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Hi, everyone. Despite having stuck around Kboards for three years or so, I don't have a whole lot of threads to my name. I'm more of a responder than a starter, I guess. But this seemed worth putting out there.

On Saturday, someone filed a 100% fraudulent DMCA take-down notice against Nolander with Amazon and Smashwords, which promptly blocked the book. Sending in my official U.S. copyright registration materials has done nothing to resolve the situation. Both retailers' position is that I and the DMCA complainant have to send in our written permission before Nolander can be made available again.

I wrote the whole story up as a blog post, including how I discovered for sure that this is some kind of scam. It's sort of long because there was a bit of detective work involved: http://the-active-voice.com/2015/03/01/nolander-blocked-at-amazon-and-smashwords/

The TL;DR is that someone can apparently just fabricate a claim of copyright infringement and send it on in, and that's that. I'm preparing a DMCA counter-notice, but I have no idea whether or not it will have any effect. Neither Amazon or Smashwords mentioned counter-noticing as a possible remedy. It's scary. Really scary.

***

Updating March 5 with the latest. What I sent to KDP a few days ago:

Dear (Rep's Name),

Thank you for prompt response, and for your assistance with this matter. I appreciate Amazon's careful attention to copyright issues.

Please find attached a DMCA counter-notice.

The DMCA notice you received from Rajesh Lahoti was fraudulent. Shortly after Amazon blocked my book from sale, Rajesh Lahoti initiated contact with me through my website, using an alias. He offered to help me with my "DMCA problem." I believe he is using the DMCA process as part of a scam.

I hope this matter can be resolved quickly. Please let me know if you have questions or need anything else from me. For instance, I have a signed hard copy of my counter-notice, which I would be happy to mail in.

Sincerely,
(Me)
What I just got:

Hello,

I'm so sorry, but we can't offer any additional insight or action on this matter. We are unable to provide you with legal advice. For any specific questions you have about your publishing rights, we recommend you consult an attorney or copyright law professional.

Until this dispute is resolved by all parties concerned, the titles will not be made available for sale in the Kindle Store.

Best Regards,

(Rep's name)
Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.
So, there's the answer to that question: Amazon does not consider itself legally bound by the DMCA counter-noticing provision.

***

A final update (March 10), for anyone coming upon this thread in the future: Amazon did agree to restore Nolander. It took an email to Jeff Bezos ([email protected]) to reach people high enough up in the company to get personalized attention. So, it all worked out well for me.

If something like this happens to you, please bump this thread to let the Writers' Cafe know about it. Indie authors may remain vulnerable to this kind of scam. Hopefully Amazon will be adjusting its DMCA-related policies, but we'll have no way to know whether or not they've done that until the person's experience.

ETA: Links to other possible/proven copyright attacks: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,224280.0.html (added October 19, 2015); http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,226272.0.html (added November 16, 2015)
 

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That is scary!  Good luck on getting this resolved.  It seems like the retailers would be more willing to try and help out with something like this.
 

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Wow!  I read your blog post.  That is insane!!

There is nothing stopping anyone from doing this to anyone's books and then blackmailing them in order to get the books put back up.  Welcome to the new India/Nigeria scam.  Amazon will need to amend their policies because I see this as something that could get out of hand.
 

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I do not understand how retailers can just wipe their hands of this. How on earth are you to resolve it if the complainant is lying? I hope this gets resolved quickly.
 

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That's horrible! I am so sorry. What a scary situation. I hope everything works out for you. Please keep us posted.
 

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Seems like a case where you might be better off getting professional legal consulting if Amazon doesn't remedy this in a few days/week tops.

I'd consider a law-suit against this fraudulent complaint, and the person who made it, because it has and continues to cause you financial losses and personal stress. Of-course, a disturbingly large up-front investment might be required for legal services. But if the chance of winning and having the other person be forced to pay for the costs, is high enough, then I'd pursue it.

If I had the money, I'd pursue legal action on principle.

Sick people. I've done some time, reading posts in the Warrior forum and other Internet Marketing places where Black Hat methods are common and it's sickening what some people will resort to. These days, when someone with Web skills develops a grudge against you, you can lose almost everything. They can take down your websites, your services, get you banned from digital stores and retailers etc. And they can make it appear as if it's your fault and that you're crazy...

Most people do not either have the resources to fight back or they just don't have the energy/knowledge how to do so.

Stay strong and don't give up until this injustice is solved.
 

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I too read your blog post. This is terrifying! I'm so sorry you're having to go through this.
 

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I just read your whole blog post. How awful. Why would the scammer want to do this? What do they think they're going to gain?

I second the idea to talk to legal counsel.
 

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The DMCA was written by Hollywood lobbyists to provide them with a tool to block sites they don't like (putatively, sites hosting illegal movie downloads, but in practice: anything) without having to go through normal due processes like courts and trials. Note that in their DMCA complaint they swore under penalties of perjury that your work was infringing. Note also, that despite many other false DMCA takedown notices, no one has ever been prosecuted for committing perjury in a DMCA notice. Look up the provisions of the TPP (trans-pacific partnership) treaty being fast-tracked (this week) through congress: It is even worse/better (depending on your perspective).
 

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HAGrant said:
I just read your whole blog post. How awful. Why would the scammer want to do this? What do they think they're going to gain?

I second the idea to talk to legal counsel.
My guess is that they're going to hold her book hostage, so to speak. This s***weasel will offer to work things out with the "other" s***weasel ... for a fee. He/she/it is hoping Becca will pay up.

Edited to add: Good luck, Becca. I don't know if this will help, but if you keep track of your website's metrics, you should be able to correlate the time this s***weasel visited your website with the comment they initially left. That will, at least, give you an IP address (possibly not their real one, but still ... This is clearly someone not very bright; you've caught them out with one screw-up already.)
 

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That's awful. I think legal advice is the only option here. Please keep us all updated, and know that plenty of people are rooting for you.
 

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Ugh, that's terrible. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this.  Another vote for talking to a lawyer.

Good luck!
 

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Thanks for the support, everyone! Like I said, it's scary. Just knowing people are rooting for me is great. :)

SevenDays said:
I don't know if this will help, but if you keep track of your website's metrics, you should be able to correlate the time this s***weasel visited your website with the comment they initially left. That will, at least, give you an IP address (possibly not their real one, but still ... This is clearly someone not very bright; you've caught them out with one screw-up already.)
Great thought, SevenDays, thanks! He commented on my blog from two different IP addresses. I'll send them along to Amazon and Smashwords. Whether one of them will line up with the IP addresses from which he sent the DMCA notices ... dunno. Seems too much to hope for, but maybe!
 

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Rick Gualtieri said:
Ugh, that's terrible. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. Another vote for talking to a lawyer.

Good luck!
Thanks, Rick. I figure a lawyer comes next, if I can't resolve the problem with the DMCA counter-notices. I'm very fortunate in having legal insurance through my day job. I opted into it just in case of something like this.

If there's one thing this experience brings home to me, it's that indie authors are vulnerable. That's one thing you get in exchange for lower royalties in traditional publishing: a pack of IP lawyers hiding under your book's covers.
 

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Becca, if this doesn't get resolved soon, if I were you, I'd seriously consider approaching the press. Start with the NYT and work downwards. Could be a story they'd be interested in doing.

Got my fingers crossed for you! :(
 

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This is one of the scariest things I've read in a long time. I hope it gets fixed for you soon. It's unfortunate because it sounds like there's nothing you can do preemptively...
 
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This is absolutely disgusting. It could happen to any of us. Amazon need to pull their head in.
 
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