight to remove e-books which were illegally being sold by sellers on an ebay-like site called iOffer. Now this is not a unique case since ebay and a few other sites have had similar instances of this going on. But the problem with iOffer is really widespread that when  you search for ebooks you will get over 14000 hits which is mind boggling especially since the seller can sell multiple copies illegally and profiteering from it. THIS IS REAL PIRACY!People are stealing books and their copyrights away from authors and their publishers, and then selling to others and making a dime from it. It doesn’t cost them a thing since I suspect they probably pirated the titles from torrents or download sites. From the lack of response that iOffer currently has about this issue – which is more lax than a person who has overdosed on laxatives – And that metaphor probably reflects their attitude about the whole situation. They are slow to respond  to combat these sales and do not filter out or check that the majority of ebooks are copyrighted, and seriously, can it be that hard to create a filter or code to weed out these sales?

And I know publishers are limited to what they can do with chasing up pirates but couldn’t they pressure iOffer into cleaning this up? They would have more power collectively to get iOffer to stop listing ebooks as a product on their site because this is fast becoming a go to place to get cheap ebooks illegally. These sellers list how many copies they have sold and it’s in the hundreds or even the thousands! That is a lot of lost sales and the money is not going to the authors and publishers.

iOffer probably appeals to buyers who want to buy cheap ebooks easily and could be a statement to the current issues about ebooks and their value. But for me this is abhorrent, its like paying a burglar for the dodgy TV from the back of a lorry and this is filling up the pockets of the thieves and they are thieves, they haven’t contributed or wrote a word but are profiteering cheaply and easily and these are the real pirates due to this.

I really didn’t want to publicise this site but googling it is easy to do. But I think its coming to a point where authors can only do so much reporting this and I suspect that most authors aren’t aware of this site and what is happening. Maybe the fact that these books are on iOffer is giving these sellers some legitimacy. Buying from these sellers is illegal, as well as being morally wrong but I do hope this post helps highlight this issue because these sellers don’t have RESALE rights or hold the copyright.

iOffer states in their About us section they are –

In 2002, iOffer revolutionized eCommerce by launching a transparent, negotiable marketplace. Our mission was to disrupt the status quo—frenetic and rivalrous auction sites—by empowering real people to buy, sell and trade on their own terms.

I don’t know what this statement says about them and their sellers who sells ebooks like the example I list below. Earlier today I was pointed out to a page that was offering Larissa Ione’s Pleasure Unbound. The sale was suspended but it didn’t stop the seller in watermarking the cover like this below! Charming right?

By the way I made a screen cap of this page before it was removed, so if the morally deficient crazy seller goes ballistic, and claims I did this, you can go and suck a  bowl of hot chilli dicks!

By Has

Has is a voracious reader and a geek at heart! She is a fan of most sub-genres of romance and fantasy, but especially loves fantasy and some sci fi. She's currently looking out for historical romances with unusual settings, and fantasy romance, in the vein of Anne Bishop and Elizabeth Vaughan who are on her list of favourite authors. She's also a fan of authors such as Tamora Pierce, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, Lisa Kleypas and Nalini Singh. She is always on the look out for new authors and loves the feeling of discovering a brand new author and books she loves.

18 replies on “iOffer and the Pirates. A love story with $$$”

HAS, it IS abhorrent. Ioffer is a thorn in my side on a regular basis. And um… I’m gonna rant…. O.o sorry!

The sad thing is that there are THOUSANDS of likely illegal auctions up there. Authors and publishers can get them down, although many authors aren’t aware of how bad the problem is. Publishers’ legal departments do address the problem, but it’s rather… LARGE.

Sooner or later, I think ioffer WILL get dealt with, on a large scale, I’d imagine, because they can’t claim ignorance after how many takedowns they’ve received. It’s just a matter of them crossing the line enough, I guess.

In the meantime, I’ll send my takedowns. Authors can handle it more efficiently, in the long run, than publishers, because we only have our own works to police for, while publishers have their entire publishing houses-what takes them weeks only takes me hours.

BTW, if any authors really want to be a thorn in ioffer’s side… when you see your work being pirated, do what I do. Politely, and try to be polite or ioffer will have more cause to block you… but politely

click on the ‘leave seller a question link, then… post something along the lines of

‘be advised, this auction is illegal-the seller is selling digital copyrighted works and it’s illegal. see the fbi’s warning on piracy’ then leave a link to this page- http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/ipr/anti-piracy (it gets shorted automatically).

Sometimes, the sellers end it immediately.

Then when you email ioffer your takedown to ioffer, CC it to netpiracy@siia.net – they’ve dealt with ioffer before-give them more ammo.

If any author doesn’t know HOW to send a takedown… email me…there’s a contact form thru my website. I’ll give you links to where to find the right terminology. The more authors that force ioffer to comply, the sooner this will get under control-they are ONLY protected if they take action. But they won’t take action unless authors/publishers send in the takedowns.

Okay… I’ll stop ranting now… sorry!

I went and googled this website and it sounds like a company with a very bad reputation. Lots of complaints about being scammed (from buyers AND sellers), a really bad rating, no buyer or seller protection.. If anyone is buying ebooks from there? They’re idiots. And when you bring the copyright issue into it: well, if you lay down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. The most surprising thing is that iOffer has been around since 2001 or 2002. There had to have been lawsuits along the way, how are they still running?!

