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Old 08-17-2009, 12:28 PM   #16
KarlB
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Augh! Call out the guards! Release the dogs! Quick Amazon, delete everything from everyone's Kindle ASAP!

Seriously though, this is weird. I can't imagine that Amazon is getting so many thousands of legitimate independently submitted books that it would be all that difficult for them to do a little validating.
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:50 PM   #17
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Some of Cory Doctorow's essays speak directly to this circumstance. As the marketplace grows there is no way Amazon (or Youtube or ...) can verify the copyright of every offering. We tend to be less forgiving when they charge us for content but is the root issue any different?
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon View Post
And how, exactly, does Amazon validate them?

One of the big problems with the current state of copyright in the world is that there is no directory of who owns what content.
They could insist on a signed contract, not a click-button agreement, that the person submitting the material has the rights to do so.

Quote:
It's fairly easy to determine who owns the rights to something like Harry Potter or Heinlein, but what about something a no-name author put out a few years back?
They could also assign someone on their staff to at least google for each book submitted--it won't fix the no-name/midlist author problem, but it'd allow them to say, "Gee, I wonder if Aaron Smith, P1R4T0RZ@freemail.com, really does have the rights to distribute the Harry Potter books?"

Right now, Amazon's legal stance is the same is thepiratebay's: "but they totally clicked on the button that said they had the right to upload this! And we'll remove it right away if we get DMCA complaints!"

Amazon's situation has the added twist that they're directly profiting from their lack of review of the content uploaded to their site.

Quote:
Or how about the Doc Savage and The Shadow stories where we have a company (Conde Nast) who says that they own the rights, but others (Blackmask) saying that they are in the public domain. (Story here.)
Those are issues for the courts; Amazon's not likely liable if they believed the wrong side (whatever that turns out to be).

Quote:
Of course, it would be a really nice thing if Amazon would pay to do all the leg work to determine the ownership of all these "abandoned" works, but I doubt that they could afford it (and it probably wouldn't be worth it).
Obscure or questionable works aren't the issue here--nobody's arguing that maybe the Harry Potter books really are in the public domain; Amazon's just refusing to preemptively look at what's uploaded to their servers.

I think they're on pretty thin ice where safe harbor is concerned, because they're taking a cut of every ebook sold; they have an obvious interest in *not* managing their content better. In case of lawsuit, they'd have to prove that wasn't part of the reason for not reviewing books & getting real contracts before they sell them.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:05 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
They could insist on a signed contract, not a click-button agreement, that the person submitting the material has the rights to do so.
And people can lie. Contracts only let Amazon off the legal hook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
They could also assign someone on their staff to at least google for each book submitted--it won't fix the no-name/midlist author problem, but it'd allow them to say, "Gee, I wonder if Aaron Smith, P1R4T0RZ@freemail.com, really does have the rights to distribute the Harry Potter books?"
While that works for well-known works, it fails for not-well-known works.

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Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
Right now, Amazon's legal stance is the same is thepiratebay's: "but they totally clicked on the button that said they had the right to upload this! And we'll remove it right away if we get DMCA complaints!"
Which, as someone has pointed out, is exactly what You Tube does.

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Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
Amazon's situation has the added twist that they're directly profiting from their lack of review of the content uploaded to their site.
My understanding is that if someone actually paid money for these, Amazon refunds the money and pulls the book off the Swindle... er... Kindle. So how is Amazon profiting?

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Obscure or questionable works aren't the issue here
Yes, it is the issue. Well known works are easy to identify. Obscure and questionable works are not.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:11 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
I noticed Harlan Ellison's Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes at $20. It's available for less in his authorized Deathbird Stories, The whole book for $9.99 at fictionwise. If this is a pirated edition of Maggie, Amazon has some interesting times ahead of it....
Uh-oh...if Harlan Ellison is being pirated this is going to get pretty hairy pretty soon *Sits back and waits for the fireworks*
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:14 PM   #21
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Question Just like Apple?

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Amazon should stop allowing books to be published without first verifying them.
You mean like Apple verifies all applications before adding them to the apps shop?
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:32 PM   #22
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They wouldn't even have to have a person Google them. They could just compare author and title to their own print catalog and look for things similar. I've seen a pirate copy where they slightly misspelled both author name and title so exact match wouldn't be good enough. Their own search engine on the site is good at accommodating this, though. While this wouldn't catch more obscure works, as rlauzon says, it would catch the most attractive targets which are probably the biggest liability as well. It's also a tool that would be quick to implement. No need to make the perfect the enemy of the good when they can certainly improve the system over time.

