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Discussion Starter #1
About a month ago I learned that, earlier this year, someone plagiarized my eight-years-published permafree (4.5 rating, thousands of reviews) using a NYT bestselling author's name with an added initial, so that readers think they are buying a book from NYT bestselling author (that whole drill). NYT bestselling author writes clean romance, I write dark psychological suspense. The reviews for the book with the fake author and fake title state disbelief over what a dark book it is and can't believe NYT bestselling author is writing stories like this, but loved it nonetheless (so there's that, I guess). In fact, my book under this fake title and fake author has hundreds of reviews and an orange tag in whatever nonsensical category they used to avoid detection on Amazon (it is listed under neither romance or mystery). 

I was able to get the book removed from BN.com and have submitted a claim to Amazon and am waiting to hear back (I registered with the U.S. Copyright Office when I first published, so hopefully that's enough). The book has a digital footprint going back eight years and I have all kinds of other hard copy proof that I wrote the book.

Because this book is permafree and I'm not technically making money from it, through the years, it has done its job of leading readers to my backlist. I'm wondering if I would have any recourse for recovering royalties from the sales of this fraudulent work. I can't prove lost income necessarily, but this person has profited from my work. How many readers may have gone on to buy a book from my backlist? I seem to remember there was an indie author who had her work ripped off and was able to get the royalties from Amazon, with the fraudulent author being banned, but I can't remember the particulars of the situation.

I also considered sending an email to NYT bestselling author to say, "Hey FYI, someone is using a variation of your name to sell a plagiarized book that people think they are buying from you." NYT bestselling author may not care and maybe reaching out to them is just a really bad idea (please talk me out of further consideration of this idea . . . because it's a really bad idea, right?).

Any thoughts/wisdom/experience is greatly appreciated.

2020 is great, isn't it?  :'(

 

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I'd think someone who writes clean romance is a good person at heart and reaching out to them would be a good idea. I doubt they'd appreciate being used that way any more than you do. Good luck with it all.
 

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IINAL.

If you registered your copyright upon publication, you can sue for infringement and potentially be awarded significant damages and have your legal fees covered by the defendant. (While possible, you should know you're probably entering into an seemingly endless nightmare and you should think long and hard about it, consult lawyers, and maybe even other authors who've been through it.)

If you didn't, register it, your damages will be limited and you'll be out of pocket for legal expenses. It's probably better to just to the DMCA takedowns and be done with it. It can be a bitter pill to never even know who did it or how much they gained from it, but that's life.
 

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LDB said:
I'd think someone who writes clean romance is a good person at heart and reaching out to them would be a good idea.
Haha! By that logic anyone who writes horror is a real life serial killer ;-)
 

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If you got a lawyer you could attempt to get payment from the person who stole the book, but you’d probably spend more trying to get paid than getting paid.
 

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It's not Amazon's job to police your business. You can file a copyright claim with them, but they won't pursue it. It will be left up to you. You can hire a lawyer, go to court, even win. It will take time and money, and even if you win a judgement, you may not recoup any of the money you've spent. So, it's up to you how you'd handle it. Best to consult a qualified attorney and see what they think.

You won't get any royalties that may or may not have been paid to this person. Amazon doesn't work that way.

Be very sure the book was indeed plagiarized before you start. Using the same ideas, the same tropes, does not constitute copying a book. It has to be exact contents. Using a similar author name is likely unethical, but is probably not illegal. Hence the need for an attorney.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It's a word for word copy right down to the blurb.

Amazon has a specific process for reporting copyright infringement, which I utilized.
 

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It's probably not a bad idea to send a demand letter to the plagiarist and demand an accounting of their royalties.  You could seek advise from an attorney to help you consider your options, but it's not necessarily true that your only two options are to engage in years of expensive litigation or simply walk away.
 

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How is it plagiarized?

Is it copy and pasted exact text? If so, you may have a case.

If it's just a very similar story, even beat for beat similar, then you probably don't have a case. I haven't seen a case like that win, only actual copy-pasted text. It's something I'm watching pretty closely at the moment as I've had a bunch of copycatters lately, but not anything I can enforce.
 
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