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A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death.

Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love....

Author Topic: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?  (Read 2004 times)  

Offline AlexaKang

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Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« on: November 12, 2017, 08:43:48 PM »
I thought I'd seen them on book blurbs but on the AMS thread it was noted that we can't quote customer reviews in Amazon ads. What about blurbs?

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2017, 09:23:57 PM »
Do you have the customers permission to use their review?

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2017, 09:49:01 PM »
I frequently use aspects of peoples reviews in my blurb. (Often they can say something better than I can and at least it's honest). BUT! Who owns the reviews? Do we know? What are the repub rights of reviews on an author's books. Does it lie with Amazon, the Author, the Reviewer, or nobody as it's a public posting. Interesting to know the LEGAL aspect. Has anyone ever actually been forced to remove their 'review' from their blurb?


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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2017, 11:01:30 PM »
I frequently use aspects of peoples reviews in my blurb. (Often they can say something better than I can and at least it's honest). BUT! Who owns the reviews? Do we know? What are the repub rights of reviews on an author's books. Does it lie with Amazon, the Author, the Reviewer, or nobody as it's a public posting. Interesting to know the LEGAL aspect. Has anyone ever actually been forced to remove their 'review' from their blurb?

I've certainly seen them used on FB ads. I believe people use them on Bookbub ads too. I'm wondering what Amazon's policy is about sellers/authors using review snippets. I recall reading somewhere Amazon supports showing customer review quotes in editorial reviews but that was a long time ago and I can't remember where I read that. Not sure if they have a policy as to quoting them in blurbs though.

I would think that Amazon at least has covered itself somehow to have automatic license to use any content posted on its own site. Otherwise they would have a nightmare on hand. But I don't know what the answer is to your question.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2017, 11:07:19 PM by AlexaKang »

Offline Vishal Reddy

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2017, 02:06:53 AM »
I thought I'd seen them on book blurbs but on the AMS thread it was noted that we can't quote customer reviews in Amazon ads. What about blurbs?

I listed 10 positive customer reviews in my blurb:

http://amzn.to/2qOgh0H


Offline RTW

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2017, 05:23:52 AM »
I had quoted--using quote marks--2 or 3 words each of different customer reviews in an AMS ad that Amazon took down. But their policy is so vague that I've had to write to them twice now for clarification. I'm currently awaiting their new response. Because apparently, if I understand their policy correctly (which I may not), you can quote from reviews that are in your blurb. So the question is: If I put snippets of Amazon customer reviews in my blurb--what Amazon refers to as the book description--can I then use these selfsame quotes in AMS ads? Because then they're in the book description and not just in the reviewer area.

So far no one at Amazon has been able to answer this question for me but instead I keep getting their written policy quoted back to me.

I'll post here if I ever get an answer I understand.

Interestingly, the ad they took down had run earlier without a problem. I guess no one at AMS noticed it at the time. It seemed to me that fair use covered this sort of thing, but Amazon's policies are another matter.

I also wonder if there's a problem quoting from customer reviews on one's website.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2017, 07:03:14 AM »

I also wonder if there's a problem quoting from customer reviews on one's website.

Technically Amazon can't come after you for this because Amazon is not the copyright owner. I guess the question may be asked if the reviewer can come after you for it. For all practical purposes, unless you're a deep pocket and/or the reviewer has the $$ to pay a lawyer, no lawyer in his or her right mind would take on such a case. People are copyright owners sue on a case because what they've written has monetary value to protect from republication. It's rare someone sue on the principle of it. An Amazon reviewer cannot really capitalize on the IP of the review. Unless he's suing you because you're a deep pocket. But then I think it could backfire because it could make the reviewer look like an opportunist.


ETA: Another thing is, depends on what user name the customer uses to post the review, it may be hard to prove he/she own that review. There are a lot of reviews by simply "Amazon Customer".  If an author quoted "Great Read" by Amazon Customer, it's kind of hard to argue that YOU are the Amazon customer who has the right to sue on this.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 07:05:53 AM by AlexaKang »

Offline Mercedes Vox

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2017, 07:16:35 AM »
Any potential legal issues aside, I think it's common courtesy to seek permission to use someone else's words to advertise my book, so I always ask. I've never been declined.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2017, 07:32:14 AM »
ETA: Another thing is, depends on what user name the customer uses to post the review, it may be hard to prove he/she own that review. There are a lot of reviews by simply "Amazon Customer".  If an author quoted "Great Read" by Amazon Customer, it's kind of hard to argue that YOU are the Amazon customer who has the right to sue on this.

Maybe if there are 15 reviews that say "Great Read," but if there's only one, all the claimant would have to do is log into the Amazon account, pull up the history of reviews, and point at it to prove ownership.

Legally, Amazon doesn't want anything to do with your use of someone else's words, and they will refuse ads and affiliate applications and anything else the legal department feels could potentially make them party to a legal conflict. Book descriptions seem to get even less scrutiny than the books themselves, so you may be able to get away with pasting excerpts from reviews (redundantly, since they're right at the bottom of the page to read in full  ::) ) FOR NOW, but don't be surprised if they get one complaint and start sending "Produce written permission from the reviewer or get your account banned" emails in their usual wrecking ball fashion.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 07:33:51 AM »
Any potential legal issues aside, I think it's common courtesy to seek permission to use someone else's words to advertise my book, so I always ask. I've never been declined.

You must have some form of special access then, because I'm unable to contact ANY of my Amazon reviewers and there's a few that I wouldn't mind having a convo with I can tell you :P ) :D


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Offline Mercedes Vox

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2017, 07:44:49 AM »
You must have some form of special access then, because I'm unable to contact ANY of my Amazon reviewers and there's a few that I wouldn't mind having a convo with I can tell you :P ) :D

In my genres, I've found that a majority of the more detailed critical reviews posted on Amazon were posted on blogs or Goodreads first.

If the reviewer uses their blog name on Amazon reviews, it's super-easy to find them outside the Amazon ecosystem. If not, I simply copy a line from the review on Amazon that has distinctive wording and let Google find the original source, if any, for me. Pretty simple to find contact info at that point.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2017, 08:25:38 AM »
Maybe if there are 15 reviews that say "Great Read," but if there's only one, all the claimant would have to do is log into the Amazon account, pull up the history of reviews, and point at it to prove ownership.

Legally, Amazon doesn't want anything to do with your use of someone else's words, and they will refuse ads and affiliate applications and anything else the legal department feels could potentially make them party to a legal conflict. Book descriptions seem to get even less scrutiny than the books themselves, so you may be able to get away with pasting excerpts from reviews (redundantly, since they're right at the bottom of the page to read in full  ::) ) FOR NOW, but don't be surprised if they get one complaint and start sending "Produce written permission from the reviewer or get your account banned" emails in their usual wrecking ball fashion.



Well let me point out also then that nobody can really claim copyright to "Great Read", or else no one anywhere will ever be able to write, publish or post these two words anywhere ever. This claim is so general, no one has any case.

ETA: Legally speaking, copyrightable text needs to have at least some form of originality and minimal creativity. Something like "Great Read" doesn't meet that threshold.

In my genres, I've found that a majority of the more detailed critical reviews posted on Amazon were posted on blogs or Goodreads first.

If the reviewer uses their blog name on Amazon reviews, it's super-easy to find them outside the Amazon ecosystem. If not, I simply copy a line from the review on Amazon that has distinctive wording and let Google find the original source, if any, for me. Pretty simple to find contact info at that point.

Most people won't be that tech savvy.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 08:30:28 AM by AlexaKang »

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2017, 09:39:29 AM »
I'm looking at copyright laws in US and UK. You really can't claim copyright simply because you've written something and shown it publicly. It has to have some form of originality and creativity that you can claim as your own. I think common sense would lead to the conclusion that this is the case with copyright laws elsewhere, or else nobody will ever be able to say anything.

So my read on this is that if your quotes are very general such that it can't be said to have minimal originality or creativity, you're on the safe side of the law. (Again, I can't imagine any reviewer would find it financially worthwhile to sue either way unless you are a big name with deep pockets to pay, and the reviewer is sure he has a good case.) Amazon policy of course is a different issue, and if someone knows exactly what Amazon's policy is, feel free to share.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 09:41:21 AM by AlexaKang »

Offline Mercedes Vox

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2017, 09:58:37 AM »
Most people won't be that tech savvy.

Tech savvy? If a person can upload a book through KDP, I'm pretty sure they have the necessary skills to copy-and-paste a blogger's name or a phrase from a review into the Google search box and then look for the "contact" button on the blogger's blog.

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Offline A.G.B

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2017, 10:07:21 AM »
Tech savvy? If a person can upload a book through KDP, I'm pretty sure they have the necessary skills to copy-and-paste a blogger's name or a phrase from a review into the Google search box and then look for the "contact" button on the blogger's blog.
Most I've seen have no blog, and their Amazon profile is anonymous and doesn't have an email address.

Offline veinglory

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2017, 10:24:38 AM »
You must have some form of special access then, because I'm unable to contact ANY of my Amazon reviewers and there's a few that I wouldn't mind having a convo with I can tell you :P ) :D

If they want to be contacted there will be an email on their profile when you click on their name.  Otherwise you are taking a guess at "fair use" with a short snippet quote.
 

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2017, 12:18:02 PM »
Any potential legal issues aside, I think it's common courtesy to seek permission to use someone else's words to advertise my book, so I always ask. I've never been declined.

^^^ This. Also, as authors, we expect others to respect our copyright. It should go without saying that we should do the same.
     

