Guest Blog: My Words Are Not Free To Be Stolen

By Ece Vahapoglu, author (originally posted on IP Delivers blog)

My novel, Oteki [The Other], which details the battle between Western and Middle Eastern values in the life of a Turkish woman, was published in Turkey in October 2009. Because of its sensitive and attention-getting theme, the book was all over the media and sales immediately showed good results. It sold almost 20,000 copies in a month and quickly became a bestseller.

However, in just a few months’ time, after Oteki sold over 18,000 copies in 9 editions, I got a call from my publisher saying that they had found a warehouse full of pirated books, including my own.

The next day I read about the seizure in the newspapers, where inside police found 50,000 copies of my novel! And soon after I found my book on a list no one wants to ascend: the top 10 most pirated books.

It was a very strange feeling as an author. I spent almost two years to write a book and suddenly it is copied and being sold unofficially. Not only do we, as the authors, not get copyright fees, but these ‘sales’ do not count on our official sales reports. Just think: thousands more people read my book, but I cannot claim it.

This proved especially tricky when we moved into foreign markets. When my agent presents my novel to foreign publishers, instead of the total sales figure, she can only tell the official 20,000 copies. This hurts me. This hurts those who translated it. This hurts those who want to read it.

My time, my efforts, my inspiration, my heart and brain…can be copied without my permission by people whom I don’t know, but who are profiting off of my work.

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