It's common when you're first starting out in digital sales to be concerned to see your hard work being pirated, or worse, pirate links being sold for a profit off of your hard work.
We get it. In the early years of CG Cookie, it was so frustrating to know that the tutorials that we had worked so hard on were being snatched and shared or resold in other corners of the web. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to stop the roaming pirate hordes until we realized that we would make a lot more headway (and be a lot happier) if we just kept doing what we were good at and moved forward. Pirates will always find a way to get around whatever barriers you might set up—even Adobe hasn't cracked the code—so step back from your sadness, frustration, and rage to focus on the integrity of your product, the loyalty of your paying customers, and your enjoyment of 3D.
Here are some more tips to help you deal with piracy.
- File a DMCA takedown request: In some cases, you may be able to file a DMCA takedown request to get the pirated product removed from whichever site it has been uploaded to. Remember: submit all the necessary information in your DMCA takedown request. Requests containing partial information cannot be acted upon. At Blender Market, we have our own DMCA procedure, which you can find here.
- Include your name, logo, or contact info in your product: Some people may not realize that they are looking at a pirated product because everything about the product presentation may seem legitimate. By including information that identifies the product as yours, you make it easy for someone to get in touch with you to let you know that your product is up somewhere that it isn't supposed to be.
Relax. It's going to be ok.
- Take it as a compliment: You know you've made it in the big leagues when someone feels that your work is worth the time and effort involved in ripping it off. Recognize that for every one person who steals your work, there are 300 people who want to buy it.
- Focus on your work, not the pirates: Dwelling on the negative emotions that piracy arouses in us can be a dark road to nowhere. By focusing on your work and the positive interactions that you have with Blender, fellow artists, and your art, you will see more good than bad, minimizing the creativity-sucking influence of negativity.
- Recognize that you can't control piracy or pirates: It's tempting to think that we can control how our products are used and where they are displayed or sold, but ultimately we cannot. Recognizing this fact and being ok with it will help you focus on what matters.
- Know that someone who uses your pirated product today might be a paying customer tomorrow: I'm not talking about the rippers, I'm talking about the "beneficiaries" of the rippers. This is certainly not universally the case, but sometimes people genuinely can't afford to buy certain products. Many of us have known—or been—starving students who use a bootleg copy of something with the intention of paying for it someday when we can afford to. In the meantime, our familiarity with and affection for that software/model/product grows and creates a certain "brand" loyalty. This explanation doesn't excuse piracy, but it can be helpful to imagine the reasons why someone might download a pirated product.