Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Dark Side of Electronic Publishing

The great thing about electronic self-publishing is the ease with which authors can make their works available for sale in giant marketplaces such as Amazon. The bad thing is it is also very easy for spammers to put up utter junk and thieves to steal an author's book and attempt to publish it as their own. This happened to author Ruth Ann Nordin and despite multiple attempts to get Amazon to take the infringing book down, all they do is tell her to email their copyright division.

Now the book did get removed (by the thief) because Ruth sent up the emergency flare to all her friends and readers via Twitter and Facebook.  Other authors got involved.  Net result, a whole bunch of one-star reviews titled THIS BOOK IS STOLEN and no further profit for the slimy bastard.

This is going to happen again, and Amazon needs to be proactive about it.  We're talking text files here, and there already exist handy programs to check for plagiarism.  Checking every submitted book might overwhelm the servers, but there should certainly be random spot checks -- and ANY report of a stolen book should be immediately investigated.  If the claim is proven, then the infringer should be banned and all monies refunded.  There has to be a better way to keep things clean.  I'm hoping Amazon doesn't just jump to a fee to upload -- although if that were refunded after a year it might not be so bad.  Spammers aren't that patient.


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