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Author Topic: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright  (Read 4072 times)  

Offline K.B.

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Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« on: July 14, 2017, 08:21:21 AM »
So, I just got an email from Amazon saying I need to prove I have the rights to one of my books. I've pasted the acceptable documents below, none of which I have. I write and release all my work under pen names but don't register copyright. What the heck am I supposed to do?

###

- If you are the author and you are republishing your book after your publication rights have been reverted to you, a signed reversion letter from your former publisher
- If you are the author and you are publishing under a pseudonym, a copyright registration using the pseudonym
- If you are not the author, a signed contract between you and the author granting you the rights to publish the book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
- If you are not the author, an e-mail from the address listed on the authors (or their agents) official website confirming that you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
- If you are a literary agent, a signed contract between you and the author or an email from the address listed on the authors official website granting you the right to act on the authors behalf with respect to the book

Documentation we cannot accept includes:

- A statement by you that you have the publishing rights without verification by the author/copyright holder
- A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed

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Offline Glynn James

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 08:29:31 AM »
Don't panic! It's their standard checkup if they suspect an issue (for any reason).
I usually reply something like this and it's enough for them so far -

"I am the author of this work and no rights are currently sold to any publishers or have been in the past.
I have only published this on KDP, therefore have no reversions to document."

You may want to modify something like that and add that it's a pen name.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 08:33:52 AM by Glynn James »


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Offline Spinneyhead

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 08:55:20 AM »
When I got a similar enquiry, I pointed them at my website, where I had posted some excerpts and short stories before I put them on Amazon. I didn't hear any more about it, so they must have been satisfied. If you have a web presence advertising your books, that may help your case.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 09:47:07 AM »
- If you are not the author, an e-mail from the address listed on the authors (or their agents) official website confirming that you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected

Do the above. If you don't have an author website, go to Wordpress and set up a quick one with a contact page that shows your email address. Then write to Amazon from that address with a link to the page on your author site where they can see the address displayed. These copyright queries are common, so you need to be set up to deal with them.

Offline E.R.Baine

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 10:04:17 AM »
When you upload to Amazon, that should be your copyright. As long as no one else can prove that they had the work in existence before the date you upload it. The statement above should work to prove that.
Quote
"I am the author of this work and no rights are currently sold to any publishers or have been in the past.
I have only published this on KDP, therefore have no reversions to document."

You can go here to copyright your work online for free: http://myows.com/
But this website is the most legitimate: https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov

Your main goal for copyright is to eventually get all your works registered with the US Copyright office.
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Offline Issy

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2017, 10:26:58 AM »
I'm getting them from Createspace as I have a new penname and I did the ebooks first, and am just catching up on the paperbacks. I reply with:

Hello,

I am the author and publisher. I confirm that I am writing under a pseudonym. My pseudonym is ****. My real name is ******. These books are self-published and I hold all the rights.

Kind regards

******* (writing as ******)
 

Offline K.B.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2017, 10:29:33 AM »
Due to an impending author rebranding, my site was taken down as I work to create a new one. I've previously had these requests and was able to use my author site as proof. I've sent a similar email as above and hoping for the best.

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Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2017, 11:10:30 AM »
Due to an impending author rebranding, my site was taken down as I work to create a new one. I've previously had these requests and was able to use my author site as proof. I've sent a similar email as above and hoping for the best.

Did you upload the same content with a new ASIN and NEW pen name and that's what triggered the copyright notice?

(Mine was triggered when I modified keywords, so if you make ANY changes to an existing book it might trigger the copyright request notice.)

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2017, 12:29:35 PM »

- If you are the author and you are publishing under a pseudonym, a copyright registration using the pseudonym

Documentation we cannot accept includes:
- A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed

Interesting. What Amazon have been willing to accept as proof of copyright has always been unclear. Most of us have simply sent in a statement declaring ourselves as the copyright owner and that has been enough. The above two lines mean we must have registration, but that takes 12 months before we get the certificate.

If Amazon now insist we have the certificate or our books may be taken down then we'll be forced to delay publication for 12 months. My books are wide so I would publish on the other sites and market them through FB and other advertisers. I would be forced to explain why I am delaying publishing on Amazon.

I don't mind publishing on the other sites and delaying Amazon for 12 months until I get the copyright certificate. It just means when it comes to Amazon my books are on a diffferent release cycle to my writing cycle and every other site. From Amazon's point of view they might lose some of their readers/buyers because they'll buy my books from the other sites rather than wait for 12 months for them to be published on Amazon. I'll also be forced to promote my latest releases on every other site other than Amazon.

