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