Nope I totally understand with the rant!!!
If iOffer wants to do good business they need to actually make their contact page work – because if that is constantly offline and I refreshed it for the past few hours and all I get is an error page, then I can definitely understand why you feel frustrated.
That watermark cover made me go want to go all HULK SMASH – I am so glad I screencapped that. And I really hope more authors/bloggers who know about this may put more pressure onto iOffer to deal with this because this isn’t going to go away.

@Janicu – I suspect these sellers offer a cheap and trouble free way to get those books but I agree and I wouldn’t be surprised if they also sell other dodgy stuff. Like I said they are very lax and basically don’t give a crap as long as they get their bit of the sales.

I think their mission statement should really say, “Our mission was to disrupt the status quo—frenetic and rivalrous auction sites—by empowering real people to buy, sell and engage in illegal activity on their own terms and without consequence.”

The sad thing is that I’ll bet a lot of the buyers don’t know that they’re buying pirated goods. The sellers claim false resale rights, and people think it’s okay. 99% of the books in the ebook category are there illegally, and iOffer knows it. If they cared at all about their reputation, they’d do what Ebay did and remove the category. But clearly, they don’t care, or they wouldn’t allow defiled images on their site.

And I really love how they strive to protect THEIR copyright while not giving a crap about anyone else’s. Par for the course when it comes to pirate sites.

*Hugs*
I really hope that this issue is publicised more because I think this will bring more pressure onto iOffer because I think that is part of the problem of listing ebooks on a site like this which most of the genuine ebooks that are available on sites like Smashwords/B&N or Kindle or other indy stores not an auction/seller site like this. They are really a bunch of cowboys.

Hey Has!
Yes, it’s a problem. I wish it were only ioffer, but the scope of the problem is huge. Anyone taken a look a usenet lately? It’s pirate paradise. Piracy in general is a huge problem for content creators, and the smug people making money because they are legion and impossible to prosecute en masse is simply infuriating.

However, I have an idea. I have several friends who do cyber-security professionally, mabye I’ll ask them to send me a feed of all their recently-found computer viruses, put a few thousand of them in a self-extracting archive, and offer it for sale as an “e-book collection”. What could go wrong?

@MinnChica – Thanks! I hope so too!

@Mike – I think that’s an excellent idea! Its like that saying – you get what you paid for! 😀

Awesome post hon. I always wonder why ppl don’t think when there is a “bargain” Seriously who believes there would be a bargain like 60 books by aithor for $2. That’S insane and ppl should see that this would never be a legal offer. But yeah, ppl are crazy when they think it’S a bargain. I’m sure many of them know it is pirated but think buying them is not illegal but it is and at least morally they should think about what they actually do when they click buy there.
I need more coffee so I’m sorry about being confusing…LOL

I know! And looking at that site its mostly all fake goods being sold and I really suspect that this site condones it because it doesn’t seem to filter out or check its legit. I also think many of these ebooks are also virus infested too which in a way is kind of poetic justice – so if anyone does buy these knowing that it may be dodgy – you really shouldn’t complain.

I agree that it’s wrong, but these sites are very tempting for those of us who live outside of the US, where many ebook titles are restricted. I live in Australia and it is truly frustrating to be willing and able to pay for ebooks but unable to download them due to geographical restrictions. I find it difficult to understand why I can buy a print book from anywhere in the world, but am unable to download it for my Sony eReader. I’m sure if some of these restrictions were lifted, there would be less temptation to download illegally.

@Chrissy

Geographical restrictions are such a hindrance to the honest buyer. In this day and age, geo restrictions make no sense.

I feel the same way as Lou 🙁 The thing about ioffer these types of pirates are the worse kind because they profit from stolen material, at least with a torrent or a download site there is no profit on the pirate’s end.

When I encounter a geo restricted book – I go to http://www.lostbooksale.com and enter why a book sale was lost due to geo restrictions and then buy another book that isn’t or buy it used. I rarely buy print books to authors that are new to me and prefer to check them out in ebook format.

Piracy on Ioffer is HUGE, continuing unabated, and Ioffer is not only aware of it, but profiting tremendously because of it.

I’ve notified them of pirated movies in the past (such as in the case of a NEVER BEFORE RELEASED made for tv movie) and they said they would only take action if the actual rights owner contacted them (Disney, in this case). In other words, they are non-cooperative and should be treated as such.

Here are some things that anyone reading this can do that will help.

First, go after the money sources.

By this, I mean contact a given seller’s payment providers (this might be Paypal, Google checkout, Amazon payments, or other services) and alert them to the fact that they are aiding piracy. They will shut them down!

In addition, Ioffer charges fees as well, and those must go through a payment provider or providers. If you can determine their processor, then that processor can be notified as well. I suppose one way to track their provider down might be to complete a small (legal) transaction through their service, then contact your bank, and ask who the processing bank for Ioffer is.

One of the owners of Ioffer is listed as “Ryan Boyce”:

http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abu/y208/m04/abu0213/s03

Owners and principals should be held accountable for the conduct of their business!

Lastly, and importantly, contact OTHER major rights holders and alert them to piracy of their intellectual products. Especially large, deep-pocketed corporations with the ability to take action. For example, movie studios, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), publishers, publishers’ rights groups, etc.

If you trigger action from large groups or corporations, that will help achieve your objective as well.

The key here is making noise, and lots of it. Otherwise, this will continue to get much, much worse.

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