Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let the Buyer Beware on e-bay - writing tip

Author Rowena Cherry reported to EPIC this week more piracy going on at eBay.

Regarding: EBay auction item
11,000 Romance Novels eBook Pdf on 2 DVDs Free Shipping
Item Id: 230633024011 (and other auctions)
Seller bhsucreoriginal (574) aka Mr Eng B El-Sokkary, 10295 Lynches River Road, Lynchburg, SC 29080

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem <http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230641699430#ht_2298wt_1399>&item=230641699430#

The seller alleges that he has reseller rights.

He is also selling other collections of 17,000 e-books, and various other genres of fiction.
He insists that he has the rights to these DVDs. He also includes "copyright text" asserting his own copyright over the DVDs.

Rowena did complain to him and said she sent him a "cease and desist" letter, as her titles did appear on his disk.

In selling these items he is violating the rights of many authors and their publishers. I did read the list and didn't find any of my authors in the first few letters -- however there were thousands of names.

Rowena mentioned that she has complained about this guy under several different names now, and had him kicked off eBay, only to find him turning up, with the same products, again and again, under new seller IDs. Quite a simple thing to do, just register as a new member of eBay, with a different name. They do no background checks and ANYone can join the site. I could easily register my cat as an eBay user.

It would be nice, as Rowena suggests, if EPIC and other author's associations were to get involved in trying to stop this kind of abuse of our legal rights as authors. The Author's Guild, the only organization with enough clout to do it, takes little note of e-book authors, requiring an advance from the publisher of "at least $1000" for an author to have membership, let alone representation. With this requirement, they exclude not only almost all ebook publisher and authors, but those with small press publishers as well.

I'd like to say there's something we can do. But in reality--though I have played my part as a publisher in sending "cease and desist" letters and making (sometimes successful) threats of legal action to protect our authors in the past, in reality there is little we can do to stop these thieves. You can get a server to deny them privileges by complaining that they are breaking the law, yes, but there are thousands more servers, many outside the United States who are not subject to our copyright laws, and there is no coordinated list where ISPs can check whether a business registering a domain with them is legitimate or not.

There is no Better Business Bureau on the web. And, like the poor, the dishonest will always be with us.

So what can we do about them? Not much. We can only pray that honest customers will come to realize --as they have already realized with all those letters from bankers' wives in Nigeria, promising them millions if only they will send a thousand dollars--that if a deal on the web sounds too good to be true, it is probably operated by someone dishonest.

I have long deplored the "buy books from your branded device only" philosophy followed by the makers of reading devices, all of whom have developed their own formatting language and operate "stores" and who make it almost impossible for you to buy formatted books from anyone else and read them on their brand of reader.

However, I can't help a smirk or two when I think about the person who pays this pirate for "11,000 Romance novels" and then finds he can't read a one of them on his Kindle, Nook, or eBookWise reader, but must sit hours staring at the computer screen to read them....

In the phrase of the old Civil Law Court -- "Let the Buyer Beware...." :)

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