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Big Al's Books & Pals 2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Young Adult Nominee

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 2265 times)  

Online Mark Gardner

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #50 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 #51 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 #52 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 »

Online TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #53 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 #54 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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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #55 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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Online TobiasRoote

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #56 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 #57 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 #58 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 #59 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 #60 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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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #61 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 »

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #62 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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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #63 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 #64 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 #65 on: November 17, 2017, 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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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #66 on: November 17, 2017, 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.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #67 on: November 17, 2017, 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: November 17, 2017, 10:34:42 AM by TobiasRoote »


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #68 on: November 17, 2017, 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.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #69 on: November 17, 2017, 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: November 17, 2017, 12:47:49 PM by TobiasRoote »


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #70 on: November 17, 2017, 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.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #71 on: November 17, 2017, 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: November 17, 2017, 12:42:28 PM by TobiasRoote »


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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #72 on: November 17, 2017, 05:45:13 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.

*sigh* Okay. Fine. Whatever. I'm done.

Thanks for explaining how respect has nothing at all to do with consent.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #73 on: November 17, 2017, 07:48:24 PM »
Thanks for explaining how respect has nothing at all to do with consent.

Just wanted to say I admire your attempt to shed light on how some of us view this issue.

Having lurked at the kboards for a number of years, I've come to the conclusion that there is a group of authors who will do whatever best serves them regardless of ethics, morals, or simple common decency. The good thing about threads like this is it gives you a heads up as to the authors who only consider their self interest and ethics/morals/TOS don't even register. That knowledge is handy when considering requests for help, advice, cross promo as (personally) I only work with or help authors with a similar approach.

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Re: Can you quote customer reviews in blurbs?
« Reply #74 on: November 17, 2017, 11:01:15 PM »
The good thing about threads like this is it gives you a heads up as to the authors who only consider their self interest and ethics/morals/TOS don't even register. That knowledge is handy when considering requests for help, advice, cross promo as (personally) I only work with or help authors with a similar approach.

Not me, I'm the kind of person who will always help out if I can, regardless of your viewpoint, opinions or belief. Have a great day. :D


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