Digital thieves are stealing from me

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As a writer, I'm often frustrated because people think I shouldn't mind when they steal from me. I'm rich, right? No, I'm not. My royalties from the books I sell go to pay my mortgage, pay for groceries, my health care, my car payment, and other non-luxury items. I'm just like any of your neighbors. So, stealing from me hurts. 

Few people get rich being a writer. Most writers are like me. We work hard to produce a book, hope it gains a following, pray that word of mouth carries it to any bestseller list, and cross our fingers that we get another contract with our publishers.

Now, we have to worry about people stealing from us too.

Much of the problem is being promoted by people operating outside the country, (I routinely go to Chinese and Russian sites) setting up web sites with the sole purpose of trafficking in counterfeited and pirated American products. I have a list of sites I check regularly each day and they offer thousands of copyrighted books – for free – just because they can.

No money is returned to the individuals who created the work. I don't see a cent. It's like going to work for free. Not many people would volunteer to do that.

Want all of Karen Ranney's books – for free? For $9.95 a month, we'll give you a membership to our "free" book site. Oh, by the way, they're going to take your credit card number and steal YOU blind. And you'd better run your virus protection right away, because you've probably been infected with malware or another virus.

In other words, not only is the author, painter, photographer, moviemaker, cartoonist, or other artist a victim, so is the person who wants something for nothing. The only people profiting are the site owners.

We need common sense solutions to protect intellectual property rights, so I - and every other American creator - can continue to make a living, pay the mortgage, and put food on the table. Otherwise, people are going to continue to steal, brag about it, and not only escape any punishment, but profit from their thievery.

As just one writer – a Texas writer – I'd be overjoyed if intellectual property rights were protected.

Karen Ranney is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author.