Offline MaryMcDonald

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2017, 12:25:46 PM »
I have some notable reviews excerpted in the editorial reviews (top Amazon reviewers, for example, or from book review blogs). I have not used one in a blurb. I don't know if it's allowed, but personally, I can see maybe using an excerpt or two, but when I'm looking for a book to read, I don't want to read a heavy sales pitch--I just want to know what the book is about. I've already been 'caught' so to speak, in that I've stopped long enough to check out the blurb. Just tell me what the story is about; don't make me hit the 'more' link to actually read any part of the blurb. Get at least a few lines above that.

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2017, 12:35:18 PM »
^^^ This. Also, as authors, we expect others to respect our copyright. It should go without saying that we should do the same.

Is it an issue of copyright though? We make comments here on a forum. The moment they're in print others can copy them and do whatever they want with them. Do we get asked? (I just quoted you - did I ask you before I did so? am I breaking your copyright by doing so?) The issue isn't about copyright, nor is it about courtesy. People write good and bad things in reviews on a public platform. They want it to be read, they want people to know what they think. By writing those reviews they are putting their opinions into the public domain - they no longer own them. If they don't want them quoted, they can remove their review and ask not to be quoted. What if you take their review, paraphrase it and combine it with others until you have a new description - the most you can be accused of is plagiarism. No, this isn't a simple matter of copyright or courtesy - it's really a matter of public ownership of words placed on a public noticeboard. Anyone can use them. My earlier question was just how legal is all this? Nobody has answered that satisfactorily and until that can be answered it's going to be open season on blurbs.  I think there might be an issue if you quote someone OUT of context and misrepresent their words, then they might have recourse against you. There is also the matter of if they are reviewing your book, there is an implied shared ownership between the author and reviewer. The issue is devilishly complex. Not an easy matter to resolve, especially on a public forum where all such conversations are able to be quoted without permission.


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Offline veinglory

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2017, 12:51:26 PM »
As a reviewer I assure you, it is a copyright issue for me.  My words, my copyright.  Anyone copying or excessively quoting my reviews will go on the DMCA list along with the book pirates.
 

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2017, 12:57:37 PM »
Is it an issue of copyright though? We make comments here on a forum. The moment they're in print others can copy them and do whatever they want with them. Do we get asked? (I just quoted you - did I ask you before I did so? am I breaking your copyright by doing so?) The issue isn't about copyright, nor is it about courtesy. People write good and bad things in reviews on a public platform. They want it to be read, they want people to know what they think. By writing those reviews they are putting their opinions into the public domain - they no longer own them. If they don't want them quoted, they can remove their review and ask not to be quoted. What if you take their review, paraphrase it and combine it with others until you have a new description - the most you can be accused of is plagiarism. No, this isn't a simple matter of copyright or courtesy - it's really a matter of public ownership of words placed on a public noticeboard. Anyone can use them. My earlier question was just how legal is all this? Nobody has answered that satisfactorily and until that can be answered it's going to be open season on blurbs.  I think there might be an issue if you quote someone OUT of context and misrepresent their words, then they might have recourse against you. There is also the matter of if they are reviewing your book, there is an implied shared ownership between the author and reviewer. The issue is devilishly complex. Not an easy matter to resolve, especially on a public forum where all such conversations are able to be quoted without permission.

On here people expect to be quoted, or at least should expect to be, since quoting is a feature of the site. Reviews are different. Obviously two-word reviews like 'great book' aren't unique enough to really be considered copyrighted. But the more in-depth ones are. And just because people want their reviews to be read doesn't mean authors have the right to use them for whatever they want.

Just because an issue won't get to court doesn't mean that it's not still a violation of copyright. And how does it imply shared ownership just because someone wrote a review of your book?

Also, Just because there is a feature that allows people to comment on and quote reviews doesn't mean it's acceptable to quote those reviews elsewhere in a different context.
     

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2017, 01:01:42 PM »
When Amazon bought Goodreads, there was a LOOOOOONG thread on GR where many reviewers expressed their displeasure, and announced that they were pulling all of their reviews out of concern that Amazon might try to claim ownership of them. So clearly some reviewers feel quite strongly about this, whether there's a financial aspect involved or not.


Online Tilly

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2017, 02:12:14 PM »
...Also, as authors, we expect others to respect our copyright. It should go without saying that we should do the same.

So much this ^

It is a huge issue for Goodreads users. If they find out an author is using their reviews without their express permission that's one way to get yourself on a whole load of [crap] lists. Personally I think it's one of those grey areas and its always interesting to see which way authors jump when they think something will benefit them and no one will notice...

I would also point out that using a quote from a customer review on a blurb really doesn't have any impact. For all readers know it could have been written by your mother. If you want a quote for a blurb I would approach authors who write in your genre, and especially those with credentials.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2017, 03:24:05 PM »
I wouldn't. Not impressive (people can just read the reviews for nonprofessional opinions), and possibly dicey legally. What does it gain you? I'm not sure it gains anything. It can look desperate.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2017, 04:07:56 PM »
Is it an issue of copyright though? We make comments here on a forum. The moment they're in print others can copy them and do whatever they want with them. Do we get asked? (I just quoted you - did I ask you before I did so? am I breaking your copyright by doing so?) The issue isn't about copyright, nor is it about courtesy. People write good and bad things in reviews on a public platform. They want it to be read, they want people to know what they think. By writing those reviews they are putting their opinions into the public domain - they no longer own them. If they don't want them quoted, they can remove their review and ask not to be quoted. What if you take their review, paraphrase it and combine it with others until you have a new description - the most you can be accused of is plagiarism. No, this isn't a simple matter of copyright or courtesy - it's really a matter of public ownership of words placed on a public noticeboard. Anyone can use them. My earlier question was just how legal is all this? Nobody has answered that satisfactorily and until that can be answered it's going to be open season on blurbs.  I think there might be an issue if you quote someone OUT of context and misrepresent their words, then they might have recourse against you. There is also the matter of if they are reviewing your book, there is an implied shared ownership between the author and reviewer. The issue is devilishly complex. Not an easy matter to resolve, especially on a public forum where all such conversations are able to be quoted without permission.

I think I provided partial answer to your question. If the quoted words are not unique enough to be copyrightable, then there is no violation of copyright law. For something to be within protection of copyright, it has to have minimal creativity and originality. So a short snippet that cannot be deemed to have met that threshold is not a legal violation. Whether the reviewer is upset: again, is the quoted words so unique that it can only be attributable to that particular reviewer? Something like "Great read" could've been said by a number of readers.

Whether it's impressive or not, I suppose it's a matter of personal opinion. Mark Dawson recommends using short snippets of customer reviews in FB ads. Adam Croft recommends it in Bookbub ads too. They said it's been shown to work.

I'm not advocating not asking for permission. That's up to each author and none of my business. The issue is vague enough that I don't feel it's my place to opine on what others do. I'm just trying to understand what Amazon's policy is about quoting reviews in blurbs, whether with or without the reviewer's permission. And no one has answered that question either.

ETA: I want to further clarify that my question is in regards to Amazon customer reviews, not blog reviews or other reviews from any other sites. Those brings a whole different set of issues which you guys are free to debate, but I'm still trying to figure out what is Amazon's policy.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 04:36:37 PM by AlexaKang »

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2017, 04:24:58 PM »
I don't use Goodreads and have no idea what goes on there. But as far as Amazon goes, copyright or no copyright, anyone who posts reviews there or on Amazon would have granted Amazon a non-exclusive license to use the review content any way Amazon wishes anyway, since Amazon also owns GR. At the most basic level, Amazon needs that license in order to publish the review. Amazon can't claim any ownership of any copyright associated with the review, but it most certainly would've covered itself in TOS somewhere that it can use posted content any damn way it pleases. I can't imagine Amazon would not have a sweeping clause to make sure of that when it's got millions of people posting God knows what on its site every day.

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2017, 04:34:18 PM »
I say just make your own for the blurb. Readers don't care who said them in the slightest unless it's someone famous to them. Quoting "Couldn't put down!" or "B3st b00k ev3r" is just wasting the space with garbage anyway. It doesn't matter if someone actually said the thing or not; the point of slapping something in italics and quotation marks is to convey something extra, in a format the blurb itself can't do. "Stephen King would dine on this novel like five star cuisine" is a way to go because it's illustrative and genre-suggestive.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #27 on: November 13, 2017, 04:35:28 PM »
I'm not advocating not asking for permission. That's up to each author and none of my business. The issue is vague enough that I don't feel it's my place to opine on what others do. I'm just trying to understand what Amazon's policy is about quoting reviews in blurbs, whether with or without the reviewer's permission. And no one has answered that question either.

There used to be something pretty specific in Amazon's TOS/Guidelines about who review content belongs to and I can no longer find it.  The closest I can come to is this under Infringing Content:

"Don't post content or interact with other members of the Community in a way that infringes the intellectual property or other proprietary rights of others. Only post your own content or content that you have permission to use."

I know Amazon will respond to reviewers who contact them about another reviewer plagiarizing reviews by taking down the plagiarized reviews and have banned reviewers who were doing it extensively.  So, I don't know if a reviewer saw a portion of their review being used in a blurb and reported it as plagiarism (or used without permission), what action Amazon would take.

Just my personal opinion as a reader, but I dislike seeing reviews in the blurb itself.  If I want reviews, I'll read the editorial section or, I don't know, the reviews themselves?
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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2017, 04:48:00 PM »
I say just make your own for the blurb. Readers don't care who said them in the slightest unless it's someone famous to them. Quoting "Couldn't put down!" or "B3st b00k ev3r" is just wasting the space with garbage anyway. It doesn't matter if someone actually said the thing or not; the point of slapping something in italics and quotation marks is to convey something extra, in a format the blurb itself can't do. "Stephen King would dine on this novel like five star cuisine" is a way to go because it's illustrative and genre-suggestive.

