For a Few Cents More

Support, Unbelievable

Is Amazon contributing to copyright infringement? One anonymous reader submitted:

In late 2013 the Author, relatively new to self-publishing, decided to put his four eBooks out as paperbacks via CreateSpace, and in the new year he had out a trilogy-length novel, plus that same work out as three volumes. But two to three weeks later, the Author discovered that he’d made one key mistake: he’d completely innocently quoted one line each from three songs – giving credits in the Acknowledgments – believing that such was fair usage. On discovering that this was in fact not considered fair usage by music publishers he at once responsibly took all four books off sale as by sad chance one each of the lines he’d used were in one each of the three volumes of his trilogy. The Author then had to edit around the quoted lines and put out new editions.

Knowing that Amazon take a dim view of copyright theft – indeed they’ve cancelled other authors’ accounts for such – our Author then wrote to Amazon via Author Central, explaining the situation and politely requested that the original four books be completely removed from their sites. He also added that not a single copy of his four titles had been sold to a customer before being taken down. An Author Central customer services rep’ unsurprisingly replied non-specifically, stating reasons why they don’t remove books – which included “customer returns” – plus the rep’ irrelevantly included another email address which he could write to if his own copyright was being infringed.

To this was added in parentheses: “(Keep in mind that this procedure is exclusively for notifying Amazon.com and its affiliates that your copyrighted material has been infringed.)” The Author was of course not satisfied with this irrelevancy and again wrote requesting the removal of the four titles, also stating this: “… as no copies were ever sold of any of the 4 of my discontinued/retired/cancelled titles there can logically never ever exist any second hand copies which could be sold via Amazon Marketplace. Therefore everything [the rep’] pasted on this issue (below) is 100% irrelevant. Please get this point: no-one is ever going to purchase a product which does not exist.”

The Author’s email concluded thus: “Finally, if you refuse to comply it only leaves me one option in order to defend my own integrity on this issue: I will write to the relevant music publishers pasting this entire thread (plus your next reply) to show that I have done my very best to have these 4 titles permanently taken down, and that it is only Amazon who is showing a willingness to infringe on their copyrights.” He then received a final reply from another Author Central customer services rep’: “I regret that we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. However, as informed earlier, we’d not be able to remove the books from the website. “We won’t be able to provide further insight or assistance for your request.” This clearly indicates that although Amazon will suspend the accounts of authors who knowingly infringe others copyrights, they themselves reserve the ‘right’ to resell books they have been informed contain copyright infringements. Would they then disclaim all responsibility if such an author was to be prosecuted – due only to their greed for a few cents more?

So, what do you think?