Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Serious Troubles Afoot

     Incredibly, Amazon is disputing my rights to one of my books. Here’s the email I received:


     Thank you for publishing with Amazon. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has his or her books sold by anyone else. To publish your book, please respond with documentation confirming your publishing rights within four days:

     Love In The Time Of Cinema by Francis Porretto (AUTHOR) (ID: PRI-CXTSTTECFD9)
     Examples of documentation we cannot accept are:

     - A personal statement by you that you have the publishing rights
     - A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed
     - Contracts that have not been signed by all parties

     Examples of acceptable documentation are:

     - If you are the author and you are republishing your book after your publication rights have been reverted to you, a signed reversion letter from your former publisher
     - A signed contract between you and the author granting you the rights to publish the book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
     - An e-mail from the address listed on the author’s (or their agent’s) official website confirming that you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected

     If you publish books for which you do not hold the publishing rights, your account may be terminated.

Best regards,

Amazon KDP

     I’m at a loss here. No one but Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has ever issued Love in the Time of Cinema. To the best of my knowledge, no one else is claiming to be its author.

     Here’s my reply to the email above:

Dear Sirs and Madames at Amazon,

     I don’t understand the reason for this demand. I am both the author and the publisher of Love in the Time of Cinema. Why is there any question about that? Has someone else claimed that the book belongs to him?

     I operate several websites, all of them on Google’s Blogger system: – My general commentary website. – If I have an “author’s official website,” I suppose this would be it, even though it doesn’t amount to much. -- This one is just a “vanity press” I invented myself.

     But at no time has anyone other than myself published any of my books. Indeed, at this time, all of them are available strictly through Amazon!

     Is it possible that there’s some confusion because I don’t consistently use my middle initial? Some of my books appear under Francis Porretto, and some under Francis W. Porretto. But both of those are the same individual: me!

     Please let me know what other information you need to resolve this, as I am totally dependent on Amazon for the sale of my books, including Love in the Time of Cinema.

Francis W. Porretto

     Can anyone offer any insight? Any remedy?


ÆtherCzar said...

What a crazy demand from Amazon! Keep us posted on how it turns out.

Col. B. Bunny said...

This seems a contrived objection. A simple statement from someone that he has all rights seems sufficient to me and requesting same shows sufficient care on Amazon's part to protect itself. If another FWP were to object to Amazon then more detailed evidence would need to be submitted. I don't know how Amazon gets involved in disputes between private parties, if any. I don't know what statutory protections have been afforded ISP (and others?). I presume Amazon knows that territory well so probably no relief there.

The address in your About statement here could be brought to Amazon's attention in an email from that domain name which would also contain the confirmation that "you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected."

Cordolf said...

I'm not well-versed in the publishing world, but I am an intellectual property lawyer, and it looks to me like this is a fairly standard form letter that Amazon sends to anyone that is doing anything that they would consider to be a non-first publishing of a work.

The letter sounds like it is in response to a publication request by someone. Did you recently request that Amazon make Love in the Time of Cinema available in a new format - print-on-demand, revised Kindle version, pre-printed paperback run, etc.?

If that's the case, then they are probably going through a standard process to make sure that you haven't granted those publication rights (separate from the right that they might have to the original digital distribution) to someone else.

Ridiculous as this may seem, since the original publication was through them, I would guess that a letter such as you sent would probably fit within their third category of acceptable documentation.

If it is the case that publication rights have reverted to you from your original publication via Kindle (although I doubt this, since the book is still up for sale as a purely electronic Kindle text), then they should have sent you an email/letter clarifying that the rights have reverted. Similarly, if you ever offered this on Smashwords, that might be something that Amazon noted and is seeking clarification on.

I've heard of similar issues in the past with some other indie authors I read, and sometimes their initial response to Amazon gets them an identical form letter to the original. If that happens, then the key thing is to find a way to escalate this to a person, rather than an automated process. It seems that once you get a person, there's a decent chance of clearing it up. But if you keep getting the same email response to each attempt to respond, try crafting a letter that is your actual response, and submitting it back to Amazon - as an attachment to an email response. This may get it booted up to a person to review your actual "submission", rather than generating a repeated bot-response.

If all else fails, try any chat or phone systems that KDP has available.

If you didn't recently submit a republication or modified publication request, you should contact Amazon immediately, because that suggests that someone ELSE did make such a request, and they contacted you as the name on the account.

In all likelihood, this is bureaucracy, rather than anything more nefarious. Good luck - and don't let the bastards get you down!
- Rich

Margaret Ball said...

Good Lord. This is terrifying. How are you supposed to PROVE that you wrote a book on your personal computer and submitted it through KDP?
The tone of the letter bothers me. They want a letter from your former publisher, or a signed contract, or an official website? Why is everything they list as acceptable a relic of traditional publishing? (I don't even have an 'official website.')
I wonder how you can persuade the Vice-President In Charge of Publishing Rights, who is clearly housed in the Traditional Publishing Division, to get out of his office and walk down the hall to chat with the Independent Publishing Division, which is just chock-ful of writers whose rights are based on the flimsy and unimpresive fact that they and nobody else published their books.

Linda Fox said...

KISS. Write a Word-format letter, making sure to have an official-looking letterhead on it, from the "Rights Manager" - Cuthbert P. Woodson by name, and include words that address ALL of the mentioned concerns, using that exact wording, in that letter.

Print, sign, scan, and attach as a reply to the email, along with a request for a phone number and specific person to follow up with.

Follow that email with a hard copy, registered.

BTW, follow up in a week to make certain the matter is closed, satisfactorily.

ThatWouldBeTelling said...

It's just as likely you're getting purged for thoughtcrimes, in this case likely on the blogs you're pointing out to them. This has been happening a lot in Amazon's captive publishing unit(s), Kindle all digital, and I think Create Space. See Rooshv for the most prominent example I can think of, E. Michael Jones is another.