Home » David Gaughran, Piracy, Self-Publishing » The One Where An Author Steals Text From My Book To Sell Pirated Software

The One Where An Author Steals Text From My Book To Sell Pirated Software

13 January 2016

From David Gaughran:

In today’s episode we are going to out a two-bit huckster who tried to put one over on yours truly, take a quick detour through the verdant fields of copyright law (and the slightly plainer meadows of moral rights), and then end with an example of how to handle a scammer.

Sound fun? Strap yourselves in!

A helpful reader – who will remain nameless for reasons that will become obvious – emailed me yesterday morning. I was just about to start work but the subject line caught my attention: Did You Give Permission For This?

Uh oh. I started reading the message he had forwarded.

It had originated from a domain called IndieWriterSupport.com (you can cut-and-paste that address or Google it, but I’m not linking directly and giving them an SEO boost). And it appeared to be a straight cog from my book Let’s Get Visible.

What was going on here? I kept reading.

At the end of this considerable (2,411 word!) chunk from Let’s Get Visible some text had been added promoting a product called KDSPY – which is the new name for what was previously known as Kindle Spy.

There was then a bit.ly link to purchase KDSPY, which suspiciously went direct to a PayPal purchase page rather than the site of KDSPY, followed by another call-to-action asking people to visit IndieWriterSupport.com – the same domain as the one which had sent the email.

To be clear: I have never used Kindle Spy, let alone endorsed it, and I certainly didn’t write about it in Let’s Get Visible – I think the product wasn’t even launched until a year after I published that book – and I hadn’t written about it anywhere else for that matter. I’d also never heard of the website sending the email, nor given them permission to use my work.

. . . .

What I do have is a layman’s familiarity with legal concepts pertaining to my profession and knew straight away that this guy was breaching my copyright, and probably my moral rights as an author too. The first should be obvious, although there is an interesting wrinkle worth pointing out in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

When I released Let’s Get Visible, I did a few guest posts to promote the launch. One of those was on the blog of ALLi – the Alliance of Independent Authors. The post was essentially an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Let’s Get Visible, the one dealing with Amazon’s category system and explaining how to optimize your category metadata.

ALLi had permission to run that excerpt, but that doesn’t stop that work (and those words in particular) being protected under copyright, and doesn’t give carte blanche for anyone else to use it either.

And, while the definition of “Fair Use” is regularly debated, and defined differently by different jurisdictions and, it seems, different judges, it’s quite clear that this doesn’t fall under any definition or interpretation of Fair Use, especially given that they excerpted the entire chapter and were using it for clear commercial purposes.

. . . .

This “publisher” appears to have been operating since 2013. I found a complaints online dating from then, slamming it for being a crappy vanity press which charges reading fees.

. . . .

The Kindle Spy team were great. I emailed them via their contact page and got a response right away. They were extremely helpful and in a position to confirm two surprising things. First, this guy wasn’t a Kindle Spy affiliate. Second, they reckoned this was the same guy they were already chasing – someone had pirated their software and was selling unauthorized copies of same.

. . . .

[M]y personal favorite where he actually trots out the E word:

Request granted!

Link to the rest at David Gaughran

David also points out a discussion of this organization on Absolute Write.

Here’s a link to David Gaughran’s books. If you appreciate his work in pointing out scams targeting authors, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

David Gaughran, Piracy, Self-Publishing

23 Comments to “The One Where An Author Steals Text From My Book To Sell Pirated Software”

  1. If you steal from one source, that is plagiarism, if you steal from many, well, that’s just research.


    Would be nice if they could shut that idiot down, but he’ll most likely just change his name and do it again …

  2. And the scammers dumb enough to admit his crimes on Twitter. *facepalm*

  3. Not the first criminally-inclined moron to claim (as this guy actually did in another tweet) that anything you find on Google is free for the taking. Also stupid enough to think David would believe him.

    Oh, and wrong on both counts.

  4. Everyone should be aware that anything reachable by any search engine is available for taking. I did not mention legality, only that the text is there for taking. Much easier than knocking off a convenience store, only a random coincidence is likely to let the victim know he has been robbed, and finding a careful culprit can be near impossible. The decision to expose text to the script kiddies on the Internet is not easy.

    • Random coincidence is actually quite likely. In a room of just 23 people there’s a 50-50 chance of two people having the same birthday. Birthday paradox explained. And there are the Five Degrees of Kevin Bacon. On Monday I learned that one of my friends used to play with David Bowie’s kid backstage when my friend’s father was a roadie on one of Bowie’s tours. When someone is targeting, for example, the community of hopeful writers looking for publishing advice online, the chances that someone will notice a quote lifted from another person addressing the same audience on the same topic approach 1-in-1.

      From the other side, there are not many careful culprits. These people are taking a shortcut. They’re lazy or slapdash. They very often have an inflated sense of their own cleverness compared to other people. By the time one takes all the precautions to be considered a careful culprit, it’s easier to not be a culprit at all.

  5. What this about “the E word”? Which E word would that be? (Feeling dense today.)

  6. I almost dont know where to start about how to detail what David and many of us have been through regarding persons who cant be bothered to site, apply, ask for rights/permissions. And, they are not. There’s a creep outfit [sells through amazon] that if you as author have a series populare, they will outsource to a non-native English speaker to write an ebook ‘guide’ [like Spark only utter dreck] to your work even though you hold the rights to license a guide to your work first and foremost, amongst other rights held by the author.

    It’s not gray area transformative fair use. It’s theft of pages and pages of another’s work. It’s not academic research, it’s not parody or any of the other set asides by law for taking in the first case, a certain amount. It’s theft for moneymaking. And, if your name is well known in the genre, your readers will stumble and buy the dreck. And it is dreck, thrown together with titles of your books prominent, and at anywhere from 1.99-9,99 last I looked. NO contact from them ever. It may even be an offshore operation. DOnt know.

    What I do know is their c is an embarrassment to any self-respecting writer. And they have I believe hundreds of ‘guides’ to others’ works, and rushing more into ebk at amz every day. They quaintly have even thought up some Q and A for their ‘guides’ that are also demented, often off the mark. As mentioned, seems the work is done by those who cannot grasp structure and intents in characterizations, just for starters.

    THis outfit and I imagine there are others too, are exactly similar to those who take OP work, slap their own name on it and repub as ebook claiming copyright because they wrote a tin horn ‘intro’ that is barely readable on the front end.

    Ya basta. I think I ought look into cannibalizing their ‘guides.’ Only do an ace-accurate job of it. lol.

  7. ‘site’ should be ‘cite’. [The new commenting system times out immediately at the moment. No prob. We’re patient.]

  8. There are always scammers. Despite the utter joy at KUv2, nothing has changed so far as people putting up crap, rip offs and outright theft of intellectual property. It’s a constant battle to keep it to the barest possible minimum.

    I’d say more, but I’m sure the filter would jolt me like a golfer at the ninth hole in a thunderstorm.

  9. Whoah! No editing time at all.

    Anyway, I wanted to express my sympathy to David for having to deal with this. He does such good for the indie world, it’s a pity he has to go through the quagmire.

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