Oh well, if Amazon are ok with that then so am I.



Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2017, 12:38:41 PM »
Interesting. What Amazon have been willing to accept as proof of copyright has always been unclear. Most of us have simply sent in a statement declaring ourselves as the copyright owner and that has been enough. The above two lines mean we must have registration, but that takes 12 months before we get the certificate.

If Amazon now insist we have the certificate or our books may be taken down then we'll be forced to delay publication for 12 months. My books are wide so I would publish on the other sites and market them through FB and other advertisers. I would be forced to explain why I am delaying publishing on Amazon.

I don't mind publishing on the other sites and delaying Amazon for 12 months until I get the copyright certificate. It just means when it comes to Amazon my books are on a diffferent release cycle to my writing cycle and every other site. From Amazon's point of view they might lose some of their readers/buyers because they'll buy my books from the other sites rather than wait for 12 months for them to be published on Amazon. I'll also be forced to promote my latest releases on every other site other than Amazon.

Oh well, if Amazon are ok with that then so am I.

You don't have to wait until you get the certificate. On your account on the copyright registration site, you should be able to get access to an online copy of your registration form soon after doing the registration, which you can download as a pdf. When I got one of these from Amazon, I replied from my official author email address as posted on my website saying "I am [REAL NAME], the author of this book, writing and publishing under the pen name Kyra Halland" and attached the pdf of the copyright registration form. My book went through within a few hours (I got the copyright confirmation letter from Amazon when I was changing the price on a book after a promo).
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 12:43:57 PM by Kyra Halland »


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2017, 12:44:45 PM »
You don't have to wait until you get the certificate. On your account on the copyright registration site, you should be able to get access to an online copy of your registration form soon after doing the registration, which you can download as a pdf. When I got one of these from Amazon, I replied from my official author email address as posted on my website saying "I am the author of this book, writing and publishing under [pen name]" and attached the pdf of the copyright registration form. My book went through within a few hours (I got the copyright confirmation letter from Amazon when I was changing the price on a book after a promo).

I just lifted the text of what the OP posted:

"Documentation we cannot accept includes:
- A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed"

It depends on whether they mean they'll accept an "application" versus and actual registration number. In your case, they accepted the "application" because you haven't got a registration number, but they seem to change the rules. I simply looked at the worst case scenario where they only accept a registration certificate/number and assessed what I'd do about that.

Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2017, 12:50:46 PM »
I just lifted the text of what the OP posted:

"Documentation we cannot accept includes:
- A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed"

It depends on whether they mean they'll accept an "application" versus and actual registration number. In your case, they accepted the "application" because you haven't got a registration number, but they seem to change the rules. I simply looked at the worst case scenario where they only accept a registration certificate/number and assessed what I'd do about that.


Yeah, come to think of it, this was a book that had already been out for a couple of years.

But to reassure the OP, I had no trouble, and I've never heard of anyone having any trouble, just responding to the email from their official author email address as posted on their official author website stating they're the author and hold the rights, along with a statement of their pen name (if applicable). If you start here and they're stubborn about it, I guess you escalate until you get someone who lets it through.


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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2017, 12:57:17 PM »
Yeah, come to think of it, this was a book that had already been out for a couple of years.

But to reassure the OP, I had no trouble, and I've never heard of anyone having any trouble, just responding to the email from their official author email address as posted on their official author website stating they're the author and hold the rights, along with a statement of their pen name (if applicable). If you start here and they're stubborn about it, I guess you escalate until you get someone who lets it through.

I'm sure the OP will be able to fight this one out, but I've been tracking the evolution of Amazon's demands for proof of copyright. I suspect there has been a policy shift they are slowly moving towards, which will involve copyright registration for all books. Bringing down a hammer would be too disruptive, so Amazon are using harassment tactics to get authors to apply for copyright. It worked on me and now all of my major series are registered. I didn't bother with the standalones. They don't sell well and Amazon can take them down for all I care.

Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2017, 01:02:38 PM »
I wonder if they would accept the neat pile of rejection letters going back 30 years from trad publishers  ;D

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2017, 01:22:18 PM »
Due to an impending author rebranding, my site was taken down as I work to create a new one. I've previously had these requests and was able to use my author site as proof. I've sent a similar email as above and hoping for the best.

