July 23 – July 30, 2009 Edition

Amazon Removes Illegal Books from Kindle

NEW YORK, NY/AUTHORLINK NEWS/07/22/09– last week removed 1984 and Animal Farm from its Kindle Store after learning the book titles were illegal copies. The incident, first called to Amazon’s attention by comments on its Kindle community, brings to light the widespread problem of illegal texts being uploaded and sold on Kindle and other e-book sites.

Amazon has been criticized for not verifying that the entity uploading content is the legal rightsholder. One e-book site, Scribd, has begun steps to screen uploads. Many publishers are uploading copyrighted books to head off any illegal uploads, some sources say.

One of many customers commenting last week in the Kindle community forum said:

“What ticked me off is that I got a refund out of the blue and my book just disappeared out of my archive. I emailed Amazon for an answer as to what was going on and they said there was a “problem” with the book, nothing more specific. I’m sorry, when you delete my private property – refund or not – without my permission, I expect a better explanation than that. And, BTW – Pirated books showing up on Amazon – not MY problem – hire more people to check them BEFORE you sell them to me. I call BS on the “sometimes publishers pull their titles” lame excuse someone else got too. . .I liken it to a B&N clerk coming to my house when I’m not home, taking a book I bought from then from my bookshelf and leaving cash in its place. It’s a violation of my property and this is a perfect example of why people (rightly) hate DRM.”

Another customer said, “I was annoyed that the email announcing the refund gave no explanation or indication that the books were being deleted. It’s the same email they send if the buyer initiates a refund. Also, I’m concerned now that I don’t really ‘own’ any of the books on my Kindle, and that any could be ‘taken back’ if Amazon renegotiates with the publisher. It sounds like that’s what happened here.”

Amazon told media sources Friday that it is modifying its systems to prevent a similar situation. However, no details of how such a system might work were available.

In addition to e-book piracy, some publishers suspect that illegal copies of printed books are being sold on Amazon through third-party vendors, but the suspicions have not yet been verified.