It’s a sobering fact: plagiarism is part of a writer’s life. I have been publishing articles on the Internet since 1999 and the “theft” of my content was common.
There is a saying: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” I wish they had chosen to copy my red robe and UGG slippers.
Last week they hit me again. This time it was an e-book. As a “competitor”, I buy several format books each month. Not to steal content, but to read other avenues (there is more than one way to format your book) and to make sure my content was not stolen.
I found an e-book that was well written and clean. And for the first 78% it was fine, then I read the last 3 chapters. What% @ #! *! My words stared back at me from my iPad. Even the typo!
After 4 hours of investigation, I discovered that the perpetrator used a pseudonym for his e-book; I found out his “real” name, his Twitter and Facebook accounts, his postal address and phone number AND where he worked. I was a regular second cousin of Sherlock Holmes, twice eliminated.
But the real problem? He was one of my clients! Once I had your real name, I found your order where you purchased my Kit and then I copied the content directly from the PDF into your e-book.
So what can you do to protect yourself from plagiarism?
Register a Copyright. I know, your work is protected by copyright from the moment you put “pencil on paper”. GOAL, do it anyway. In the US, the cost is only $ 35 and it protects you internationally.
Be careful. You can’t be everywhere at once, but your readers can (almost). I have a very loyal customer base and they joined my side when I was attacked.
Buy books that are “suspicious.” Check out the “Look Inside” or get a sample of the book. both are free. If you see similarities, buy the book. You can request a refund within 4 days, if you wish. I do not recommend that you buy and return regularly as this can mark your account.
What to do if you find that your work has been plagiarized?
FIRST. DO NOT CONTACT THE OFFENDER. No matter how tempting it is, don’t hurt yourself with a direct attack. Leave that up to the store’s legal department and your own attorney. If you have a legal claim, the store will do everything in its power to eliminate the problem for fear of retaliation.
SECOND. Contact the store. In my case, the offender was on Amazon. At the bottom of every product page there is a blue box labeled “Comments.” There are several options you can choose from to comment on the product, including:
Do you think this article violates copyright? Click here
Amazon takes copyright infringement very seriously. I was Misinformed about that fact by a reputable attorney and it was hoped that he would never receive a response from Amazon on the matter. I was pleasantly surprised when, 2 days after contacting Amazon’s Legal Department, I was notified that the offending material would be removed. (note: the book takes about 3 days to appear, I imagine they have many cases to deal with).
THIRD. Get a lawyer. One who can at least write a cease and desist. Do a lot of leg work yourself and get ready. Having a registered copyright is a great advantage, especially if you are filing a claim internationally. If you pay a lawyer $ XXX / hour, you’ll want to get in and out quickly.
Copyright Registration (US)
Amazon Notice and Procedure for Filing Claims of Copyright Infringement
If you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please provide Amazon.com’s copyright agent with the written information specified below. Please note that this procedure is solely for notifying Amazon that your copyrighted material has been infringed.
- An electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner;
- A description of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed;
- A description of where the material that you claim is infringing is located on the site, including the auction identification number, if applicable;
- Your address, telephone number and email address;
- A statement by you that you have a good faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
- A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the information above in your notice is accurate and that you are the copyright owner or authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.
Once you have collected your information, you can send it by email, post or fax. I decided to fax it and wrote down the date and time. I also followed up through their contact form of the offense.
You can contact Amazon.com’s Copyright Agent to receive notifications of claims of copyright infringement on their site as follows:
Amazon.com Legal Department
P.O. Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108
phone: (206) 266-4064
fax: (206) 266-7010
email: [email protected]
Amazon.com Legal Department
410 Terry Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109-5210
The offending book will be removed from Amazon on Tuesday. My attorney will send a cease and desist letter to the offender to further strengthen my claim and hopefully deter any future violations.
One of the best results of this whole situation was the great support from readers and customers. I can’t even tell you how amazing that felt.