If they don't accept it, just spend a few minutes setting up a free one-page site somewhere that shows your email address, then email KDP again, this time with a link to the site included.

Offline Sydney

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2017, 09:32:52 AM »
I woke up this morning to the same email requesting proof of copyright for my most successful book. I had registered it, but I can't find the documentation. Luckily, copyrights are public record, so I downloaded the record and emailed it to them. Think that's sufficient? (trying not to panic).

Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2017, 10:21:13 AM »
I woke up this morning to the same email requesting proof of copyright for my most successful book. I had registered it, but I can't find the documentation. Luckily, copyrights are public record, so I downloaded the record and emailed it to them. Think that's sufficient? (trying not to panic).


Have you updated anything with that book recently? Keywords? Back matter?

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Offline Bookread

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2017, 10:24:31 AM »
I haven't heard of this happening before, so I appreciate the information. It's handy to have good housekeeping.
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Offline Sydney

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2017, 10:26:08 AM »
Have you updated anything with that book recently? Keywords? Back matter?

I enrolled it in KDP about a week ago. That's all.

Offline K.B.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2017, 12:21:57 PM »
I still haven't heard anything from them, and to answer a question upthread, the only change I made was to adjust the price from $2.99 to $3.99.

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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2017, 12:42:05 PM »
This is quite worrying and makes you think twice before making even the slightest change in case it triggers something untoward  :o.

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Offline ImaWriter

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2017, 01:05:17 PM »
You can go here to copyright your work online for free: http://myows.com/
But this website is the most legitimate: https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov
Your main goal for copyright is to eventually get all your works registered with the US Copyright office.

Bold mine. Sorry, but I beg to differ. Registering copyright with the government is the ONLY legit way to do it, not the most. There is no free way to get copyright. Go straight to the Gov or get it done by a 3rd party vendor who will submit it legally for you--for a surcharge. 

Due to an impending author rebranding, my site was taken down as I work to create a new one. I've previously had these requests and was able to use my author site as proof. I've sent a similar email as above and hoping for the best.

OP, if what you've done so far doesn't pan out, how about searching to see if you can find your site in the Wayback Machine? Perhaps with a link to that and proof you own the domain--assuming you aren't using a freebie platform--you might get farther. Proof could be a screenshot from your Domain Manager where ever you purchased the domain and or a screenshot from WhoIs. Although WhoIs is public and anyone could take a screenshot there. Only you could access your Domain Manager.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 01:03:59 PM by ImaWriter »

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2017, 01:36:44 PM »
I haven't heard of this happening before, so I appreciate the information. It's handy to have good housekeeping.

It happens a lot and, I have to say, it's really annoying. You'd think they could put a "copyright has been verified" tag in the hidden metadata of each book so that they don't re-query you every time you update something. I used to make little changes and tweaks to my books quite a bit. Now I don't because there's a copyright query every time. Sometimes combined with "send us a complete list of everywhere it appears free, with verification that you put it in all those places," which is a huge drag for free books with very wide distribution. <grumble>

Offline K.B.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2017, 04:16:21 PM »
I received an email a few hours ago saying "Bad Reputation" has been published, so the vague email above worked.

Thanks, everyone!

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Offline lsjohnson

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2017, 04:21:27 PM »
Note that when you file for copyright with the US Government, you can file multiple works at one time and only pay the one fee (last time I did this it was $35, not sure if it's gone up since then.) I registered my collection, plus a couple of novelettes I was thinking of publishing as standalones, and the then-current draft of my novel so I could start floating around excerpts without worry.





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Offline Mercedes Vox

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2017, 07:55:20 PM »
Note that when you file for copyright with the US Government, you can file multiple works at one time and only pay the one fee (last time I did this it was $35, not sure if it's gone up since then.) I registered my collection, plus a couple of novelettes I was thinking of publishing as standalones, and the then-current draft of my novel so I could start floating around excerpts without worry.

The $35 US copyright fee (called "single application") filed through the electronic Copyright Office (eCO) is for: a) a single author who, b) is also the sole claimant, c) in a single work that, d) is not made for hire.

Which form did you file for your body of work?

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Offline Shelley K

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2017, 09:05:19 PM »
Note that when you file for copyright with the US Government, you can file multiple works at one time and only pay the one fee (last time I did this it was $35, not sure if it's gone up since then.) I registered my collection, plus a couple of novelettes I was thinking of publishing as standalones, and the then-current draft of my novel so I could start floating around excerpts without worry.