That's actually a very good suggestion. :D

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2017, 04:53:16 PM »
There used to be something pretty specific in Amazon's TOS/Guidelines about who review content belongs to and I can no longer find it.  The closest I can come to is this under Infringing Content:

"Don't post content or interact with other members of the Community in a way that infringes the intellectual property or other proprietary rights of others. Only post your own content or content that you have permission to use."

I know Amazon will respond to reviewers who contact them about another reviewer plagiarizing reviews by taking down the plagiarized reviews and have banned reviewers who were doing it extensively.  So, I don't know if a reviewer saw a portion of their review being used in a blurb and reported it as plagiarism (or used without permission), what action Amazon would take.


That might give some implied answers the question about uses without permission. But what is Amazon's policy about quoted parts of Amazon customer reviews where the author had obtained the reviewer's permission?


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #30 on: November 13, 2017, 05:28:07 PM »
That might give some implied answers the question about uses without permission. But what is Amazon's policy about quoted parts of Amazon customer reviews where the author had obtained the reviewer's permission?



I wish I could point you towards something that answers the question specifically, but I can't.  I think the quote from the Guidelines implies it's okay to use customer reviews in other areas if permission has been obtained. However, even though I am married to one, I am not a lawyer ...

As I recall, the Guidelines used to have language similar to what you spoke of earlier - that reviewers granted Amazon license to use reviews as they saw fit (and would be why they can choose spotlight reviews by whatever terms they wish), but the content of the review remained the intellectual property of the person who wrote it.

At the end of the Guidelines in the help section about Customer Reviews is the following:

"Note: The best place for authors (or publishers) to communicate with their readers is in the Book description, Editorial Reviews and From the Author sections. To learn more about taking advantage of these features, visit Author Central."

I tried to follow the Author Central link, but as I am also not an author, I don't have access.  Maybe there is something more specific there? The Help Pages have become quite the maze to wind through these days.
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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #31 on: November 13, 2017, 11:08:18 PM »
Do people ask for permission to quote Kirkus reviews? The NY Times? Others? (I don't think so).

This really needs to be highlighted because too many people have strong opinions, but no real concept of what today's digital world really allows/disallows. There is a massive amount of [digital] data out there copyrighted, or not, EVERYONE uses it to a greater or lesser degree. If the Reviewer 'owns' their review, then Amazon can't just post it up there without the reviewer giving explicit permission (which as stated above is covered in their TOS). If the author then posts it elsewhere on the Amazon site, then no copyright or terms are being broken it is STILL on the Amazon site and STILL being used to inform and illuminate said product sold on Amazon. In other words, the review is being used for the purpose it was presented. There again it's Amazon's website - they own it. They permit you to post your review and allow you to delete it too. They can also remove it if they don't like it - which means the author might own the words, but have no control over how those words are used after they're published. There are no copyright symbols provided by Amazon (which should tell you something). You can all beat your chests over what you 'think' or 'believe' is acceptable, but there are many others out there who 'think' or 'believe' differently. The trick is is to work out who to listen to and who to ignore. Me, I'm just asking the question and for the record, I don't ask for permission to use anything provided in my reviews, but then nobody has come to me and said 'don't' and nobody has castigated me for using quotes or excerpts. I would LOVE my reviewers to leave their email addresses so I can contact them..... lol :P Then again, there are some 'reviewers' out there who perhaps might not want to be held legally accountable for the things they say out there on the public circuit. We all have a few of them in our world. :D




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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #32 on: November 13, 2017, 11:13:06 PM »
<snip>

Just my personal opinion as a reader, but I dislike seeing reviews in the blurb itself.  If I want reviews, I'll read the editorial section or, I don't know, the reviews themselves?

crebel beat me to this (i was a work late and couldn't post).  all i want in a blurb is the blurb.  if i have to open up extra stuff or scroll through filler to get to the meat of the blurb, i'm going to click on another page.

so my basic question to the OP is this. what do you see as the point of adding stuff to your blurb?

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #33 on: November 14, 2017, 05:44:47 AM »
If the Reviewer 'owns' their review, then Amazon can't just post it up there without the reviewer giving explicit permission (which as stated above is covered in their TOS). If the author then posts it elsewhere on the Amazon site, then no copyright or terms are being broken it is STILL on the Amazon site and STILL being used to inform and illuminate said product sold on Amazon.

This is also true. I think we've been talking about copyrights in this thread with a layman's understanding of copyrights, and it can lead to a lot of misunderstanding beyond the subject matter discussed here. Without addressing the opinions of use, actual copyright claims can only be valid when:

(1) the text is copyrightable (i.e. you can't claim copyright to "Great read!"
(2) the text is published by someone without license or right to publish. I'm not sure if an argument will hold if the claimant says the license applies to a text published on one part of the same webpage on the same website but not another part of the same webpage on the same website, unless there is a specific contract clause to this point.

Are we the publisher of our blurbs, editorial reviews, and author bio? Or is Amazon?

We're publishers of our books because KDP specifically agreed to that. The content on the book page? Probably Amazon.

crebel beat me to this (i was a work late and couldn't post).  all i want in a blurb is the blurb.  if i have to open up extra stuff or scroll through filler to get to the meat of the blurb, i'm going to click on another page.

so my basic question to the OP is this. what do you see as the point of adding stuff to your blurb?


First, I wasn't asking if "I" can put reviews in my blurbs. I'm asking a general question about something which I've seen done on Amazon quite regularly, in fact.

Secondly, I think it's not a good way to devise any strategy based solely on what some individuals said they like or don't like. I don't think it's a reliable strategy to do something or not do something because some people responding to a thread said they don't like something. That's not even data. I can't even understand why you would ask me what's the point of doing something simply because you don't like it, or because you and several others don't like it. Is that how you formulate your strategies?

Now to answer your question, I'm thinking about this because I'm viewing Mark Dawson's Ads for Authors course and one of the advice by him and his guest lecturers on how to write ad copies is to use snippets of your reviews, or strong positive descriptions in your reviews. Granted, he wasn't talking about blurbs, but the essence is the same. I'm curious what the conversion rate would be. If you want an ad (in this case the blurbs) to convert, the way to go is to test things. Not rely on what someone somewhere said if they like it or not like it. People say they don't like a lot of things when asked specifically, but data often shows they do exactly what they say they don't like. This is especially true in the case of advertising.

Look at trad pub books. Many, including Stephen King's or other big time authors. In the beginning of the book, the publisher puts pages and pages of review snippets before you even get to the first chapter. I'm sure most of us don't read through all those snippets. But they've got to be there for some reason. They've got all the expensive market research at hand, and arguably the big name authors don't need these given who they are. And still this is done. It has to be because someone in the sales and marketing department ran some tests and split tests and found conversion rates to be higher when done one way over another.




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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #34 on: November 14, 2017, 06:08:57 AM »
There is a different opinion for every reader out there. We're hearing from three or four when there are millions of others. I would not formulate my marketing strategy based on such small numbers. If everyone does it one way, and you choose to try it another way - and it works, then do it and keep quiet. Let the rest lumber along following the industry self-imposed strictures while you 'earn' the difference. (Which is my mantra on other threads here and elsewhere).

So far, I've not heard any sound basis for anyone's opinion, whether it's legal or courtesy to do it, or not. Most reviewers never look at the book they reviewed again, and if they did and saw they had been quoted, they have the opportunity to object if they want to. My view here is that it is yet another personal marketing choice and those on here who frown on the practice have no right to do so because it is a private matter between the reviewer and the author and Amazon.

Personally, I can't see the point of anyone being the least bothered about it.


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #35 on: November 14, 2017, 06:15:51 AM »
I've used review snippets (usually just a line or a few words) in ad graphics I make for posting on FB and Twitter. I use them in the book trailers I make too, which are posted on my website, FB, Twitter, and YouTube. I credit the reviewer by name and state whether the review was on Amazon or Goodreads. I've never had an issue or complaint. I don't ask permission, but these are people who support my books, some of whom I engage with regularly via FB, Twitter, or email (though I didn't know them prior to them finding my books).

I have not used review snippets in my book descriptions on Amazon, but I've seen many others do this. For that, I would contact the reviewer (since I have access to them per above) to ask for permission. The book description, while it can be changed, feels like more of a permanent posting/representation. So, getting permission may be the way I go if/when I do that. [I need to rewrite my book descriptions anyway.]
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 06:19:17 AM by Hal Archer »

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #36 on: November 14, 2017, 06:56:05 AM »
When ONE reader/reviewer gives a negative review, the pitchforks, tar and feathers come out.  When one or more readers offer opinions in Writers' Cafe threads, they are merely anecdotal and have no weight among the millions of readers out there. *shrug*  I believe I still have the right to frown on practices I disagree with and to express that disagreement when a question is asked.

I have no standing to say using the words of a specific reviewer without permission in an Amazon blurb or another site from where it was originally posted for advertising purposes is legal or not.  I have always been under the impression it is not legal, but again, I am not a lawyer.

I will continue to maintain that I don't like and don't see the point of using review snippets in a blurb. I don't think it's the purpose of the blurb and seeing them there will move me on to another selection. Editorial reviews from professional reviews such as the NYT, Kirkus, etc. or reviews writers choose to add themselves belong in the Editorial Review section and I believe there is at least implied permission to use reviews given directly to authors there.

Will the average customer reviewer notice or care if you use their reviews in any way you please? Probably not.  Is it ethical without permission? In my opinion of one, no.
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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #37 on: November 14, 2017, 07:07:11 AM »
I've definitely seen people quoting Amazon/Goodreads reviews in the blurb parts of their books. As a reader, that never means much to me. The only quotes that would mean anything to me would be if someone I know and appreciate (like my favorite author) has said something good about the book.