As for validating the uploader, can someone fill me in on what they do now? I wonder if there is a way they can mandate and enforce that the uploader has an active account at a US financial institution tied to the Amazon account? That might be a big disincentive since that's rather more traceable.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:34 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alisa View Post
As for validating the uploader, can someone fill me in on what they do now? I wonder if there is a way they can mandate and enforce that the uploader has an active account at a US financial institution tied to the Amazon account? That might be a big disincentive since that's rather more traceable.
You do have to have that. You have to fax them a form with tax ID, social security number, bank account details, etc etc.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:41 PM   #24
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You do have to have that. You have to fax them a form with tax ID, social security number, bank account details, etc etc.
Are they not verifying this information then?
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:47 PM   #25
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I'm wondering, if they start doing these author/title checks and catch the better know ones, e.g. Potter, King, etc, but don't catch the less well know books. Does that put them in deeper legal water? Maybe their lawyers told them not to do the checks because then they could be liable for the ones that got through?
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:01 PM   #26
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Update: The Rowling & King & Ellison titles have been removed (actually still there but listed as "Not Currently Available" - but the high end stuff ($200 Heinlein, etc.) and the Zelazny are still there.
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:18 PM   #27
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It looks like roughly 150 titles were uploaded by this guy on August 16 including all the ones mentioned above and also things like translations of The Odyssey, another two of the Iliad, books by Fritz Leiber, Anne Rice, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. P. Lovecraft, and couple dozen other authors - all with the similar characteristics. I guess he woke up yesterday and decided "Hey, I'll pull a prank and upload all my pirated ebooks to Amazon for sale. That'll show 'em! Then I'll mow the lawn and have some lunch."
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:41 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alisa View Post
Are they not verifying this information then?
US Employers don't verify this information; I don't believe Amazon has the ability to verify it.

They might be able to confirm that a given name actually has a given bank account #--but without the right documents, it's possible they can only "confirm" by depositing money in the account.

What signed docs give them, is the right to sue if the person lied, which can be difficult to do if they don't have the person's legal name in the first place. And verifying ID can be difficult in the best of circumstances... but I suspect that they're not even doing the most basic of checks; not even insisting on a phone # or an email and calling or writing the person and requiring that a real person reply.
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:55 PM   #29
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Re: Ellison titles:
A number of Ellison titles that are $5-$9 at Fictionwise, are available for $0.99 or less at Amazon, with "Fictionwise Classic" listed as the publisher. It looks like the Kindle versions are individual short stories (although they're shown with the book cover for the book, and nothing in the description indicates you're buying one story).

Shatterday at Amazon: 21kb, $0.69; Shatterday at Fictionwise: 358kb for the Mobi version, $9.99.

Hmm. Has Amazon bought a Fictionwise license? I know FW will let other companies set up their own branded stores with a FW feed.
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Old 08-17-2009, 03:23 PM   #30
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Sure, Amazon should probably screen the obvious big name authors, like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. But other than that, it's problematic. There's no reasonable way to verify if a publisher has the right to print any given book. Here is how the majority of professional publishing contracts work (and I do not include self-publishing, although that certainly has its place in the market).

1. An author submits a book to a publisher.
2. If the publisher wants the book, they enter into a contractural agreement with the author.
3. These contracts are HIGHLY variable. In the vast majority, the author retains the copyright, but grants the publisher exclusive rights to publish and distribute the work in certain forms and media (e.g. print, electronic, audio). When the contract expires, these rights revert to the author, and it is up to the publisher to cease publication by the end of the contract (or be in breach).

It's not feasible to expect Amazon to create a gigantic database of all works under contract, who currently has the electronic rights, and the date on which those rights expire, let alone to check it with every upload. I have a medium sized publishing company, and we contract at least 4 books per week. We've been in business for 5 years. Do the math; that's a lot of books, and we're one company. Amazon has to rely on our signed statement that we are legally allowed to publish the books we offer.

How they determine a "legitimate" publisher versus a pirate is also problematic. There are plenty of small publishers who are legitimate, and plenty of pirates who pose as legitimate publishers.
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