If you just want a certificate to show Amazon or something (though it's not required), that'll work. But that's actually an illegitimate registration unless the books you registered as a collection were actually published as a collection. So the sole purpose of a registration--to be able to sue for monetary damages in the event of copyright infringement--is nullified by an invalid registration. Just FYI.

Offline Nic

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2017, 09:16:19 PM »
This surely can only apply to US authors? Why or how would they enforce a US registration for authors not living in the USA?

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2017, 09:29:44 PM »
This surely can only apply to US authors? Why or how would they enforce a US registration for authors not living in the USA?

That's a really good question.  The US is the only one of the Berne countries to make registration "voluntary but really required if you want to sue an infringer in federal court and be able to get any real damages", and while many of the others have voluntary registries, the UK which would arguably be the second largest supplier of indie authors on Amazon does not have any such thing.  So how would a UK author "prove" ownership/rights?

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2017, 09:47:27 PM »
That's a really good question.  The US is the only one of the Berne countries to make registration "voluntary but really required if you want to sue an infringer in federal court and be able to get any real damages", and while many of the others have voluntary registries, the UK which would arguably be the second largest supplier of indie authors on Amazon does not have any such thing.  So how would a UK author "prove" ownership/rights?

I think most non-U.S. authors can file for U.S. copyright, if they want to have a piece of paper to wave at Amazon. See here for details.

Offline Shelley K

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #30 on: July 15, 2017, 09:54:22 PM »
If people wish to file for copyright, that's fine. But you own the copyright when you write it. A simple statement that says you are the author and that you have the copyright is typically fine. If not, escalate it to the point that you get a phone call and explain it until they understand. You shouldn't need a registration to get it sorted.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #31 on: July 15, 2017, 09:59:48 PM »
If people wish to file for copyright, that's fine. But you own the copyright when you write it. A simple statement that says you are the author and that you have the copyright is typically fine. If not, escalate it to the point that you get a phone call and explain it until they understand. You shouldn't need a registration to get it sorted.

That may well be true, but if Amazon decide that you must have a registration to prove ownership then you have to have it.

This repeated illogical harassment to prove copyright has a purpose. Don't ask me what it is, but they're doing it for a reason. It may just be because they like to keep authors off center, or maybe they're going to demand copyright as a way of weeding out the scammers. I don't know what they're doing, but this constant and unnecessary harassment means something.

Offline Nic

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2017, 10:02:55 PM »
I think most non-U.S. authors can file for U.S. copyright, if they want to have a piece of paper to wave at Amazon. See here for details.

The question isn't whether they can, the question is why they should have to do this. I see no reason to support the US government with my money, and I am sure that a lot of people who aren't Americans also fail to see why they should subsidise a US institution they do not really need.

I own the copyright of my works the moment I create something. I do not have to register it to be able to defend my copyright in court. Once I have published a work, I have proof already, and as long as I haven't, I can mail myself or my solicitor a sealed and witnessed envelope, and that is all. But even if I don't do this, our judges don't just dismiss our right in a work.

Offline Shelley K

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #33 on: July 15, 2017, 10:07:19 PM »
That may well be true, but if Amazon decide that you must have a registration to prove ownership then you have to have it.

This repeated illogical harassment to prove copyright has a purpose. Don't ask me what it is, but they're doing it for a reason. It may just be because they like to keep authors off center, or maybe they're going to demand copyright as a way of weeding out the scammers. I don't know what they're doing, but this constant and unnecessary harassment means something.

I could publish your book and then register the copyright in my name when asked by Amazon. Demanding a registration isn't going to weed anything. I think it's saber-rattling at this point, since several people I know so far have not actually had to register a copyright to get it sorted. So they don't require it, yet, no matter what the email says.

They could start demanding it, but it's not going to actually do anything practical. I think it's just scare language, and nothing to worry about at this time.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #34 on: July 15, 2017, 10:12:30 PM »
I could publish your book and then register the copyright in my name when asked by Amazon. Demanding a registration isn't going to weed anything. I think it's saber-rattling at this point, since several people I know so far have not actually had to register a copyright to get it sorted. So they don't require it, yet, no matter what the email says.

They could start demanding it, but it's not going to actually do anything practical. I think it's just scare language, and nothing to worry about at this time.

