Independent Publishing and DMCA Abuse, or “How a Scammer got My Book Blocked with Very Little Effort”
From author Becca Mills:
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.
. . . .
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.” It’s a Clinton-era U.S. law that lays forth a process for dealing with copyright infringement online. If you find material online that infringes a copyright you hold, you can send the hosting website a DMCA notice; in order to be in compliance with U.S. law, the hosting website has to remove the material and notify the person who posted it.
When I heard a DMCA notice had been filed against Nolander — which is a completely original work — I assumed a reader had reacted badly after reading the book in a boxed set and then finding it available as a standalone. It could be confusing to find the same material in different places, after all. A vigilant reader might think something fishy was going on. So I wrote back to KDP, sending them my U.S. copyright registration info and assuring them that Nolander was my work.
Soon after, I found an email notification from Smashwords as well. That one was a little more informative:
Hi [my real name redacted],
I have just unpublished your book Nolander, formerly found here:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/272292
As we received a DMCA Notice and I was able to verify that the text in your book, published on Jan. 07, 2013, matched the text of a book made public on August 2nd, 2011.
If you have any questions or can give me critical information about the book, please do. Per our policy, the book needs to remain unpublished until Smashwords is given consent by both parties to republish it.
Thank you for your understanding.
*[name redacted] – Smashwords Support Team*
. . . .
Also in my email was a notification for a pending comment on my website (I have to personally approve comments from first-time commenters):
February 28, 2015 at 3:21 AM
I can’t find Nolander on Amazon. The link is returning “Page Not Found”. I only found a Print Edition on Amazon which cots $15 ! But I find Nolander on other stores like B&N.
Have you removed your book from Amazon? Sorry but I only download or buy books from Amazon. Please consider your decision again.
. . . .
At that point, KDP got back to me:
As stated in our previous communication, we’ve received notice from a third party regarding copyright concerns over B007R6PPZA Nolander (Emanations, an urban fantasy series Book 1) by Becca Mills. We don’t involve ourselves in third party disputes and therefore have removed the availability of the book through our systems until this matter is resolved.
Here you will find information on the party that submitted the notice:
If a resolution is reached, before we may take any appropriate action regarding the book(s), all involved parties must contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to the rest at The Active Voice
PG doesn’t give legal advice on The Passive Voice, but he would suggest giving serious consideration to sending a counter-notification if someone files an improper DMCA Take-down Notice.
See this page for a good explanation of DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices.