skip to Main Content
KDP Piracy Victims May Be Eligible For Compensation

KDP Piracy Victims May Be Eligible for Compensation

In my discussions with authors who have deal with piracy of their books, a recurring theme is the loss of royalties. Authors rarely see the lost royalties stolen by pirates, counterfeiters, and other copyright violators, and most assume the money is securely in the pockets of the thieves.

But there's an interesting clause tucked away in the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Terms and Conditions that can turn the tables on that platform's pirates:

5.7 Rights Clearances and Rights Dispute Resolution.
[…]If you notify us through the procedure we provide on the applicable Amazon Property for making claims of copyright infringement that a third party has made a Book available for distribution through the Program (or for distribution in a particular territory through the Program) that you have the exclusive right to make available under the Program, then, upon your request and after verification of your claim, we will pay you the Royalties due in connection with any sales of the Book through the Program [emphasis added], and will remove the Book from future sale through the Program, as your sole and exclusive remedy.

TL;DR version: Amazon may confiscate royalties from the unauthorized sale of your book and hand them over to you.

That's great news for those who have had their work sold unlawfully on Amazon. However, Amazon doesn't always volunteer this information; you will need to specifically request that the royalties be reassigned and cite this section of the Terms and Conditions.

To use this remedy, you'll need to follow the conditions in the fine print.

“If you notify us through the procedure we provide…”

KDP Support or ECR (Executive Customer Relations) will not be able to help you on this issue. You must file a notice of copyright infringement through Amazon's online form or through formal communication with Amazon's legal department to be eligible for compensation.

“…on the applicable Amazon Property…”

The Terms and Conditions define “Amazon Property” as “any web site, application or online point of presence, on any platform, that is owned or operated by or under license by Amazon or co-branded with Amazon….”

This means you'll need to file a separate complaint and claim for each Amazon site and territory affected: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, etc.

“…that a third party has made a Book available…”

In 2015, the CreateSpace Terms of Service did not include the same clause, and so piracy via Amazon's print on demand services was not covered by this section. However, now that Amazon has folded CreateSpace into its KDP operations, that language has been modified to refer to “Books” — both digital and print.

What are the limitations?

This is wonderful protection for an author's rights, but it doesn't cover all situations.

One of the largest loopholes in this clause is that plagiarism may not be a black-and-white case of copyright infringement. If Amazon determines that the offending title isn't a verbatim copy of the work, or that it doesn't equal an infringement of your rights, they may reject the claim until a court order is obtained.

But for some cases of outright piracy or counterfeiting, this clause can help recover some or all of the money the infringer has made off your hard work.

This clause can also be used against a rogue publisher who doesn't have the rights to publish your work. Sometimes, an author terminates their contract with a vanity press, but the publisher doesn't acknowledge the demand to take the books down from retailers like Amazon. If all the proper procedures of the contract's termination clause have been followed (and documented), and a reasonable period of time has passed, the author may file a copyright infringement report with Amazon to recover any funds due to the publisher.

This article was originally published in a modified form on the Words on Words blog.

Over to you

Legalese is a tedious read, but it can quite literally pay if you take the time to familiarize yourself with it. Have you read the Terms and Conditions you agreed to when you signed up for KDP? Let us know in the comments below!

Has your #indieAuthor book been pirated on KDP? Amazon may pay you if you ask. — by @johndoppler Click To Tweet

Author: John Doppler

From the sunny California beaches where he washed ashore in 2008, John Doppler scrawls tales of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror -- and investigates self-publishing services as the Alliance of Independent Authors's Watchdog. John relishes helping authors turn new opportunities into their bread and butter and offers terrific resources for indie authors at Words on Words. He shares his lifelong passion for all things weird and wonderful on The John Doppler Effect.


This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. If you have any doubt that what I am saying is not true, for the sake of your response, please believe me.

    I am a self-published author and sell my eBook via KDP as well as use their no risk print-on-demand option.

    It’s great in that I earn more (Far from “Rich”, I average $300-$400 a month on my one published book) than many brand new self-published authors. I worked myself ragged on the illustrations (Self taught through MUCH trial and error) and being a retired military member (I used to have a very strict/mechanical way of writing) had no choice but to rewrite my manuscript a few times.

    My problem is that I have irrefutable proof that Amazon is not paying me for all of the sales of my book. I have spoken to them on one occasion, but they are very fast top tell me I am mistaken. I didn’t tell them that I actually have dozens of receipts from customers who own my book, and that I have not been paid for those sales.

