Seth Godin has received an email from Amazon (and paidContent has picked up as news) that Amazon is cracking down on public-domain and “private label rights” e-books. The note states that Amazon will only allow sales of content freely available on the web by the actual copyright owner of that content. It specifically calls out permission-granted-to-redistribute stuff—i.e. private label rights—as the sort of things that will not be accepted. Amazon will accept public domain content, but may not sell a public domain book if “its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.”

What I don’t get is how this is really news. Amazon has been trying to winnow out spam and public domain content for some time. In August 2011, Paul mentioned one example of a PLR spammer getting his books rejected under Amazon’s “undifferentiated or barely differentiated” policy. And Amazon was cracking down on duplicate public domain titles in 2009 and 2010, using very similar language. As nearly as I can tell, this announcement could itself be considered “duplicate content” because I don’t see much difference between it and what Amazon was doing already.


  1. Amazon previously insisted that public domain titles must distinguish themselves by being annotated and/or illustrated.

    Most of the people publishing such books just bunged in a few vaguely appropriate PD illustrations and/or just added [Annotated] or [Illustrated] to the title.

    Perhaps they’re going to try to enforce the policy more tightly.

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