• Zetta Brown
  • Amazon a Safe Harbor for Pirates? Beware Kindle Authors!
This blog was featured on 09/04/2016
Amazon a Safe Harbor for Pirates? Beware Kindle Authors!
Written by
Zetta Brown
May 2011
Written by
Zetta Brown
May 2011

Could Amazon be Pontius Pilate reborn?

It sounds like it. And the idea that Amazon plans to dig deeper with their own publishing house does not sit well in my stomach if this kind of thing is allowed to go unchecked. Then again, rumor is that Amazon has been going around trying to poach personnel and authors to make their venture work so maybe their allowing the following behavior is just par for the course?

Here is the link to a blog post showing how one author is being been ripped off by a copyright infringer who is selling plagiarised books on Amazon's Kindle.

And the culprit is not the only "author" doing it. 

While it's not uncommon for companies to want to (need to) indemnify themselves from certain things and activities of individuals, just because you may not be responsible for something that happens, it doesn't absolve you for being responsible if you ALLOW IT TO CONTINUE. It's time to enforce the laws that are in place if not beef them up. Amazon should not be allowed to wash its hands of responsibility by hiding behind some thin, cotton-pantie leagalise...or codpiece, because this kind of nonsense takes balls.

This is just the latest example of an erotica author's work being pirated, but this can happen to any author regardless of genre and it is a serious issue. It doesn't matter if you post your work on a free site or sell it legitimately. If someone is allowed to STEAL YOUR WORK AND GET PAID FOR IT....that is WRONG.

This is elementary-school stuff, people. Spread the word and tell Amazon to pull its socks up!

AUTHORS - Don't let Amazon get away with selling plagiarised copies of your works via Kindle or any other Amazon venue!
READERS - Demand that you get the right product that you paid for and not some illegal counterfit. This kind of activity not only hurts the creator of the piece, it hurts YOU as a consumer!

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  • Zetta Brown

    Thanks, Augie. When dealing with Amazon as an author or publisher, you will develop a love/hate opinion soon enough. Authors need to be aware how Amazon operates and what it will/will not do. 

  • Augie

    Thank you Zetta for this information. Augie Hiclks

  • Zetta Brown

    Another thing to point out is that some of this heartache is what happens when you self publish and are set up as an individual rather than as a publisher. For example, Lightning Source won't work with authors, only publishers because they are business entities. There are different legalities involved so if you intend to self publish, you are better off setting yourself up as a publisher/business entity.

    What people are going to find out (most of them the hard way) is that there is A LOT more to publishing than writing a book and putting it on sale. 

  • Zetta Brown

    @Mercedes & Vivienne - I'm not a (c) lawyer by any means of the word but both of you have valid points. You are the (c) holder the moment you start/create your work. But registering in your country's (c) office provides extra legal weight should your (c) come into question, but there's no doubt in my mind that if you can prove that you are the original creator of a work w/o a doubt, whatever you have will stand up in court.

    For example, I'm such a slow writer that my first novel took over 10 years to complete and it was started well before the Internet became what it is today. I have my original handwritten draft as well as other drafts on disk, etc. that if anyone was foolish enough to claim my work as theirs, I got PUH-LENTY proof. And I don't have my book registered at the (c) office. At least not yet.

    However, I HAVE had my work pirated where some dipshit has bought my book and put it up on a pirate site where who knows how many thieves have downloaded it and possibly passed it on. Worse yet, I traced the bitch back to Facebook where she "friended" the pirate site's page. I think Facebook took the pirate page down, but that's just 1 cockroach out of millions who are out there.


    @Valerie & Carolyn - There are ways in which you can try to keep up and see if your work is where it shouldn't be and perhaps the easiest is Google Alerts where you can have Google notify you whenever it finds your book title, name, a specific passage in your story, etc. But the Internet is so huge and (c) thieves are worse than cockroaches that unless you want to spend all your time searching for it, it's not worth it. But if you do discover something, report it to the site owner.

    But the biggest thing I would personally warn against is the amount of work you post on the Internet. The person in the article had a lot of their work posted on a free site. To me, that's just an open invitation for thieves--and sure 'nuff, that's what happened. Even if it's your own blog/site, I would warn against posting big chunks of your work or WIPs anywhere. A sample chapter, fine. As long as it's the same chapter. A little teaser of a WIP, fine. As long as it's the same teaser. But keep things under wraps as much as possible.


    It sounds crazy to be so miserly since people stealing complete works. What's the point in protecting any of it? Well, that's your choice if you prefer not to. But until a better method comes along or a better way to enforce what laws are already present, IMO, the best you can do is try to protect what you can how you can.

  • But it is proof of who it originally belongs to, and it will stand up in a court of law. Truth of the matter, there are going to be writers who cannot afford to register it at the Copyright office. As laws on intellectual property goes - ones material does NOT have to be registered at the copyright office to be protected, it is protected the moment YOU create it. And the rest is a matter of proof that YOU are the originator of it. By posting to yourself and not opening it, you are doing exactly what the copyright office is doing, holding PROOF. It will stand up in court.

