A friend of mine's book has just been stolen on Amazon. The person is using my friend's name, stole the content of the book and put up a different title. Yep, even using her name. They have also stolen another one of her books, using her name AND the same exact cover except it's blurry. It's something else. She contacted Amazon, but has little hope. Just a few months ago another friend of mine had some shorts stolen from Amazon and the person put them back up for sale.
This seems to be spreading fast. I've also read things from folks on forums about people's books being stolen. So far it's people stealing from self-published authors and taking 99 cent or free books then putting them up for sale as their own.
I of course find this disgusting, as well as the reaction some folks say they've gotten from Amazon when they asked for help after their work was stolen. I can't say I am surprised this is happening. With so many people jumping to Kindle publish now, something was bound to happen. I read an article where it's happening over at Smashwords too.
So for those who are self-publishing through these channels, watch your back. You never know if it will happen to you.
Here is a blog post on the subject from a few months ago:http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012933.html
Stacy, thanks for the heads up. I agree: this was going to happen. There are no copyright laws in place in the ether, none that effectively protect authors like your friend. The laws that apply to print, put in place when the printing press was invented, are still being revised to catch up with the Internet.
Since the law doesn't adequately protect digital copyright or provide an economic means for us to pursue digital fraudsters, Amazon has no legal compunction to act. But they will have to find a way to put up digital fences to stop this theft. The cost would be astronomical, not that Big A can't afford it. The question is: will they take the lead and do the right thing, however costly, as I.J. suggests, or will they wait and see what others do?
Meantime, I appreciate the info.
Registering your copyright with the US Copyright Office is the only way you have any real legal standing with this. And yes, you can copyright electronic files.
Oddly enough, when my current publisher went to put my second book on Kindle, Amazon insisted that they didn't have the rights to it, since it had been previously published by another publisher. We had to show them the signed contract from my current publisher and the rights release letter from my previous publisher before they would put the book in Kindle format.
I do think that Amazon opened the floodgates, though, and that they weren't as prepared for the consequences as they thought they were. Copyright registration isn't cheap, which makes it less than attractive to someone who's self-publishing to Kindle, but if you register it, you'll have possibly a greater chance of getting Amazon to do something about the violation.
Yes, Pepper. I'm thinking about this even now. It used to be that the very existence of the text (dated) in your own files constituted proof that you owned the book/story. This may still work. I hesitate to go through the copyright process, and not just because it costs money, but also because it's a hassle.
I assume my agent's office clarified my rights to two titles that were returned to me. Doubly confusing since various formats are still in print and on audio.
As for this being costly for Amazon: I don't see it. Any author who claims he/she has been ripped off can alert them and have the offending title removed. Furthermore, uploading works may trigger a warning in the system, if the same book already exists. Amazon's people will just have to do some checking before they run a new item.
I think that is already being done when Amazon uploads the novel. That process is not automatic and requires in my case several weeks of back-and-forth e-mails. Things may be different when authors upload books themselves through an automated system. Maybe that's where warnings need to be posted.
You guys are so welcome for the info! Whenever I learn of something important in the industry I try to spread it around. This is very serious and people need to be aware of it.