By: Dan Selakovich
Tenth in the series.
Some years ago, I wrote and self-published a book for filmmakers called “Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build.” As I was the publisher, I was neck deep in the sales and distribution of the book.
The first edition sold extremely well (this was the only book of its kind and apparently much desired). The second edition was even beating first edition sales. Then sales dropped substantially. Within 3 weeks, I saw a 90% drop in sales. I couldn’t figure it out until I did a Google search of my book. At the time, the first four pages of Google listed where you could get the book for free – one pirate site after another. I should point out that this book was not available in digital form at the time. Somehow, a PDF version had made its way onto the internet.
I started sending out DMCA notices. Most sites would take down the book, but it would mostly be back up by the next day. Some of the larger sites refused outright. ThePirateBay, for example, bragged: “We have never removed anything, and never would.” I would spend a couple of hours every morning sending out these notices, but it was futile. For every site that took it down, five more would pop up. It was a never-ending, pointless task.
I begged Google to at least list legitimate sources where you could buy the book first on any search, but the reply was “that’s not how search algorithms work.” To me, Google was no better than a fence selling stolen goods. After all, they make money selling advertising to pirate sites, so I don’t see any distinction. It was much more profitable for them to send web searchers to pirate sites that they had sold ads to.
The DMCA couldn’t help me. Websites should have to ask permission of the copyright holder before offering up any intellectual property — at the very least.
To fight piracy of my book, I wrote a much-expanded third edition and let Focal Press take over as publisher. Now I make a small royalty.
Dan Selakovich spent most of his career uncredited, re-editing and sometimes directing additional scenes in troubled movies to make them a little less bad. In 2003, he finished his book “Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build,” which shows filmmakers how to build their own dollies, cranes, stabilizers, car mounts, etc. Dan often works as a consultant before films are shot and in post production to create the best film possible.
Dan has taught workshops on building rigs and Narrative Film Composition “Finding the Right Shot” at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas and New York, and at the USC summer film program.