is an award-winning public relations expert and author. She was named Publicist of the Year by the Book Publicists of Southern California, and by the Bulldog Reporter publication in 2015-2016 for her online book piracy awareness PR campaign. For the past five years, Rhonda has appeared in the media to help promote this cause. She has given a webinar with the Independent Book Publishers Association, and created the “Check Your Books” PSA campaign to coincide with World Book and Copyright Day, and World IP Day.
In my previous article for IP Watchdog, “An Awareness Crusade Against the Online Piracy of Books,” I delved into the growing problem of book piracy. I knew the harmful effects of this illegal activity all too well. My award-winning book, Profit and Prosper with Public Relations®: Insider Secrets to Make You a Success, for which I have a U.S. trademark registration for the title and a registered copyright, was being offered as a free download without my knowledge or permission. In countless other situations, these unscrupulous sites don’t actually give away copies of people’s books at all, but instead, offer malware to unsuspecting participants, damaging an author’s name, reputation or brand. With this in mind, it is even more concerning that a new and disturbing trend is now emerging. I recently came upon a fake website that was advertising “free” copies of my book. It featured reader photos and comments indicating that they were endorsing my work. The people profiled appeared to be personally asking for these free copies.
According to the Association of American Publishers, the publishing industry as a whole has lost $80 to $100 million dollars to online piracy annually. From 2009 to 2013, the number of e-book Internet piracy alerts that the Authors Guild of America has received from their membership had increased by 300%. During 2014, that number doubled. I’m certain that in 2016, the statistics will go even higher.