Author Topic: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright  (Read 3510 times)  

Offline lsjohnson

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #25 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 #26 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 #27 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 #28 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 #29 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 #30 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 #31 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 #32 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 #33 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 #34 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 #35 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 #36 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 #37 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 #38 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?

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #39 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 #40 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 #41 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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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #42 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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Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #43 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 #44 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.

Offline Colin

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Re: Help; Amazon is demanding I prove copyright
« Reply #45 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 #46 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 #47 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 #48 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 #49 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.