As a reviewer, I used to have an actual book review blog, and I know of at least twice when the publisher quoted something from my (positive, obv) review in the book (in the "things people have said about it" section) or in the book page online somewhere. They never asked to do this, and the reviews weren't written from free copies I'd gotten. (Well, at least one wasn't. Don't remember about the other.) It didn't bother me at all. It seems reasonable that the author/publisher should be able to use snippets of reviews like that, as long as they quote enough to keep context.

But I think book bloggers/reviewers know and accept that this sort of thing might happen and is part of the process. Regular readers might not accept this as part of book reviewing, so some of them might take issue with it. Which is another good reason not to quote from random reader reviews. A third good reason is that people can change their review at any time, and might well do so, and then your quote may no longer be accurate. (Whereas bloggers are probably more likely to stick to what they've written once they've posted it.)

So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't know if you may quote customer reviews, but I would advise avoiding it.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #38 on: November 14, 2017, 07:19:13 AM »
  I believe I still have the right to frown on practices I disagree with and to express that disagreement when a question is asked.
#

Absolutely, as long as it is equally reciprocated and accepted that it is entirely a 'personal opinion' not an industry-wide viewpoint. Mostly, my views are frowned upon and my opinions relegated to absurd or amateurish by others on KBoards. However, the right to voice opinions that go against the majority view does need defending, your opinions are valid (for, or against). My point was that having an opinion does not give anyone the right to look down negatively on others who disagree or do things differently. No offence was intended.

For clarification. I neither agree nor disagree with the practice, but if I choose to do so, I will use a reviewers comments if I think it will help the next reader make a decision or understand more about the book I'm trying to sell. For me it's a marketing decision for selling books. Use it, don't use it - it's a choice, not an ethical dilemma.

The issue of legality is still unresolved, and will probably remain so because it is (in my opinion) too complex an issue and at the same time too petty to ever be defined in law.


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #39 on: November 14, 2017, 07:55:42 AM »
As I often find myself saying, authors need to stop thinking about CUSTOMER reviews the same way you think about EDITORIAL reviews. Copyright protects anything in written form, including customer reviews. The customer is the only one who can grant you the right to reproduce their comments.

No, you cannot quote a customer reviewer in any sort of commercial marketing without the customer's permission. Fair use allows you to quote them as part of a commentary (for example, if you quoted a review here in order to discuss the validity of a point the reviewer brought up.) But you cannot take another person's words and use them for commercial purposes.

Now if the review comes from someone you provided a comp copy to, that is considered fair game. The traditional relationship between publisher and reviewer is this:

Publisher sends the reviewer a copy of the book.
Reviewer is free to do what they want with that book, including give it away or trade it in to a used bookseller if they want.
Reviewer may or may not write a review.
If the reviewer DOES write the review, publisher may quote from the review so long as they do not alter the review to change the meaning and they cite the source.

That is the implicit deal between publishers and reviewers from time Infinium. If you didn't give the book to the reviewer, you have no business quoting the review in commercial marketing material without permission.

From SBA.gov
Quote
But can you lift quotes from these sites and use them in your marketing? If you check the Terms of Service of most these sites, user-generated content (i.e. reviews) are the property of the person who wrote the review. To use these reviews without permission of the reviewer may infringe copyright laws.


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #40 on: November 14, 2017, 08:11:32 AM »
Ok, unrelated to this discussion, I really feel it is an error to say everything under the sun ever written is copyrighted, or that it's excepted from copyright because it is short or extremely short. This is simply not true.

To be within the protection of copyright, the material must have some minimal originality and creativity. Length has nothing to do with it.

So in that respect, these two statements are false:

(extremely short expressions would be the one exception, to answer the "great book" discussion upthread).

Length is not the determinative factor. If can be very short but if the material is original, then it's protected. Alternatively, it can be a whole sentence or long but if it's not original and contains no creative thought unique to the writer, it is not copyrightable.

Copyright protects anything in written form, including customer reviews.

To the extent that the review text contains the reviewer's original thought, then yes. But something unoriginal with no unique attributable thought like "Great Read!" is not copyrightable. If you don't believe me, try sending a page with those words to the relevant copyright office and try to register your copyright.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #41 on: November 14, 2017, 08:19:58 AM »
Do people ask for permission to quote Kirkus reviews? The NY Times? Others? (I don't think so).
Organizations like Kirkus that produce editorial reviews have strict guidelines on what you can and cannot do. Most allow brief quotations. In other words, they give permission for an author to use small parts (without modification, as Julie said). Individual customers writing reviews don't do that. Also, most editorial review organizations require an author to purchase a license if the author wants to use bigger chunks or reproduce the whole thing. Amazon enforces a similar restriction by allowing authors to insert only brief quotes from editorial reviews.

I forget who raised the issue originally, but it seems permissible to use the quote function on these forums for purposes of these forums. That does not allow someone to quote a comment from the forums elsewhere. (When someone wanted to quote me at length in a blog, she got my permission first.)

As far as general practice is concerned, a lot of authors use review snippets in advertising. I'm sure most who do so believe it is legal and appropriate. I thought so at first myself. Now, having absorbed a lot of discussion of copyright, I think it isn't. Sure, as Alexa points out, if there are no monetary implications, someone isn't likely to sue, but something could still be technical infringement even if no one sues over it.

I'm at a point in my life at which I'm trying to minimize my stress, at least over small things I don't need to stress over. That means I wouldn't quote review snippets without permission, not because I think I'll be sued, but just because I'd rather not worry about the whole thing. There are better things to worry about.


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #42 on: November 14, 2017, 08:20:39 AM »
Fair use allows you to quote them as part of a commentary (for example, if you quoted a review here in order to discuss the validity of a point the reviewer brought up.) But you cannot take another person's words and use them for commercial purposes.


Ok this is beyond my original question which is still about Amazon policy, and I'm not saying I believe one way or another, but how do you define "for commercial purpose" in a blurb? Is it for commercial purpose or is it just informative? The blurb is not exactly an ad you paid for. It's a "book description".

I don't think the answer is clear cut here. One can certainly argue both ways with legitimate support. There are many authors who don't think of the book description or blurb as something commercial. They think they're describing the books. You can make your case that it is because this or that, but I'm pointing out that it is not a clear cut case that everyone thinks or interpret it as such.

And while I'm still speaking in terms of within the Amazon domain and real estate, if it really is an infringement issue, then how do you all feel about a lot of Bookbub ads and Facebook ads running out there right now? Are you guys seriously trying to tell all these authors that they have to stop?

And just in case someone thinks I'm asking for myself, I want to make it clear it's a general question. I have no FB ad or BB ad running at the moment, nor have I ever tried using review quotes in FB or BB ads. But I am interested in finding out the conversion rate comparing to other methods.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 08:24:29 AM by AlexaKang »

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #43 on: November 14, 2017, 08:27:19 AM »
Ok, unrelated to this discussion, I really feel it is an error to say everything under the sun ever written is copyrighted, or that it's excepted from copyright because it is short or extremely short. This is simply not true.

To be within the protection of copyright, the material must have some minimal originality and creativity. Length has nothing to do with it.

So in that respect, these two statements are false:

Length is not the determinative factor. If can be very short but if the material is original, then it's protected. Alternatively, it can be a whole sentence or long but if it's not original and contains no creative thought unique to the writer, it is not copyrightable.
It's true that there has to be some original element to be copyrightable. However, isn't it the more original reviews that people are more likely to use. How much good does putting "Great Read!" in quotes really do?

I think length gets into people's heads because one of the criteria for determining fair use is how much is borrowed, but that's only one of several considerations.

To go back to your original question, Amazon policy is often unknowable. However, it does usually seem to err on the side of caution, so in dealing with Amazon, I would too.

Those who say it is common practice are right; I see it all the time. You are probably right in saying a lawsuit is unlikely. That doesn't mean a reviewer who wrote a positive review couldn't be offended by being quoted without permission. I'd hate to irritate even one person who liked my work if I didn't have to. :) As I said above, for me it also comes down to whether I want to worry about something like that, even if it never happens.

To the extent that the review text contains the reviewer's original thought, then yes. But something unoriginal with no unique attributable thought like "Great Read!" is not copyrightable. If you don't believe me, try sending a page with those words to the relevant copyright office and try to register your copyright.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 08:36:13 AM by Bill Hiatt »


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #44 on: November 14, 2017, 08:29:05 AM »
To the extent that the review text contains the reviewer's original thought, then yes. But something unoriginal with no unique attributable thought like "Great Read!" is not copyrightable. If you don't believe me, try sending a page with those words to the relevant copyright office and try to register your copyright.

In the context of the conversation, which is quoting customer reviews, I hold my point still valid. Because I presume you are only going to quote a review that is identifiable and says something that is "sellable." Are we actually talking about quoting fifty-nine reviews that only say "Great Read!" I don't think so. I presume we are talking about quoting substantive reviews that would help sell the book.

And if we want to split hairs, even if "Great Read" is not copyrightable, that still won't allow you to use it as a review if you intend to actually cite a source, because now you are getting into potential Trademark and right of publicity laws that restrict your ability to use other people or company's names or likeness in commercial communication.

So you can't say "Julie Ann Dawson called My Book a "Great Read"" and without my permission, not because those two words are copyright, but because you are going to use my name, and thus my reputation and brand, in commercial communication.

And if you are going to just say "A quasi-sort-of-maybe-slightly-famous-kinda E-list celebrity person said my book is a great read" and not even identify the source, what the heck is the point?