Like I said, I don't know why they're behaving this way. To save myself the irritation I've registered my books anyway. It doesn't cost much and I take it to be good business practice, but I don't publish every week or month so it's not a significant expense or effort.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2017, 10:19:12 PM »
The question isn't whether they can, the question is why they should have to do this. I see no reason to support the US government with my money, and I am sure that a lot of people who aren't Americans also fail to see why they should subsidise a US institution they do not really need.

I own the copyright of my works the moment I create something. I do not have to register it to be able to defend my copyright in court. Once I have published a work, I have proof already, and as long as I haven't, I can mail myself or my solicitor a sealed and witnessed envelope, and that is all. But even if I don't do this, our judges don't just dismiss our right in a work.

Sure, and I agree that you shouldn't have to. U.S. authors don't have to, either. We too own copyright at the moment of writing. But if you're a cautious type and don't mind paying for insurance you'll probably never use, it's something you can do.

Like I said, I don't know why they're behaving this way.

My guess is that their legal department has told them they have to. Can't imagine why else they'd sink so much time into managing these queries when there's so much else they don't do but really should.

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2017, 10:26:18 PM »
My guess is that their legal department has told them they have to. Can't imagine why else they'd sink so much time into managing these queries when there's so much else they don't do but really should.

True story!

Even if it is merely the advice of their legal department, it's the most bizarre and uneven handed way of dealing with it. Sometimes I think Amazon just like to keep authors off balance. Constantly reminding us that we exist on the Amazon site at their whim (regardless of whether we're doing anything wrong or not) is a form of bullying and control. We become so used to their unreasonable behavior that we let other more lucrative (for Amazon) issues slide.


Offline Matt.Banks

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2017, 10:50:22 PM »
I was under the impression that a collection of works could be registered together, such as a trilogy or other number of books. Is that incorrect?

Offline Kyra Halland

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2017, 10:59:25 PM »
I was under the impression that a collection of works could be registered together, such as a trilogy or other number of books. Is that incorrect?

I could be wrong, and the US Copyright site is offline for maintenance at the moment, but I believe you can register things like stories in an anthology together, but not separate books. So I could register the two stories in my "Warrior and Holy Man" collection on one registration, but not the six books in the Daughter of the Wildings series.


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Offline Shelley K

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2017, 11:34:51 PM »
I was under the impression that a collection of works could be registered together, such as a trilogy or other number of books. Is that incorrect?

If the trilogy has been published in one volume, you can register the volume. But if they were published as three separate books, that's three separate registrations. People have combining stuff to register for years now to save money, and it may work for Amazon's purposes if you want to show them something "official." But it's not a valid registration, and if you ever wanted to sue somebody for money over your copyright, it wouldn't be valid. You could still take legal action against them and get them to take down your material, because the copyright is still yours, but the main purpose of registration is for financial damages in the event of a lawsuit. Registering improperly makes it useless for that.

Offline Cecelia

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #40 on: July 16, 2017, 01:52:29 AM »
If you are the author and publisher you ought to be able to write out your own proof.

I keep my first drafts even if they are rubbish and something I call my "concept folder" which is where I jotted down my ideas, collected pictures & filed old calendars & other forms of inspiration, so if I ever have a copyright issue I can prove I developed and wrote the text.

Regstering with the US Copyright Office is voluntary, as your copyright is already protected by law. Moreover, if your copyright issue should occur outside the US registration is useless.

Purchasing your own ISBNs may help with this issue as Amazon could check who the ISBN is registered to with Thorpe-Bowker.
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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2017, 11:53:10 AM »
I entered two of my books in ABNA (one was a semi-finalist). Can I assume they would take that as proof of copyright?  ;D

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #42 on: July 16, 2017, 12:39:41 PM »
Quote
- If you are not the author, an e-mail from the address listed on the author�s (or their agent�s) official website confirming that you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected.
Do the above. If you don't have an author website, go to Wordpress and set up a quick one with a contact page that shows your email address. Then write to Amazon from that address with a link to the page on your author site where they can see the address displayed. These copyright queries are common, so you need to be set up to deal with them.
This is what I do when they occasionally decide to question my copyright. It works just fine. Nothing more is required. Don't over-complicate this; they're just covering their asses.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 12:43:01 PM by JRTomlin »

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Offline Dolphin

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #43 on: July 16, 2017, 01:44:51 PM »
That may well be true, but if Amazon decide that you must have a registration to prove ownership then you have to have it.