  • According to the US Copyright Office, (http://www.copyright.gov) the practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

  • Carolyn Haley

    Thanks for posting this. I spent some time doing a Google search on my main character's name, and found two sites where my e-book is being "sold" for nothing, as well as several sites around the world that are unlikely to be on my publisher's list of licensees. She was pretty snarked when I pointed them out to her, and promptly sent warning letters of legal action.

  • Valerie Hegwood

    What is frightening to me, is that this could happen and one might not ever know it? Or not know it for years? What if a thief takes a book that has been out of print, say for 10 years, or regurgitates it on Kindle? How do authors protect themselves and know that their work is now on Amazon, or BN, or Smashwords? How can you keep a handle on it?

  • Or upon completion of the work, copy it to a disk, or print it out and mail it to yourself within a closed and registered package or envelope and don't open it. Take it to court and let the judge open it, same thing and it stands up in any court of law!

  • This is why is very imporatnt for every author to register their work with the Copyright Office. It is not enough to just place a copyright symbol on your work. It must be registered so that if you  have to take legal action, the proof is that the work is yours.

  • It makes me ill to KNOW that there are actually people out there that WOULD do something like this. It's times like this when I'm reminded that scum is EVERYWHERE and capable of doing ANYTHING for a fast buck they don't deserve. Writing... is not only taxing on your time, but it drains you emotionally DEPENDING on what you're writing, it cuts into family time, couple time if you're married and can cause so many problems if you're not a single person. So to go through all the HELL of what is required to be an even half-way decent writer, only to have it STOLEN??? No no no - I would not rest - to me, it would be like kidnapping one of my children, because let's face it - when you write - you are pouring part of WHO YOU ARE into what YOU create, so it is NOT a light matter, not at all... even if the original owner did put it out there for FREE - it STILL BELONGS TO HIM! Ugh... I'm hot over this.

  • Zetta Brown

    @Mercedes - you're right. If you enter into an agreement, even if it's online, you agree to be legally bound to it and no court anywhere would look kindly on anyone making out a false lawsuit for the sake of publicity.

    You take a lot of things on faith on both sides of an agreement/contract, but the law is against you if you enter that agreement based on falsehoods.

  • Zetta Brown

    If he--or anyone else--is doing this as a publicity stunt, it's pretty silly and downright negligent IMO. Just like with any counterfit item, it damages the value of the original and affects the creator.

    We hold other online sites responsible for checking (c) claims through DCMA take-down notices, etc., why should Amazon be exempt? It would be very hard for a phony to claim something as theirs if the original creator stepped up, and these are not grey areas of a sentence or paragraph here or there. These are entire works being copied and passed off by someone who does not deserve credit, let alone money.

    Would you like it if it happened to you? In this digital age, it's very possible. I haven't had my work plagiarised this way (touch wood), but I have been pirated and I don't appreciate it one bit. If you have taken the time and effort to create something and strive (or hope) to earn your livelihood at it, you would want to protect it. If you want to give your work away, that should be your choice--not the choice of a thief.

  • @ Patty - I wondered these same things that you stated. Sometimes a writer will use more than one pen name, and I wondered if he'd done this? But I'm hoping that he IS in pursuit if he did not give permission and is not behind it himself. I DO KNOW that Amazon does have you declare or claim whether the material you're submitting is yours or not. So I imagine that is binding in court if it proves to be a lie and you are in fact a thief! Personally... were it mine, I would HAVE TO submit proof that it IS MINE and demand it be removed at the same time I'd be looking for an attorney.

  • Patty Newbold

    Zetta, how sure are you that Damon X did not invent Elizabeth Sommers to get himself some really great publicity? Any sign that he's pursuing his copyright in court and not just on the internet?

    If we hold Amazon responsible for investigating copyright infrigement claims, do we not risk putting a lot more power in their hands (e.g., the right to pull our work because some phony contends it's theirs?) and/or leading ourselves down the road where anyone running a forum like this one can be held responsible for copyright infringement?

  • Zetta Brown

    One of the things suggested is that people review these phony "authors" by calling them out and pointing people to the real/legit author at least until (IF) Amazon does the right thing and remove the listing in its entirety.

    Another case that happened recently where a so-called author got a publishing contract with a plagiarised work and it was about to be released when it was spotted and exposed. Suspicions about the author's true identity point to another woman who was busted for stealing work from a co-author.

    It's nonsense like this that makes me want to throttle people who try to rationalize it and explain it away.

  • I find this EXTREMELY disturbing. I don't write erotica, but that is besides the point! And as you stated, why is Amazon not pulling it? I have everything I've ever written on Kindle avail @ Amazon. And I can tell you this, it would not sit well with me to find my hard worked to write literature out in someone elses hands when all of my blood, sweat and tears is poured into it. I'm hoping the author is on Amazon with proof that he is the original owner of this work!