    If this is happening, how many sales to customers I am not acquainted with have I not been paid for? That is the problem with digital sales, as well as print-on-demand. We only know if a sale occurred because Amazon tells us a sale occurred.

    I made changes so Amazon can’t keep my royalties anymore, but it was a pain. That being said, they still owe me for those previous sales, and how much in unpaid royalties am I not aware of? It’s not even remotely possible that the only unpaid royalties they owe me are from people that I know who purchased my book. Logically, people who I do not personally also purchased one of the formats, and Amazon kept the royalties.

    I now have a physical inventory of my paperback (Edition 2 was required to make this work) in the FBA warehouse which is actually nice, because I can sell if for less and earn the same. Amazon’s print-on-demand costs are high, which only outweigh the cost of FBA services if a book isn’t selling, which mine is selling enough to justify the costs.

    As for my eBook, the Edition 2 is not on Amazon, it’s everywhere else via an aggregator. I also raised the prices of my Edition 1 formats so high than Amazon will not be able to sell them, and if they choose to discount them..well..that’s their call, but their policy to to pay the author’s list price…if they actually paid.

    I haven’t decided what I will do yet. I can’t sue them for a few hundred dollars. Amazon wouldn’t be defending themselves to keep the money, they would be defending their reputation. I can’t afford a legal team capable of challenging that.

    In the end, I can easily receive the royalties for the customer receipts I have, and should forget about the unknown. Chalk it up as a learning experience, and perhaps start telling Amazon that every package they leave in the unsecured lobby of my condo was stolen. That’s one way to recoup unknown losses. But nah, that would be wrong.

  2. I am very happy to have read this article and learn what steps can be taken to block the sale on Amazon of a pirated book.

    That is not to say the pirated book won’t be sold at other sites and under a different title.

    But at least it is an effort to protect us authors.

  3. My printed book was pirated on Amazon the minute I released it through LULU. Dozens of sellers, with jacked up prices. I took my book off LULU because they said there was nothing they or I could do about it and thus, hopefully off Amazon. However, months later, my printed book is still for sale on Amazon by people that are not me or LULU. Very bad business.

    1. Hi Jeanne,
      Those are actually third-party sellers, not pirates. Many of them run automated systems that simply offer “used” copies of every book they can find, but they don’t actually possess the book. When an order comes in, they place an order with Amazon, sometimes using a wholesale discount, then ship it to the buyer at a profit.

      It’s not piracy because any sales are going through legitimate channels, and you’re paid for each sale.

      If you remove the book from Amazon, those third-party listings remain. But, if you order a book from them at that point, they are unable to fulfill the order because it’s no longer available from Amazon, and after a few days they will notify you that the order is cancelled.

      I wish Amazon was clearer about the role of third-party sellers; it would save authors a lot of needless anxiety!

  4. Sounds like in most cases, it will cost a lot of money to hire an attorney to provide that the theft was done through Amazon. I am sure that Amazon has a lot more money for lawyers than the average author.

    1. Hi Barbara,
      That’s the best thing about this program: no litigation is required. Just send a letter to their legal department, and they’ll pull the plug on the pirates.

      1. Yes, but they refuse to pay up, even though it’s in their TOS. Found this page and was happy to learn that I may get some money back after a pirate posted 26 of my books on Amazon. I filed the copyright notice and got them removed, then I notified Amazon that I would like the royalties for the books returned to me.

        Well, they took almost three weeks to process my request, only to return and tell me they recorded 0 sales for all 26 books.
        The books had reviews and had high BSRs.
        I cannot believe they replied with such a blatant lie.

        When I pushed, I was then told they think it is reasonable for me to contact the thief on my own and sort it out myself.

        1. Did Amazon provide the Pirate’s contact information? I have requested for this and received no response from Amazon. My book keeps popping up with a different cover, title and author name. I know it is mine because of the Look inside feature. I file a report, they are all removed, and six months later more appear. It is clear to me that Amazon does not care if they publish pirated material. I would love to have the name of the person doing it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest advice, news, ratings, tools and trends.

Fairly Trained

Fairly Trained Certifies First Ethically Trained Large Language Model: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

In this episode of the Self-Publishing News Podcast, Dan Holloway brings attention to Fairly Trained, the first platform to certify ethically trained large language models, highlighting a major advancement in AI ethics. Dan also explores HarperCollins' innovative environmental efforts in reducing paper usage through font changes and the carbon footprint disparities between print and audiobooks. Additionally, he discusses the new partnership between Draft2Digital and the social reading app Fable, a development that offers fresh opportunities for authors to connect with readers.
Read more
Back To Top
×Close search