This repeated illogical harassment to prove copyright has a purpose. Don't ask me what it is, but they're doing it for a reason. It may just be because they like to keep authors off center, or maybe they're going to demand copyright as a way of weeding out the scammers. I don't know what they're doing, but this constant and unnecessary harassment means something.

Of course it's to weed out scammers. That's what we've been begging for, right? I've been saying for years that such a thing would come with costs. Nobody should be surprised if the bill is coming due.

Suppose this is your bailiwick at Amazon. You've designed a system that checks 743 different variables in each book, consults databases measured in petabytes, and still it isn't perfect. You can't tell with 100% accuracy which books are newly self-published by authors, which are pirated, which are published by small presses after rights reverted from large presses, which are robot-doctored scamphlets, which are multi-author bundles, &c.

You're leaving money on the table. How do you improve the system?

It occurs to you that one way would be requesting proof of copyright. Every legitimate party should have it, and any number of illegitimate schemes could be foiled. So you set about testing different emails. The first one reads, in full, "Hey man, is this your book? Love, KDP." 98.2% of those are returned along the lines of "Yeah man, totes," and you know for a fact that many of them are scammers. It's not good enough. You spitball ideas with your team, and one guy--let's call him Oebares--Oebares has a stroke of genius: your standard internally will be flexible, accepting anything from an earnest note to a link to an author's defunct website in the Wayback Machine, but your actual email will demand an honest-to-God piece of paper from the U.S. Copyright Office.

Bingo.

The new standard is a roaring success, eliminating fully 22% of the nastygrammed books without costing another man moment from KDP Customer Service. People just don't respond, thinking they can't prove their copyright to your satisfaction. High fives are exchanged. Chests are bumped. Beers after work are on you. But poring over the results, you feel a flicker of doubt. Yes, many of these books are indisputably scams...but what's wrong with this blameless, #258,203 novel? It looks perfectly in earnest. You assuage your guilt by adding it to your Wish List (I bet Trish would enjoy this). The deeper you go, the more false positives you find.

How many dolphins are you willing to catch with the tuna? What's an acceptable rate of false positives? Is the program a success if just 2% of all legitimate books are unpublished erroneously? What about 1%? What about 0.01%? What if a single author throws up their hands and abandons writing, unable to afford the $35 a pop to register their catalog? What if the program unpublishes just a single innocent book?

These are the ongoing costs of dealing with scammers. Scammers gonna scam--they'll never be eliminated entirely. Simply cracking down, minimizing their presence, is going to cost us things, whether it's simply losing staff hours that could be going towards other improvements on our behalf, KU payouts growing more slowly because of overhead, or even losing authors entirely because they didn't realize that the copyright email was aimed at evildoers. There's always a cost.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #44 on: July 16, 2017, 02:23:18 PM »
... I own the copyright of my works the moment I create something. I do not have to register it to be able to defend my copyright in court. Once I have published a work, I have proof already, and as long as I haven't, I can mail myself or my solicitor a sealed and witnessed envelope, and that is all. But even if I don't do this, our judges don't just dismiss our right in a work.

Yep. Good system.

Offline Alpaca Lou

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #45 on: July 16, 2017, 03:58:52 PM »
The question isn't whether they can, the question is why they should have to do this. I see no reason to support the US government with my money, and I am sure that a lot of people who aren't Americans also fail to see why they should subsidise a US institution they do not really need.

I own the copyright of my works the moment I create something. I do not have to register it to be able to defend my copyright in court. Once I have published a work, I have proof already, and as long as I haven't, I can mail myself or my solicitor a sealed and witnessed envelope, and that is all. But even if I don't do this, our judges don't just dismiss our right in a work.

Nor do US judges.

Offline Tess McCallum

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #46 on: July 16, 2017, 05:17:48 PM »
That's a really good question.  The US is the only one of the Berne countries to make registration "voluntary but really required if you want to sue an infringer in federal court and be able to get any real damages", and while many of the others have voluntary registries, the UK which would arguably be the second largest supplier of indie authors on Amazon does not have any such thing.  So how would a UK author "prove" ownership/rights?
Similiarly, Australia has no copyright registration either.  Copyright is automatically attributed upon creation of the works. The following from the Australian Attorney-General's Department "Short Guide to Copyright":

Quote
How do you obtain copyright protection?
The Attorney-General's Department is aware of Australian-operated websites purporting to offer
copyright protection or Australian 'registration' of copyright for payment of a fee.
No such registration or other formality is necessary for copyright protection in Australia, and these
websites have no authority or capacity to guarantee copyright 'protection'.
If you are considering using one of these services, please read the information on copyright protection
below.

