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:
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.