A review is only as valid as the source. If you aren't citing the source, the review just as well be a made-up quote.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #45 on: November 14, 2017, 08:41:07 AM »
In the context of the conversation, which is quoting customer reviews, I hold my point still valid. Because I presume you are only going to quote a review that is identifiable and says something that is "sellable." Are we actually talking about quoting fifty-nine reviews that only say "Great Read!" I don't think so. I presume we are talking about quoting substantive reviews that would help sell the book.

Not necessarily. FB ads and BB ads have word limits. You can only put so much text on the ad. The idea is to convey immediately the genre and the feel. So there are a lot of FB ads out there where you see stuff like "A thrill ride" -- Amazon Reader. Or "Kept me on the edge of my seat," -- Amazon Reader. I see them in BB ads too but haven't paid attention to how often.

BTW, I don't think it's splitting hair. People can't go away with the impression that everything they've ever written is copyrighted. This is a very fundamental requirement for any written materials to be copyrightable. But once you got something written that meets the originality and creativity tests, then you got something to move to the next step.


Quote
And if we want to split hairs, even if "Great Read" is not copyrightable, that still won't allow you to use it as a review if you intend to actually cite a source, because now you are getting into potential Trademark and right of publicity laws that restrict your ability to use other people or company's names or likeness in commercial communication.

So you can't say "Julie Ann Dawson called My Book a "Great Read"" and without my permission, not because those two words are copyright, but because you are going to use my name, and thus my reputation and brand, in commercial communication.

And if you are going to just say "A quasi-sort-of-maybe-slightly-famous-kinda E-list celebrity person said my book is a great read" and not even identify the source, what the heck is the point?

Yes I am. See my explanation above. People do simply identify the source as "Reader", "Readers", or "Amazon Readers." I think that might be because the customer's on-screen name might look odd in an ad. I guess the point is to say readers call it a "thrill ride" in some form or fashion.

Quote
A review is only as valid as the source. If you aren't citing the source, the review just as well be a made-up quote.

That's one opinion for sure. But as it's been pointed out above, no, I think often people don't care about the source unless it's someone famous. In those cases, the seller's point is just to convey some message or impression in a form different from a book description.

Yeah, it can be a made-up quote, I suppose. As long as it works and converts.




« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 08:46:00 AM by AlexaKang »

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #46 on: November 14, 2017, 08:45:52 AM »
Ok this is beyond my original question which is still about Amazon policy, and I'm not saying I believe one way or another, but how do you define "for commercial purpose" in a blurb? Is it for commercial purpose or is it just informative? The blurb is not exactly an ad you paid for. It's a "book description".

Commercial use is generally considered ANY content that is part of the process of selling an item. A blurb is just as much a commercial use as a book cover. Commercial use extends beyond paid advertising to ANY type of media that's purpose is to sell the product. So the metadata you enter into IngramSpark or D2D or Smashwords or KDP when you set up your book is commercial use. The copy you put on the back cover is commercial use. The copy on your website is commercial use. Paid advertising is only one form of commercial content. Anything related to the production, promotion, and sale of your product is commercial communication.

Quote
And while I'm still speaking in terms of within the Amazon domain and real estate, if it really is an infringement issue, then how do you all feel about a lot of Bookbub ads and Facebook ads running out there right now? Are you guys seriously trying to tell all these authors that they have to stop?

They will have to stop the day some reader sees their name and review being plastered somewhere without their permission. Like a lot of copyright issues, it doesn't BECOME an issue until someone gets caught. People "get away" with quoting song lyrics all the time...until the day they get caught. People "get away" with using "free" art they find online...until the day they get caught. The fact that people are getting away with it does not make it legal. It simply means the individuals have not gotten caught.

And the larger issue is, why would you want to risk the potential negative backlash when you can just ask permission and generate goodwill? I can't understand why one would NOT ask permission first. There is absolutely no benefit to not asking and a hundred potential negative things that can happen if you don't.

As I've said in the past, my day job is contract packaging. So this isn't just an academic argument for me. Terms like "commercial use" have very specific meanings in the marketing industry that aren't up for debate. Anything that appears on the product, or the product description, or in media related to the product, is considered commercial use and is covered by all of laws regarding said commercial use.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #47 on: November 14, 2017, 08:49:45 AM »

And the larger issue is, why would you want to risk the potential negative backlash when you can just ask permission and generate goodwill? I can't understand why one would NOT ask permission first. There is absolutely no benefit to not asking and a hundred potential negative things that can happen if you don't.


Well because like Tobias pointed out above, there's no way to contact the Amazon reviewer unless the reviewer is a blogger.

And honestly, just my opinion for whatever it's worth, I wouldn't suggest searching for a private person's contact info. I find it VERY creepy.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #48 on: November 14, 2017, 09:30:24 AM »
Well because like Tobias pointed out above, there's no way to contact the Amazon reviewer unless the reviewer is a blogger.

And honestly, just my opinion for whatever it's worth, I wouldn't suggest searching for a private person's contact info. I find it VERY creepy.

Lots of Amazon reviewers removed contact information from their profiles because they were inundated by requests from product distributors and self-published authors. Lots of Amazon reviewers still have contact information available. 

If the review you are interested in using for commercial purposes is not by a reviewer that has contact information available, I would say the choices are:

1.  Decide whether using all or part of the review is valuable enough to you and your marketing efforts to leave a comment on the review asking the reviewer to contact you at whatever address you make public already. 

2.  If there is no response to the above and you have no other contact information available, you have your answer.  Don't use the customer's words for your commercial purposes.

I don't think it's as grey an area as some would like it to be.  I appreciate Bards and Sages (Julie) providing at least one authoritative source.
A book, I think, is very like a little golden door.
That takes me into places where I've never been before.
It leads me into fairyland or countries strange and far.
And, best of all, the golden door always stands ajar. - Adelaide Love

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #49 on: November 14, 2017, 09:43:35 AM »
And honestly, just my opinion for whatever it's worth, I wouldn't suggest searching for a private person's contact info. I find it VERY creepy.

This ^^^  plus without going into Julie's post in detail I would suggest that there is a distinction between quoting a reviewer such as "Fred Bloggs says....." and copying the content of a review in part, or in full without using the source (which as already stated, unless it's a national celebrity, is valueless) then we are left with the content of the SMA.org link which suggest the user 'may' breach copyright law.... 'MAY' and she doesn't clarify circumstances. Then, there is the issue of using quotes with sources - very clear there that you need permission. No problem. Then there is the issue of quoting in context - no problem so long as the quote applied refers to the product or service and is honestly represented. And so on, bearing in mind that this is also an ARTICLE, not a factual representation of the law, then we get the idea it is a lawyer's view couched in lawyer-speak where 'MAY' isn't 'WILL' or 'DOES' - your own lawyer could probably defend you against it if it EVER managed to reach a court (which is highly doubtful).

If you feel you cannot in all conscience use a review without the written authority from a reviewer, then don't do it.


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #50 on: November 14, 2017, 09:56:01 AM »
As I often find myself saying, authors need to stop thinking about CUSTOMER reviews the same way you think about EDITORIAL reviews. Copyright protects anything in written form, including customer reviews. The customer is the only one who can grant you the right to reproduce their comments.

No, you cannot quote a customer reviewer in any sort of commercial marketing without the customer's permission. Fair use allows you to quote them as part of a commentary (for example, if you quoted a review here in order to discuss the validity of a point the reviewer brought up.) But you cannot take another person's words and use them for commercial purposes.

Now if the review comes from someone you provided a comp copy to, that is considered fair game. The traditional relationship between publisher and reviewer is this:

Publisher sends the reviewer a copy of the book.
Reviewer is free to do what they want with that book, including give it away or trade it in to a used bookseller if they want.
Reviewer may or may not write a review.
If the reviewer DOES write the review, publisher may quote from the review so long as they do not alter the review to change the meaning and they cite the source.

That is the implicit deal between publishers and reviewers from time Infinium. If you didn't give the book to the reviewer, you have no business quoting the review in commercial marketing material without permission.

From SBA.gov

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Offline Mark Gardner

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #51 on: November 14, 2017, 10:04:30 AM »
When James Rollins endorsed War of the Worlds: Retaliation, I had explicit permission to use his endorsement on the book, and in marketing. When Severed Press acquired the distribution rights to Retaliation, they advised me that they would not be using Rollins' endorsement on their distributive content because the agreement between me and Rollins' may or may not transfer to them. As a result, the rights that I retained still use the endorsement, but Severed Press does not.

When Harry Turtledove endorses (he agreed, yay!) War of the Worlds: Firestorm, I plan on implementing the same division of the endorsement, since the rights distribution is the same for Firestorm as it is for Retaliation.

On the other hand, I'm pursuing Judy Jance (fingers crossed) to endorse my murder mystery, Score of Silence, and I plan on making sure I have permission for both the rights that I retain, and the rights that the publisher enforces.

The thing is that with Kirkus, and other endorsements and/or reviews originated in agreements is that you have explicit permission to use the content (the review or endorsement) in a way that's usually defined in a contract or terms of use. Now, these are usually solicited by the author or publisher, and per Amazon TOS should only be used in the "editorial review" section of your product page. With random reviewers, you can of course solicit permission, but why would a random review even be valuable enough to use as an editorial review? In order for a review to hold any weight, it must be by someone famous or trustworthy. Judy Jance, Harry Turtledove, and James Rollins are all famous authors, so their opinion on another book has merit, and thus value. The same as NYT and USAT have validity, and of course their content, as a magazine, falls under yet another set of rules and regulations.

So, to summarize: No, you cannot use Amazon reviews as editorial reviews unless you have explicit permission.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #52 on: November 14, 2017, 01:13:24 PM »
Well because like Tobias pointed out above, there's no way to contact the Amazon reviewer unless the reviewer is a blogger.