No formalities - including no registration
The Copyright Act does not require the completion of formalities (such as publication, registration or the
payment of fees) in order to obtain protection in Australia, or any other country which is also a party to an
international copyright treaty. This is unlike the position with patents, trade marks, designs and plant
breeder's rights where registration is a precondition to protection. Copyright protection is granted
automatically from the time an original work is created.

Copyright notice
Although copyright protection in Australia is not dependent upon formal notice, it is best practice and
advisable for copyright owners to place a copyright notice in a prominent place on their work. There is no
set form of words for a copyright notice, but such a notice may state:
This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be
reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission of
[name and address of copyright owner and the year in which the work was made].


It is sensible for copyright owners to regard their copyright as an item of property and to deal with it in a
business-like way. Copyright owners should always keep dated copies of their works (eg manuscripts and
tapes) and copies of any letters submitting their work to others. No document dealing with copyright
should be signed unless its contents are fully understood.

Copyright owners of material in electronic form may also wish to attach electronic rights management
information to their work or other subject-matter. The removal or alteration of this material is prohibited
by the Copyright Act in certain circumstances. Copyright owners of material in electronic form can also
protect their material by technologies such as password protection or software locks. The Copyright Act
also prohibits the circumvention of locks which control access and dealings in devices and services used
to circumvent locks.

How do you prove ownership of copyright if there is no system of registration?
In most cases the issue of ownership of copyright will not be in dispute. However, where there is a
dispute which comes before a court, the court will take into account the evidence of the person who
created the work and other persons who were involved in or who knew about the creation of the work.
Statements of the ownership of copyright and the date of publication or manufacture appearing on the
labelling or packaging of copies of copyright materials will be treated in court as accurate evidence of
what they say (through evidential presumptions), unless the person disputing those issues can point to
something raising a question about their accuracy. Documents recording the passing of copyright from the
original owner to the person claiming present ownership will be similarly treated as evidence unless there
is something to question the accuracy of that.


« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 09:52:46 PM by Tess McCallum »

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Offline Jill Nojack

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #47 on: July 16, 2017, 09:20:08 PM »
Sure, and I agree that you shouldn't have to. U.S. authors don't have to, either. We too own copyright at the moment of writing. But if you're a cautious type and don't mind paying for insurance you'll probably never use, it's something you can do.

The other reason to copyright in the US is because unless you registered for copyright, you cannot sue for damages. For instance, someone else sells (or places into a the borrowing arrangement) your book on Amazon, iTunes, Scribd, etc. They collect money for this book which they do not pay to the infringer. That money belongs to you, but the retailer keeps it.

They would potentially have to cede that money to you as the registered copyright holder. Without that stamp from the government, you lose the right to go to court to get it. (But let's face it, who is going to take Apple or Amazon to court to get their money?)

But the important part is that you have that copyright, and they can't go "work it out with the other author" when someone steals your book.

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #48 on: July 16, 2017, 09:28:37 PM »
But the important part is that you have that copyright, and they can't go "work it out with the other author" when someone steals your book.

Oh they can, and they do! Unfortunately, having the piece of paper is not enough. It may help, though.

Offline Issy

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #49 on: July 16, 2017, 11:34:01 PM »
I am in the UK. I just send the email that I posted on page one which confirms me as the copyright holder. Under UK law the creator is the copyright holder and nothing more needs to be done. And they have always accepted the email declaration.
 

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #50 on: July 17, 2017, 07:31:23 AM »
The $35 US copyright fee (called "single application") filed through the electronic Copyright Office (eCO) is for: a) a single author who, b) is also the sole claimant, c) in a single work that, d) is not made for hire.

Which form did you file for your body of work?

ARGH. Mea culpa. I filed under GR/CP because everything in the group had either been published previously in magazines or was scheduled for publication. Apologies for the bad info, folks! Though this is a possibility if you want to round up a lot of shorts/excerpts and get them done at once.


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Offline Alpaca Lou

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #51 on: July 17, 2017, 09:17:10 AM »
The other reason to copyright in the US is because unless you registered for copyright, you cannot sue for damages. For instance, someone else sells (or places into a the borrowing arrangement) your book on Amazon, iTunes, Scribd, etc. They collect money for this book which they do not pay to the infringer. That money belongs to you, but the retailer keeps it.

