How You Can Be Accused of Copyright Infringement by Amazon
Ebook theft and copyright infringement is rampant – there’s no doubt about this. And with the growth of self-publishing, it’s only getting worse. Proof?
According to the 2012 Fast Company article, AMAZON’S PLAGIARISM PROBLEM:
This penchant for plagiarism shouldn’t surprise us. Self-publishing has become the latest vehicle for spammers and content farms, with the sheer volume of self-published books making it difficult, if not impossible, for e-stores like Amazon to vet works before they go on sale. In 2006, 51,000 self-published titles were released; last year  there were 133,036 self-published books, and that number is destined to climb.
Now that you know why ebook theft is so prolific, let’s look at how you can innocently be accused of copyright infringement. It’s actually quite simple and I’ll use my story as an example.
I use article marketing to promote Inkwell Editorial’s line of ebooks. So when I wrote SEO Examples: 10 Illustrative SEO Writing Samples of What This Type of Web Writing Looks Like, I used articles I’d written and distributed via article directories like EzineArticles.com for illustrative purposes in the book.
Well, when you submit articles to article directories, they get picked up and published on the blogs, in newsletters, and on the websites of others. Sometimes an article can get republished hundreds of times, and this is the whole point of article marketing – to get wide distribution across the web.
Well, not everyone who published your content will give you credit. Some will not only NOT list you as the original author (as they’re supposed to); they’ll outright steal your content by listing themselves as the author.
So if you use content you’ve distributed elsewhere like article directories, or if you “blog an ebook,” then you could be accused of copyright infringement by Amazon (and other publishing outlets).
So that’s how it can happen. But if you are the rightful owner of the content, you should have no problems proving that.
What to Do When Amazon Refuses to Publish Your Ebook Because of Possible Copyright Infringement
Back in the winter of 2012 (and yeah, I keep emails forever of topics I want to respond to), a new self-publisher emailed me the following. She’d just published her first ebook and Amazon contacted her asking her to, in essence, proved that she was the original author of the content in her ebook. She wrote:
I received the email below from Kindle. I am not sure what sort of documentation they would require from me and hope you can advise me accordingly. What sort of documentation would I need to prove that I am the author?
I do appreciate your help. Thank you.
Note: Following is the email she received from Amazon
Thanks for using Amazon KDP! We look forward to bringing your books to the Kindle store. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has their books claimed and sold by anyone else. For your book(s), we just need a few additional items:
[Name of her ebook was listed]
To confirm your rights to distribute the book(s) listed above, please provide any documentation or other evidence that proves you have retained rights for these book(s).
Alternatively, you may have the rights holders contact us directly with confirmation that you have retained rights.
Please send any correspondence regarding this book(s) with the title and id of the book within 5 days to email@example.com. If the documentation requested is not received, your book will not be made available for sale.
To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit: kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us
Kindle Direct Publishing
Following Was My Response to Her
I’ve had this happen to me once. It was regarding articles that I used in my ebooks that had been distributed to article directories. All I did was point them to the fact that one of the article directories (Ezinearticles.com) only accepts ORIGINAL material, and that all the other articles (that were mine and had been published w/o giving me proper credit) were published after mine.
Regarding your situation, I’d say point them to any blog posts, correspondence with the awards committee, etc. you have regarding your writing of this ebook. Did you blog about it, correspond with others about it via email, talk about it in forums before it was published, etc.
You could even go back and show that that you participated in Inkwell Editorial’s ebook writing competition, and say something along the lines of “I’ve been wanting to self-publish for a while and taking this class gave me the idea for “many ebooks” I wanted to publish.”
In short, send them any and everything you’ve done along the “self-publishing route” to show that this is something you’ve been wanting to do and this particular ebook is the fruit of your labour and long-burning desire.
Barring this, I’m not sure what else you could do, other than go the route of “officially copyrighting” your ebook, info on which can be found at the bottom of this post: http://inkwelleditorial.com/prevent-ebook-theft.
Good luck and let me know how it turns out.
Following Is Amazon’s Response to Her
Date: 2 December 2012 09:53
Subject: Fw: Congratulations, you’ve successfully published on the Kindle Store!
Hello from Amazon KDP!
The book “[name of her ebook]” you recently submitted to KDP has been published to the Kindle Store and is already available* for readers to purchase here [link was provided].
Now that your book is live, we would like to highlight a great program called KDP Select available to KDP authors and publishers, such as yourself. …
Thanks again for choosing KDP to publish your work; we wish you the best of luck in promoting and selling it!
Kindle Direct Publishing
Following Is the Email She Sent Me After Amazon Published Her Ebook
Yuwanda! I could not have done this without you! In all your modesty, please don’t say it was all me. It was you. I followed all your instructions! I am elated! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Conclusion: Ebook Theft, Copyright Infringement & Self-Publishing on Amazon
If you’re a self-published author, especially one who uses previously published material in an ebook, you will no doubt run into this issue with Amazon (and other publishing outlets) at one time or another.
But, don’t let it rattle you. You have nothing to worry about if you can prove the material belongs to you.
Share Your Thoughts
Has this ever happened to you? How did you handle it? Did it work? Please share in the comments section below.
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