Last week, we discussed the growing threat of Kindle counterfeiting. In my discussions with authors whose works have been pirated, plagiarized, or counterfeited, a recurring theme was the loss of royalties: many authors were never compensated for the royalties stolen by copyright violators.
I looked into the matter, and discovered an interesting clause in the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms of Service:
5.7 Rights Clearances and Rights Dispute Resolution.
[…]If you notify us through the procedure we provide on the applicable Amazon Property for making claims of copyright infringement that a third party has made a Digital Book available for distribution through the Program (or for distribution in a particular territory through the Program) that you have the exclusive right to make available under the Program, then, upon your request and after verification of your claim, we will pay you the Royalties due in connection with any sales of the Digital Book through the Program [emphasis added], and will remove the Digital Book from future sale through the Program, as your sole and exclusive remedy.
TL;DR version: Amazon will confiscate royalties from the unauthorized sale of your book and hand them over to you.
That’s great news for those who have fallen prey to pirates and counterfeiters. However, Amazon doesn’t always volunteer this information; you may need to specifically request that the royalties be reassigned and cite this section of the Terms of Service.
There are a few other gotchas in the fine print.
“If you notify us through the procedure we provide…”
You must file a notice of copyright infringement through Amazon’s online form or through formal communication with Amazon’s legal department.
“…on the applicable Amazon Property…”
The Terms of Service define “Amazon Property” as “any web site, application or online point of presence, on any platform, that is owned or operated by or under license by Amazon or co-branded with Amazon….”
This suggests you’ll need to file a separate complaint and claim for each Amazon site and territory affected: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, etc.
“…that a third party has made a Digital Book available…”
These Terms of Service only apply to ebooks sold through KDP. Piracy via CreateSpace’s print on demand services would need to be addressed through that site’s copyright resolution process. The CreateSpace Terms of Service do not include the same text.
I’ve put in an inquiry with CreateSpace as to whether they have a similar policy, and I’ll update this post when they respond.
CreateSpace has responded to my inquiry, and unfortunately, they do not offer the same protection that KDP offers. With the growing ease of print on demand publishing, it’s just a matter of time before piracy affects CreateSpace to the same degree as KDP.
CreateSpace’s reply follows:
I appreciate your patience while I was working on your case. I have an update for you.
The department that handles our copyright infringement cases has responded. As we are a separate entity from Kindle Direct Publishing, we do have different Terms & Conditions than they do. As can be seen within the CreateSpace Terms & Conditions, we do not have the same policies as Kindle Direct Publishing. If this is the case, it would be necessary to resolve this issue via your own legal means.
We will not reimburse an author for royalties in the case of plagiarism or copyright infringement. It would be necessary to pursue legal options to recoup royalties from the person who had illegally published the title. We will, however, provide any information possible to assist you should it be necessary to pursue legal action.
I hope I’ve been able to clarify this issue for you, John. We appreciate your business and I wish you the best of success with your book project!
Best regards,[redacted] CreateSpace Member Services