Let's pretend for a moment you found the PERFECT piece of art for your next book on Deviantart. The artist does not have contact information, just a username. Would it be okay to use that art for your cover anyway simply because you couldn't get the author's contact info?

Or let's pretend for a moment you see a photo of a person on Facebook, maybe in a comment from a friend or in a group that you belong to, that absolutely is perfect for your main character. But you don't know who the person is or how to contact that person. Or you do message them and they don't respond. Is it okay to simply use that person's photo in promotional material representing your character anyway?

Does your answer change if you are the artist or random stranger on the other side who one day sees your art/image being used by a publisher to promote a book?

The fact that something is inconvenient for us not a reason to do what we want. Granted, people WILL do what they want. I don't expect anyone to do what I say. I have no power or authority over anyone here. But lets at least be honest and admit that we are doing it despite the fact that the person who wrote the review may not want their words used that way, AND WE DON'T CARE WHAT THEY WANT. Legalities aside, is it good karma to take someone else's words and use them for your own personal gain without at least making an attempt to get permission?

Despite my sithy nature, in business, I always try to stay on the side of the angels. Maybe that's why I'm not filthy rich, but I sleep well at night. And that means something to me. For me, it is less about legalities and more about having a strong sense of decency and fair play when it comes to respecting the rights of other people. I don't take or use things that don't belong to me.

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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #53 on: November 14, 2017, 01:53:13 PM »
Let's pretend for a moment you found the PERFECT piece of art for your next book on Deviantart. The artist does not have contact information, just a username. Would it be okay to use that art for your cover anyway simply because you couldn't get the author's contact info?

Or let's pretend for a moment you see a photo of a person on Facebook, maybe in a comment from a friend or in a group that you belong to, that absolutely is perfect for your main character. But you don't know who the person is or how to contact that person. Or you do message them and they don't respond. Is it okay to simply use that person's photo in promotional material representing your character anyway?

Does your answer change if you are the artist or random stranger on the other side who one day sees your art/image being used by a publisher to promote a book?

The fact that something is inconvenient for us not a reason to do what we want. Granted, people WILL do what they want. I don't expect anyone to do what I say. I have no power or authority over anyone here. But lets at least be honest and admit that we are doing it despite the fact that the person who wrote the review may not want their words used that way, AND WE DON'T CARE WHAT THEY WANT. Legalities aside, is it good karma to take someone else's words and use them for your own personal gain without at least making an attempt to get permission?

Despite my sithy nature, in business, I always try to stay on the side of the angels. Maybe that's why I'm not filthy rich, but I sleep well at night. And that means something to me. For me, it is less about legalities and more about having a strong sense of decency and fair play when it comes to respecting the rights of other people. I don't take or use things that don't belong to me.

I cant say I see everything the way you see it here. To begin, a photo and a painting is clearly within the protection of copyright protection, whereas there are instances where a snippet might not. It has to first be copyrightable. When it is not copyrightable, it doesnt belong to anyone.

Youre assuming that authors who quote reviews are doing something unethical and getting away with something. Just this week I saw a Bookbub ad were the snippet was: Wow! Just Wow! With no attribution. Any way I look at it, there is no ethical or legal issue there. If an author lifted the word riveting! from a review, or In the tradition of XYZ, it cant be compared to using some artists work on DeviantArt. The blanket assumption that all written words are copyrighted and then assuming that its per se unethical or illegal is not something I feel comfortable with either and I wont judge other authors that way.

Could there be quotes that would rise to ethical and legal infringement, I would agree there are. But the way I see it, you got to look at what the quote is. Someone asserting ownership has to have a right to assert ownership to begin with. No ownership attached to quoted words that have no originality unique to the person who wrote it.

You took my quote out of context. I was answering your question why people dont ask. It was a factual statement, not an opinion. I wasnt making an assertion whether people should or should not.

And personally speaking, since you asked if my answer would change if some stranger uses my art, then my own answer is no. I personally would only care to pursue copyright when its something I had spent a lot of time creating and which I took precaution to protect and assert my right, or if I have an expectation of captializing monetary value from it. So yes, I would care about an art I created, stranger or not. OTOH, If I post a review of a product or anything I said on the public forum, I already expect it could be shared, used, copied, tweeted, or whatever in some way. So no, I wouldnt care if it is indeed shared, used, copied, tweeted, or whatever. If I cared, I would not have posted it. Of course, this is just me. If someone feels differently, their feelings are equally valid.

ETA: Figured I better clarify myself before I get crucified. Im not saying anyone should apply my views to their usage or non-usage of review quotes. Just because I dont care doesnt mean other people wont. So you should proceed with caution. But Im on record to say that I dont really care about copyrights of my internet posts on random forums or product reviews anywhere.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 02:02:47 PM by AlexaKang »

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #54 on: November 14, 2017, 10:18:32 PM »
Most people would be flattered that their views on anything were deemed good enough to be quoted. Sure, there's always a minority who seem to think they own every footprint they make through life, but on the whole people 'want' to share their opinions, views and thoughts. It is after all (I'm told repeatedly) the ethos of this forum. So it is with the reviewers on Amazon. People post their views with the intention of 'sharing' them. If an author picks their opinion and favours them with a quote they are not going (in 99.99% of cases) to be upset that their personal views are shared wider (in context).

You can argue that copyright is copyright is copyright, but then everything we say 'could' be construed that way, but you would be wrong. Copyright lawyers will tell you different because they make their living out of it. Copyright laws are vague and couched in innocuous terms and it needs a lawsuit at considerable cost to the plaintiff as well as the onus of proof that the usage contravened copyright law to make that case.

We are (I hope) reasonable, rational people who can discern the difference between what should be copyright protected, and what shouldn't. The comments (review) box on a website does not constitute something that can be copyrighted. If you say something (good or bad) be prepared to be quoted. The world is full of misquotes (especially newspapers) - I see no outraged law suits flying around [for outraged reviewers].
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 10:58:16 PM by TobiasRoote »


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #55 on: November 15, 2017, 06:18:25 AM »
The world is full of misquotes (especially newspapers) - I see no outraged law suits flying around [for outraged reviewers].

Newspapers have a specific protection under fair use. Fair use EXPLICITLY protects journalism, criticism, commentary, education, and parody. These are explicit exceptions to copyright law recognized internationally.

And, for the thousandth time, there is a fundamental difference between the fair use safe harbors noted above and COMMERCIAL, FOR-PROFIT use. The courts have always looked harder at commercial use than non-profit, education.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #56 on: November 15, 2017, 06:23:13 AM »
Most people would be flattered that their views on anything were deemed good enough to be quoted.

CONSENT MATTERS. Ask permission. Just because you think people are being unreasonable or "in a minority" doesn't mean you can ignore the concept of consent.

Yes, I take a rather strict stance on this, but that is because people are very, very good at justifying things based on what they want. But consent matters. Legalities aside, consent matters. Ask before using something that doesn't belong to you. Ask before taking someone else's words and using it as an endorsement of your book. ASK ASK ASK. It is not a hard concept, yet people argue over it because it is "too hard" to be bothered to find the person.

Seriously, if you value a quote enough that you think it will sell books, show at least the same value to the human being who wrote it and ASK.

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #57 on: November 15, 2017, 06:53:58 AM »
Yes, yes we DO understand the desire to ask. I think Amazon should put contact details for all reviewers so we CAN see who the reviewers really are (which in itself would be enlightening), but asking 'a verified Amazon Reviewer' to use a snippet of a review is totally unrealistic and frankly ridiculous. IF you happen to know, or can contact a reviewer - Yes, do ask them. If they are a public figure (would they be reading (and reviewing your book on Amazon?)) or would they do so on their own twitter or FB account. You're really not comparing apples with apples, some are pears, and some are just pips.

This really is a highbrow argument over a very lowbrow issue. I really can't see what all the fuss is about. Use the reviews if you want, if you want to ask, ASK! if you can't and don't want to risk upsetting someone then that's a personal choice, but don't make this into some big deal that needs lawyers and fifty pages of legal precedent just because you don't agree with it, or frown on the practice. Let other people breathe and do their 'thing' without telling them they HAVE to get permission, or what??? they will get a slapped wrist from a lawyer? REALLY?


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #58 on: November 15, 2017, 07:05:13 AM »
You're assuming that authors who quote reviews are doing something unethical and getting away with something. Just this week I saw a Bookbub ad were the snippet was: "Wow! Just Wow!" With no attribution. Any way I look at it, there is no ethical or legal issue there. If an author lifted the word "riveting!" from a review, or "In the tradition of XYZ", it can't be compared to using some artist's work on DeviantArt.

You need to step back from copyright law per se (which you misunderstand) and think again about review quoting in the publishing industry, which Julie has already explained. Review quoting is free advertising for the review outlet. That is why The Guardian writes an ARC positive review to get free advertising on a book cover and then has a second reviewer give a critical review post publication. So they get the free publicity and keep their critical integrity once it transpires that other reviewers are panning the book. The customer reviewer you pick on does not benefit from the economic mutual back-scratching that goes on between trade publishing and the quality press.

Customer reviews are covered under the Amazon user contract in which Amazon is granted an irrevocable license to use the content around the world. To everyone but the review writer that content is considered copyright to Amazon or its content providers (reviews are content). Any author using Amazon customer reviews for commercial purposes is expressing that they have the legal right to use that material. Not having that right could lead to the removal of an Amazon account.

As to UK copyright law: it has nothing to do with making something publicly available. The second you write it, it is copyrighted. This was established in law when private letters of Diana Princess of Wales were deemed after her death to be her copyright as administered by her estate. As stated early in the thread: if only one "Great Read" appears in the review then that is provable copyright (especially under UK law).  To return to Diana, "I love you" is not original and creative wordsmithery, but it is copyrighted where it appears in her letters. If only one review has Great Read that means that your blurb is identifying that review and that person with your blurb. That is in breach of UK copyright law whether you use it for commercial purposes or not.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 07:10:23 AM by Mercia McMahon »


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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #59 on: November 15, 2017, 08:28:51 AM »
You need to step back from copyright law per se (which you misunderstand) and think again about review quoting in the publishing industry, which Julie has already explained. Review quoting is free advertising for the review outlet. That is why The Guardian writes an ARC positive review to get free advertising on a book cover and then has a second reviewer give a critical review post publication. So they get the free publicity and keep their critical integrity once it transpires that other reviewers are panning the book. The customer reviewer you pick on does not benefit from the economic mutual back-scratching that goes on between trade publishing and the quality press.

Customer reviews are covered under the Amazon user contract in which Amazon is granted an irrevocable license to use the content around the world. To everyone but the review writer that content is considered copyright to Amazon or its content providers (reviews are content). Any author using Amazon customer reviews for commercial purposes is expressing that they have the legal right to use that material. Not having that right could lead to the removal of an Amazon account.

As to UK copyright law: it has nothing to do with making something publicly available. The second you write it, it is copyrighted. This was established in law when private letters of Diana Princess of Wales were deemed after her death to be her copyright as administered by her estate. As stated early in the thread: if only one "Great Read" appears in the review then that is provable copyright (especially under UK law).  To return to Diana, "I love you" is not original and creative wordsmithery, but it is copyrighted where it appears in her letters. If only one review has Great Read that means that your blurb is identifying that review and that person with your blurb. That is in breach of UK copyright law whether you use it for commercial purposes or not.

I still disagree because the analysis doesn't end there. I don't know about U.K. Law but I would think someone asserting copyright under U.K. Law then over two words like "Great read" would have the burden of proof that no one else anywhere had ever said it anywhere, not just on Amazon. How would one prove that? Your explanation makes the assumption that the quoted words originated from a specific place but that might not be the scenario. As I said before, each instance needs to be looked at on its own merit. Where it goes wrong is when we indict people with a broad stroke when copyright laws were never meant to be used that way.

As far as US law is concerned it clearly says the material has to be original and bears creativity. Without this no one will ever be able to write any ordinary word ever again.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #60 on: November 15, 2017, 08:53:56 AM »
While we are talking about U.K. Usage, the DailyMail's comment section for all of their articles have social share buttons for each and every comment for anyone to share to every form of popular social media. So you Brits can sort that one out.


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #61 on: November 15, 2017, 09:16:19 AM »
I still disagree because the analysis doesn't end there. I don't know about U.K. Law but I would think someone asserting copyright under U.K. Law then over two words like "Great read" would have the burden of proof that no one else anywhere had ever said it anywhere, not just on Amazon. How would one prove that? Your explanation makes the assumption that the quoted words originated from a specific place but that might not be the scenario. As I said before, each instance needs to be looked at on its own merit. Where it goes wrong is when we indict people with a broad stroke when copyright laws were never meant to be used that way.

You are confusing two aspects of copyright law. There is the copyright that prevents anyone from using that set of words and there is the use of material attached to the person for purposes for which no permission has been sought. Other jurisdictions might separate the second under a privacy provision, but in UK law it is an aspect of copyright law. So long as "Great read" remains identifiable to one individual, you are linking that person to your profit making enterprise without their (or Amazon's) permission.


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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #62 on: November 15, 2017, 11:04:14 AM »
You are confusing two aspects of copyright law. There is the copyright that prevents anyone from using that set of words and there is the use of material attached to the person for purposes for which no permission has been sought. Other jurisdictions might separate the second under a privacy provision, but in UK law it is an aspect of copyright law. So long as "Great read" remains identifiable to one individual, you are linking that person to your profit making enterprise without their (or Amazon's) permission.

I don't claim to be an expert or even knowledgeable about UK law. Maybe you are. In that case I'll defer to you on UK law. But if UK law is as you said, then what is one to make of the DailyMail providing a button for viral share of readers' comments? I can't imagine the DailyMail, whatever one might think of the quality of its content, would leave itself widely open to copyright lawsuit.

This debate can go on and on and get nowhere so I'm afraid we'll all just have to agree to disagree. I'm not wrong in my interpretation of US copyright law. I'm going to say my last piece on this and you all can carry on without me if you wish.

Fundamentally, I disagree with the opinion that it is all black and white and nothing in between. Whether it's the law or ethics, that view is such a strict reading that it fails to take into consideration of anything else for no reason than someone holding that this view believes this view is absolutely right. From what I know about law, the law is never intended to work that way. In regards to ethics, society has changed and how media is used today has changed, and ethics follow. That's why the answer is not so strict and simple. And I'll have to say Tobias made some very good points about that.

To begin with the law, the law exists to protect people, or a class of people. In talking about usage of snippets of reviews or internet posts, who is being protected here? Who is being harmed? What public interest does it serve, and what is the law of economics involved? Copyright law exists primarily to protect monetary interests of the content creator, and also creator's claim to originality of his or her thoughts. The argument I'm hearing is "Oh no! You shouldn't benefit from it," but is there a harm? It certainly feels like there is, because historically we have always been in a society where we respect ownership of published work.

But when I look around at the current reality, I see society moving fast beyond that strict purist view. In the new reality, with viral media, "published" takes on a very different meaning. Social media and technology have so fundamentally changed how people share content, there is new norm where the community understanding of what can be shared is much different from the obscure, purist view expressed here. I'd agree with most of what Tobias said before. 99% of the people posting on the web probably don't have the slightest clue that their posts are technically copyrighted, and so their conduct continue to evolve accordingly. Many authors are part of those people. When the whole society is adapting to a new norm where social sharing is so rampant and easy, how can I be so sure that an author taking a snippet of a publicly posted review is "unethical" or "trying to get away with something"? Most of them simply don't know.

I know the next counter-argument is, not knowing doesn't make it right. But what is "right"? Is it wrong solely because a very obscure minority happen to be aware of the technicality of copyright law? Would people who post their opinions on today's widely shared or public media believe it is wrong? I don't think they would. I think 99% of them won't care. And like Tobias said, people post publicly precisely because they want to be heard. Do they think it's wrong that their content is being republished? Looking at all the shares and retweets, what I'm seeing is that as a wider society, people who join the published forum in the new media actively want their content to the shared. As purists, we can scream till our faces turn blue, but this is the new norm. So would our purist view be more ethical than the behavior conducted by 99% of the population?

And TBH, the new media's erosion of some of the rights we've always held important saddens me. But I realized I have to come to terms with it because people simply don't care.

At least in the US, when courts consider the issue of public interest, they do not ordinarily stay fixed on a purist view without considering the wider behavior of society. Because if they do, they'd be trying to impose a law that is unenforceable, and they will fail. Also, this purist view can potentially lead to innumerable frivolous lawsuits (frivolous not meaning the substance is frivolous, but that the dollar amount of damages at issue is frivolous), which the US courts hate.

So the next problem is, what about the 1% who legitimately believe their right is violated? I would make the argument that the law should except general materials on public internet forums and social media content from copyright laws, provided that the content creator who wishes to assert such right must clearly state that on the post itself. This would make much more sense because people should be able to assert their right, but it would be such an obscure minority who would even know about the right, and to consider it valuable enough (whether monetary or otherwise) to bother to assert it. It makes much more practical sense and would be much more economically efficient to place the burden on the poster to assert the right, instead of trying to change mass social behavior, which is doomed to fail. And it would be easy enough for any social media to add an copyright icon enabling people to assert their right, or not. That would be what I would propose to the authorities if they care to ask for my opinion (and which I'm sure they don't care.)

Those of you who feel very strongly otherwise can try to wage a public education campaign to see if the mass public agrees with your ethic line. I could be wrong, but I don't think enough people will care because today's new reality this is an obscure issue and like Tobias said, people want to be heard. We're in the age of selfies.

Does that mean anyone selling anything can use any customer reviews to advocate their products? No. There are still other laws and regulations governing truth in advertising. You can't claim your miracle pill can help people lose weight because customer X said so.

For the record, my view does not apply to blogs. Bloggers own their forums and their content is theirs.

Where does that leave authors using review quotes? I don't know. We're in a changing world. For me, there is no clear line on the ethical front at this point.

OTOH, I do now have a clear answer from Amazon, which was my original question (no thanks to anyone here who'd rather discuss their opinions on copyrights than my original question about Amazon policy, although crebel, I do appreciate you for trying to help and find the answer.) No, you're not supposed to use reviews in your product descriptions. This is not found in KDP policy but on the Amazon Seller policy.

Amazon says:

Quote
When you create a product detail page, you agree to the following rules and restrictions:

The inclusion of any of the following information in detail page titles, descriptions, bullet points, or images is prohibited:
Pornographic, obscene, or offensive content.
Phone numbers, physical mail addresses, email addresses, or website URLs.
Availability, price, condition, alternative ordering information (such as links to other websites for placing orders), or alternative shipping offers (such as free shipping).
Spoilers regarding Books, Music, Video, or DVD (BMVD) listings (information that reveals plot elements crucial to the suspense, mystery, or surprise ending of a story).
Reviews, quotes, or testimonials.
Solicitations for positive customer reviews.
Advertisements, promotional material, or watermarks on images, photos, or videos.
Time-sensitive information (i.e., dates of promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).

Given that people are peddling all sorts of stuff on Amazon, this doesn't surprise me as otherwise, there could be a lot of problems of misrepresentations and frauds that would run afoul of advertising laws.


« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 11:35:12 AM by AlexaKang »

Offline RTW

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #63 on: November 15, 2017, 12:03:07 PM »
Not having anything to do with a blurb, but I just saw on the top-right of an author's website a 3-word quote attributed to "Amazon reviewer." I was looking at the site because it was mentioned in another thread here. Kind of cracked me up.

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #64 on: November 15, 2017, 12:26:26 PM »

Amazon says:

When you create a product detail page, you agree to the following rules and restrictions:

The inclusion of any of the following information in detail page titles, descriptions, bullet points, or images is prohibited:
Pornographic, obscene, or offensive content.
Phone numbers, physical mail addresses, email addresses, or website URLs.
Availability, price, condition, alternative ordering information (such as links to other websites for placing orders), or alternative shipping offers (such as free shipping).
Spoilers regarding Books, Music, Video, or DVD (BMVD) listings (information that reveals plot elements crucial to the suspense, mystery, or surprise ending of a story).
Reviews, quotes, or testimonials.
Solicitations for positive customer reviews.
Advertisements, promotional material, or watermarks on images, photos, or videos.
Time-sensitive information (i.e., dates of promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).


Yet Amazon explicitly provide a section for editorial reviews which can come from anywhere.

Quote
Add review

Guidelines
Reviews should consist of transcribed text from reputable sources. The name of the source should be credited after the quotation. For example, “A fantastic read.” -The New York Times
Quotes from outside reviews should follow "fair use" copyright guidelines and be limited to 1-2 sentences.
We recommend you limit your entire reviews to 3000 characters (up to 600 characters per review). Customers may miss critical information if your reviews are too long.
Once you enter your first review, space for additional reviews will show up. You may add up to total five reviews.


and also here

Quote
What about Customer Reviews?

Customer Reviews are written by customers about your book. They can be found near the bottom of a product detail page. Please note that these reviews are not controlled by Author Central. Find out more about who can write Customer Reviews and how the reviews are displayed.

None of this information is difficult to find on Amazon and NOWHERE does it say that you cannot use customer reviews within those guidelines.

So, breathe everyone, just - breathe! - Nobody is going to come after you if you use a review in your blurb

+ENDOF

ps, a full detail explanation of reviews is here. https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_v4_sib?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201967050
« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 12:33:04 PM by TobiasRoote »


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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #65 on: November 15, 2017, 01:11:41 PM »
While we are talking about U.K. Usage, the DailyMail's comment section for all of their articles have social share buttons for each and every comment for anyone to share to every form of popular social media. So you Brits can sort that one out.

We're not talking about the Daily Mail, we're talking about Amazon, which, last I looked, did not have a share button for social media.
     

Offline notjohn

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #66 on: Today at 09:06:19 AM »
I frequently use aspects of peoples reviews in my blurb. (Often they can say something better than I can and at least it's honest). BUT! Who owns the reviews? Do we know? What are the repub rights of reviews on an author's books. Does it lie with Amazon, the Author, the Reviewer, or nobody as it's a public posting. Interesting to know the LEGAL aspect. Has anyone ever actually been forced to remove their 'review' from their blurb?

I've done this for years, both on my websites and on the "Editorial Reviews" section made available by Author Center on Amazon. Nobody has ever objected. (We are instructed not to put reviews in the blurb or book description, but I have done that as well, and they're still there, years after they were first posted.

Treat the reviewer with respect, don't quote out of context, and don't go on at great length, and one should be okay.

There's no point asking Amazon about this, because their policy is that you cannot quote a Reader Review. I suspect the lawyers made them say that, because they certainly don't enforce it.
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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #67 on: Today at 10:04:20 AM »
I think there are several questions being discussed under the banner of a single question:

1. Is it legal to quote a customer review in a blurb or advertisement (or anywhere else in the book's description or marketing packet)? People have covered this question extensively from both sides in this thread.
2. Is it a good business decision to do so? This has been covered a little bit in terms of whether or not it could annoy people, but this question could, I think, use some further discussion.
3. Is it respectful of the reviewer to do so? This has, I think, not been covered nearly enough.

The last question, the one of respect, is the most important one to me. IMO, it's not respectful to quote a customer review without their consent. Editorial reviews (such as from a book blogger or professional review site) are written with the expectation that the publisher/author may quote from them (especially if the reviewer was given a copy for free to review). Regular customers/readers do not write reviews with this expectation, nor do they write reviews for the use of the author/publisher. A lot of people here are saying it's not disrespectful to do that, but it's very easy to say something you do to someone else is not disrespectful to them when you don't bother to ask that person what they think. And yes, some customers would be just fine with it. A lot wouldn't. Since some portion of them wouldn't be okay with it, I think it's necessary--not legally, but in terms of being a decent human being who shows respect to others--to ask that person specifically if you can use a quote from their customer review for that purpose. And if you can't get ahold of them, don't use it. That's how asking permission works. If you are unable to ask permission, you have not gotten permission.

It's no good responding to "It's not respectful to do it" or "It's not a good business decision to do it" with "It's not illegal to do it". Those are separate issues. All worth discussion, but separate issues nonetheless.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #68 on: Today at 10:33:02 AM »
And yes, some customers would be just fine with it. A lot wouldn't.

Do you have validated figures to substantiate that claim? I think not.

Regular customers/readers do not write reviews with this expectation, nor do they write reviews for the use of the author/publisher.

Have you surveyed all the readers/reviewers to reach this conclusion? I think not. Do you have ANY data to substantiate this? I think not.

As a matter of respect I think it's definitely worth considering that people on here and authors generally should be provided the respect of being able to make their own decisions as to whether it is/isn't respectable/legal/ethical. We collectively, are authors. In reality and individually, we are all kinds of people with all kinds of morals, ethics and other personal constraints. What we're not, in the main part at least, is naive, gullible or stupid. I believe it is enough to say, that readers/reviewers/authors all have an individual voice and are fully capable of using it to maintain their own values without someone else making that decision for them.
« Last Edit: Today at 10:34:42 AM by TobiasRoote »


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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #69 on: Today at 11:32:06 AM »
Tobias, you're still thinking legalistically. How many people who wouldn't approve of their reviews being used in this way would it take before you'd agree that it's necessary to ask permission? 80 percent? 50 percent? To me, if any number of people would find it disrespectful for their reviews to be used this way, it's necessary to ask. Any. Because any reviewer you choose to quote from without permission may be that one who doesn't want you to do it. You can't know who would find it disrespectful. It's never disrespectful to ask permission. So do it. I don't see why this is such a hard concept to grasp. Like Julie said, consent matters.

And I do think that the ethics of writing, publishing, and our business practices is worth discussing.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #70 on: Today at 11:43:28 AM »
And I do think that the ethics of writing, publishing, and our business practices is worth discussing.

I quite agree. There is a distinction don't you think between discussing the agin's and fore's of such a practice and telling people who do it that they are being disrespectful, lacking in ethics or breaching copyright and are therefore [according to the narrow viewpoint voiced on here] in the wrong on all levels. I have no issue at all about you having your opinions, or anyone else for that matter. What I do object to is the way in which the 'agin' brigade insist that those who do it are lacking in morality, ethics and integrity. Either by accusation or insinuation. Who are these people to say what is right and wrong - we're a loose community, very loose, and not bound by any standards anywhere that I'm aware of. So, yes we can discuss this like adults and as equals, but don't make up statistics or think you can speak for the majority of readers because that's just dishonest.
« Last Edit: Today at 12:47:49 PM by TobiasRoote »


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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #71 on: Today at 11:50:59 AM »
Saying "this action is disrespectful" (or unethical or whatever) is not an attack against those who choose to do those things. The person is not the action. It is, rather, saying, "This action is disrespectful, and here is why I believe so, so if you do it, I would like to try to talk you into not doing it."

Discussing whether or not an action/behavior is wrong or right does not constitute a condemnation or praise of any person who does that thing. Again, the person is not the action.

And even if I were calling a person disrespectful and you consider that to be a horrible insult, maybe consider why you think it's an insult and what 'respect' even means. And, once you define for us what respect means to you, perhaps explain why doing something with someone's words without asking their permission does not touch on any issue of respect. I think those of us advocating restraint in this matter have shown why we think this action is disrespectful. If you want to engage with us on the matter of whether or not it is, please address it in like manner. Simply getting offended that we've called it disrespectful and turn that claim into us disrespecting you is not conducive to any sort of discussion.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #72 on: Today at 12:31:26 PM »

You stated above with clear authority that you were speaking for 'a lot' of the readers/reviewers when you said they did not put up reviews so that the author of the book they were leaving the review for could use it. This is central to your definition of showing respect, that you speak for the majority. You lost my respect when you based your argument on that deceit.

I consider the matter of respect to be one of great import in that if I were to use a review quote, and IF I could contact the reviewer, I might ask them. If they declined I would move onto the next. However, equally I would use a review from one of MY book reviews happily even if I couldn't contact the person. In that case I would not quote the reviewer. If I used an anonymous review [most of them are] then I still wouldn't quote the reviewer, but if they could identify it as their review (unlikely in 99.999% of cases), and took the trouble to ask me to remove it I would do one of two things. 1] I would oblige immediately, or 2] with the reviewer's approval I would modify the review to take any possible identification out of it.

The issue of lack of such respect would only come into being if I identified the reviewer without their permission, or refused to take down the review on request. What you see as a rule of etiquette is actually only your opinion, not really an issue of respect, but more how YOU view the act of respect. My view is I respect all my reviewers and my readers, they are after all highly discerning, intelligent and literate people. Likewise, If I use a review respectfully, then I'm acting ethically and with integrity in giving added recognition to the effort put in by the reviewer to make their personal views of my book known.
« Last Edit: Today at 12:42:28 PM by TobiasRoote »


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