What is the issue?

Blatant piracy of books and written works has been a problem for centuries, but the digital age increased both the ease of copying entire works and sharing them broadly with no attached compensation to the owner of the work. TWUC members regularly find their work copied and shared online on a number of platforms, without authorization.


What TWUC is doing

TWUC believes the most effective response to book piracy is the strengthening of copyright laws and related enforcement mechanisms. In the current regulatory environment, individual acts of piracy are extremely difficult to stop and/or discourage. Takedown letters and removal requests are often greeted with contempt or ignored outright. When a pirated work is successfully removed from one site, more often than not it reappears on another site almost immediately. What’s more, since the internet is not stopped by international borders, it’s often impossible for a Canadian organization like TWUC to legally engage with an off-shore piracy site. No writer or publisher has the time or resources to monitor and police all instances of piracy of their work.

TWUC works closely with our international colleagues to address the issue of piracy on a macro level. We have participated in various legal challenges to what we consider to be the illicit copying practices of various high tech corporations, including the Google Books challenge, and the HathiTrust case. Most recently, we are supporting efforts within the United States to stop the Internet Archive (IA) from continuing to scan books without permission, and making them broadly available for download and sharing through their “Open Library” website. TWUC believes IA's "controlled digital lending" program through the Open Library infringes on author copyright and undermines the existing electronic book licensing market for genuine libraries.


What you can do

If you find your work copied and distributed online without your permission, please let TWUC know. Evidence of ongoing piracy, and the potential loss of income that results from it, is valuable in TWUC’s efforts to strengthen the laws protecting creative work. You may also wish to send a formal takedown letter to the site (though please manage your expectations about an immediate and satisfying response – they are rare). You can find an excellent template letter in the links section below.


Further reading

Stronger Together

TWUC’s advocacy is most effective as the collective voice of Canada’s professional authors. We are stronger together. If you are not already a member of TWUC and are working as a writer, consider joining the Union. If you wish to support TWUC’s advocacy outside of membership, consider donating to the Union.