They would potentially have to cede that money to you as the registered copyright holder. Without that stamp from the government, you lose the right to go to court to get it. (But let's face it, who is going to take Apple or Amazon to court to get their money?)

But the important part is that you have that copyright, and they can't go "work it out with the other author" when someone steals your book.

In the US, you can win a copyright infringement suit whether you registered the copyright or not.

The difference is that if you haven't registered the copyright, you have to pay your own legal fees, and you also have to prove that you were damaged by the infringement and/or that the infringer profited from it. If there's minimal proof of those things, then the potential damage award will be less than the costs of bringing the lawsuit. If the infringement was small and unprofitable, then economically it won't be worthwhile to file the lawsuit, but it could still be done if one wanted to. But if the infringer was, say, a movie studio that made a massively profitable movie off of a book without permission, then the lawsuit could be viable.

If the copyright was registered before the infringement, then the copyright holder may not have to pay their own legal fees for the case, or prove damages. They may be entitled to statutory damages. That means that a small infringement case could still be very viable, and lawyers will take the case because they'll still get paid.


In the UK, copyright registration is more about having better (more credible) evidence. But you have to keep paying fees to renew the registration, which could be annoying for someone who has published many books. In the US, you gain additional legal rights by registering, which is an added incentive to register. For what it's worth, US, UK, Canadian, Australian, French, German, Italian etc copyright registrations can all be used in many countries throughout the world. US copyright registrations are accepted in the courts of the UK, and vice versa.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 09:29:03 AM by Alpaca Lou »

Offline thevoiceofone

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #52 on: July 17, 2017, 11:04:12 AM »
Don't panic! It's their standard checkup if they suspect an issue (for any reason).
I usually reply something like this and it's enough for them so far -

"I am the author of this work and no rights are currently sold to any publishers or have been in the past.
I have only published this on KDP, therefore have no reversions to document."

You may want to modify something like that and add that it's a pen name.

That has worked for me too.

Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #53 on: July 17, 2017, 01:12:35 PM »
In the US, you can win a copyright infringement suit whether you registered the copyright or not.

The difference is that if you haven't registered the copyright, you have to pay your own legal fees, and you also have to prove that you were damaged by the infringement and/or that the infringer profited from it. If there's minimal proof of those things, then the potential damage award will be less than the costs of bringing the lawsuit. If the infringement was small and unprofitable, then economically it won't be worthwhile to file the lawsuit, but it could still be done if one wanted to. But if the infringer was, say, a movie studio that made a massively profitable movie off of a book without permission, then the lawsuit could be viable.

If the copyright was registered before the infringement, then the copyright holder may not have to pay their own legal fees for the case, or prove damages. They may be entitled to statutory damages. That means that a small infringement case could still be very viable, and lawyers will take the case because they'll still get paid.


In the UK, copyright registration is more about having better (more credible) evidence. But you have to keep paying fees to renew the registration, which could be annoying for someone who has published many books. In the US, you gain additional legal rights by registering, which is an added incentive to register. For what it's worth, US, UK, Canadian, Australian, French, German, Italian etc copyright registrations can all be used in many countries throughout the world. US copyright registrations are accepted in the courts of the UK, and vice versa.

This makes sense. Thank you! I was just at a writer's conference where an attorney spoke at one of the sessions and told us we should always register copyright- if necessary multiple times from an early point in creation of the work- and that if we didn't no attorney would take our case in court and we would have essentially zero chance of winning. Totally at odds with everything I've always heard, but if there's a difference in the legal fees/damages equation then both the must-register/no-need-to-register camps become reconcilable.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #54 on: July 17, 2017, 01:35:22 PM »
When you upload to Amazon, that should be your copyright. As long as no one else can prove that they had the work in existence before the date you upload it. The statement above should work to prove that.
You can go here to copyright your work online for free:

NO!

First, copyright is AUTOMATIC under the Berne Convention. Copyright registration is not a requirement for a copyright to be valid. The moment a work is set in fixed form, it is protected.

Registration with your country's governing body provides ADDITIONAL protections but is not required. ONLY the governing body of your country can issue a legal registration. In the U.S. that is copyright.gov. It will be different for each country. Some countries provide free registration, others charge a small fee. Almost all require a physical deposit of the book. But if it is not coming from an actual government body, it is not offering legal protection.





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