Independent Publishing and DMCA Abuse, or “How a Scammer Got My Book Blocked with Very Little Effort”

UPDATE March 5, 2015:  I’m happy to say Amazon put Becca Mills’ book, Nolander, today!  This is a win for authors, and I’m glad Becca had the courage to share her experience so we can better know what to do if this ever happens to us.  (Hopefully, it won’t.)

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This is what was posted on March 3, 2015:

This is scary, folks. All self-published authors are vulnerable to this. The post is long, but it is a must read.

Anyone (for any reason) can decide to post a DCMA Takedown Notice on your book and get it removed from Amazon, Smashwords, etc. This author has registered her copyright with the US Copyright Office, but this has not been good enough, which is especially alarming because that should be our ultimate protection from stuff like this.

At the time I’m writing this (March 3, 2015), Smashwords has put her book back up. Amazon, however, has not. I’m going to keep track of what is happening.

This is something that should make us all sit up and take notice of what is going on. More importantly, we need to band together and support each other when stuff like this happens. I urge you to share this with other authors. The more people we tell, the better our chances are of protecting more authors (and even ourselves) from stuff like this happening.

My thoughts and prayers are with Becca during this horrible time.

The Active Voice

Okay, I’ve got a story. It’s a sort of scary one. I think independent/self-publishing authors need to know about it, and telling it carefully and correctly is also important for my own situation, so I’m going to take my time and lay it all out in order.

Pressed for time? You can skip to the bottom for the TL;DR summation.


On Friday, February 27, 2015, I noticed that my bookmarked Amazon.com link to my first novel, Nolander, was yielding, “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.” I went to my Amazon dashboard and discovered the book had been blocked.

In my spam folder, I discovered an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing arm, informing me that someone had sent in a DMCA notice. In response, Amazon had summarily blocked Nolander from sale.

“DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”…

View original post 3,853 more words

16 Comments

  1. What’s really scary is the stance Amazon is taking. Basically, they don’t want to get in the middle of it. But they ARE in the middle of it. They believed a scammer and took the book down when that person reported a copyright violation instead of contacting the author and getting their side of the story. So an honest author gets penalized, and the “evil scammer” gets their way. Shame on Amazon for not making this right. And kudos to Smashwords for doing the right thing.

    1. If there was ever an excellent case against going exclusive with Amazon, this is it. I’m so glad I went with my gut and decided to put the pen name up on all the channels.

      I agree. This is horrible. The person making the complaint should be the one to bear the burden of proof on the claim they’re making and the innocent party should be able to have their side taken into a account before any book site pulls books down. I’m glad Smashwords paid attention. That makes me feel better, but yeah, Amazon needs to step up and do a proper investigation. They have access to people’s dashboards and accounts. They can take measures to look into this.

      1. Here’s the difference. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants to do the right thing. Amazon is so big, they don’t really care about one author.

        1. That’s true. There’s benefits to having a smaller company. It also matters who is running things. Even in a big company, if you had people who cared in place, it could work. But then, you’d have to make sure you’re hiring people who care. The more people you have, the harder that is.

          I know the argument is given that Amazon should care because they’re making money off of self-published authors. (My husband was giving me this argument just today when I told him about this.) But Amazon is not only making money off authors. They’re making money in many venues. They aren’t putting their eggs in one basket. They’re spreading their net wide. It seems to me that authors would be smart to follow this example since Amazon has proved itself as a business.

          I think Mark Coker’s goals are different from Amazon’s, too, which also changes how things are done at each place. He started Smashwords to help authors find a way to get their work to the public in many venues. So it makes sense that is where his company’s focus would be.

          I’ll stop rambling now. 🙂

        2. Exactly my thoughts.

  2. storywrtr says:

    Just as I was about to go self-pub a book… I was nervous enough about this stuff. Poor Becca… Thanks for sharing this.

    1. I just found out this also happened to an author who had her book with a publisher. I’m sure in that case, the publisher fought the issue on her behalf.

      But good news, Amazon put the book back up today, so the issue has been resolved.

      I’ll be honest, it also makes me nervous.

      1. storywrtr says:

        Thanks for updating me. I’m glad her book is back, but what a headache. Thanks again for sharing this.

        1. I agree. It must have been such a headache for her. I’m glad it worked out well, and hopefully, it’ll help more authors to have a successful resolution if something like this ever happens to them.

  3. Good news, everyone! The book is back up on Amazon! I’m going to link to the Kindleboards thread for the details about the entire thing: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,210050.0.html

  4. jisoucie says:

    I am so sorry this happened to you! So scary this can be done so easily. It’s things like this that make me nervous to independently publish my next book. So thankful this ended happily for you!

    1. This happened to Becca Mills. I reblogged her post. 🙂 But it’s extremely nice of you to be so kind on her behalf. And I agree with you. It is something that makes me nervous, too. I don’t want to give into fear, but it definitely makes you wary of who is out there and what they are likely to do. 😦

  5. Thanks for sharing Ruth, what a horrendous experience and a waste of valuable ‘time’. I left a comment on the link for Becca wishing her well. A very informative post. God bless /peace to all.

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