Amazon has a bit of a public relations problem stemming from the prevalence of plagiarized self-published books and e-books on the site, Fast Company reports. Especially in the erotica section, Amazon is rife with republished works taken from the public domain or other authors—and no matter how fast they remove them, the perpetrators continue to perpetrate more.

When PaidContent looked into the matter, an Amazon representative told them that they do use screening software and have “worked steadily to detect and remove” copyright violators, and have removed thousands of such works over time. The representative declined to provide any details, however.

There’s no question that Amazon has been working on winnowing out duplicates, including both copyright violators and PLR (“Private Label Rights”) republished work—as shown by this example from August. But is it doing enough? Fast Company suggests some other things Amazon could try:

Why not require an author to submit a valid credit card before she can self-publish her works on the Kindle? If an author, who could still publish under a pen name, were found to have violated someone else’s copyright Amazon could charge that card $2,000 and ban her from selling again. Amazon could also run content through one of the many plagiarism detectors that are available–such as Turnitin or iThenticate–before an ebook is put on sale.

Of course, the credit card idea might be going too far to the opposite extreme—but as ineffective as Amazon’s efforts seem from time to time, it might benefit by doing something more.

It is questionable whether Amazon could effectively be taken to court over the issue, as legal experts state that Amazon is not legally required to act unless it knows about a specific infringement. Some of the issues PaidContent mentions are, interestingly enough, the same ones that apply to file-sharing site Megaupload which just got taken down by the Department of Justice and may well end up losing its safe harbor protection.


  1. Up until now, I’ve published exclusively on Smashwords and Pubit. I’ve been considering adding Amazon, but the implementation of a credit card requirement would change that very quickly. Almost everyone has a credit card these days, so I can’t see that going very far to prevent the problem. There are people without credit cards, for one reason or another, and such a step would lock them out of Amazon, for no very good reason. I prefer to use only debit cards and have been perfectly happy with that decision. Would I apply for a credit card just to please Amazon? No. Are people who can’t qualify for a credit card or who refuse to have one any more likely to be plagiarists and content thieves? I doubt it.

  2. I see this as a phase that the industry is going through. Amazon is working hard on this I am certain because it damages their business and reputation. Whether credit cards or Paypal accounts or other solution is chosen, I suggest that if an author wants to earn a living then he needs to get a grip and do whatever is required.

  3. Why “author” can’t just get visa gift card so it pass amazon’s verifications (but will fail 2000US$ charge?).

    And still, at least _some_ card idea and banning is good(and,after all, “author” needs to get money out so at some time she will enter ACH details to withdrawal, and it’s more difficult to get unlimited number of bank accounts than of gift cards)

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