Someone is selling my Ebook on Amazon's Kindle store, is this legal?

46 replies
Someone is selling my Ebook (with resell rights) via Amazon's Kindle store. I wonder if this is legal?

The Ebook comes with resell rights, but I don't know if people can assign an ISBN number for my ebook...

Do you have any experience with this?
#amazon #ebook #kindle #legal #selling #store
  • Profile picture of the author ThrillerAuthor
    If you did not place restrictions on where resellers could resell your ebook, then they will be free to publish it on Amazon Kindle if they want to.

    Now, if you specified in your license terms that resellers are not allowed to make changes to the book before reselling it, and they did when converting to the Kindle platform (e.g. they removed hyperlinks or branding in your book), then you can take action against them (don't know how successful you'll be with that, though).

    Usually, publishing works as follows: a publisher obtains an exclusive license from the copyrightholder (usually the author) of a book to sell the book in a specific geographic market. Therefore, as long as the license is valid, nobody else may also sell the book at the same time. The publisher then takes out an ISBN to uniquely identify the book to assist booksellers and libraries.

    In your case, the reseller (who is now also a publisher) took out an ISBN for a book they are selling with a non-exclusive license, but it does not protect them from other resellers also selling the book. I don't think that you can take any action against them for taking out an ISBN on the book, though.

    I think in future, set out your license terms more carefully (keep in mind that they might want to produce physical copies via print-on-demand or POD, also).
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  • Check the terms & conditions under which you allowed the resell rights. This may still be imaterial if you included a term such as 'There terms & conditions are subject to change without notice'.

    And then raise the issue directly with Amazon. They will have a rout through which to raise these objections.
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  • Profile picture of the author cashcow
    The Ebook comes with resell rights, but I don't know if people can assign an ISBN number for my ebook...
    Unless you specifically stated they cannot publish on the Kindle, then they are within the resell rights. After all, resell rights means they have the right to resell it, it's not just assumed that they can only sell it as an instant download.

    On mine, that I don't want sold on the Kindle, I specifically state that they cannot sell on the Kindle. Also, do the same for "offline" or print if you do not want them creating a physical book out of it.

    Lee
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    • Profile picture of the author suemax
      Originally Posted by cashcow View Post

      Unless you specifically stated they cannot publish on the Kindle, then they are within the resell rights. After all, resell rights means they have the right to resell it, it's not just assumed that they can only sell it as an instant download.

      On mine, that I don't want sold on the Kindle, I specifically state that they cannot sell on the Kindle. Also, do the same for "offline" or print if you do not want them creating a physical book out of it.

      Lee
      It seems to me that resell rights are just that - the right to re-sell. If no formats are mentioned, then the opening is there for people to .... re-sell the book!
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      • Profile picture of the author cashcow
        Originally Posted by suemax View Post

        It seems to me that resell rights are just that - the right to re-sell. If no formats are mentioned, then the opening is there for people to .... re-sell the book!
        Yes, exactly!

        Also, I wanted to add that I don't think you get an ISBN number when you publish on the kindle. I don't remember having to get one for my kindle books that I have published.

        Lee
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      • Originally Posted by suemax View Post

        It seems to me that resell rights are just that - the right to re-sell. If no formats are mentioned, then the opening is there for people to .... re-sell the book!
        Exactly. Resell rights give him the right to resell it, but it also depends on what kind of resell rights you sold it with and what, if any, restrictions you put on it at that time. If it was master resell rights, he can put his name as author and do whatever else he wants with it, unless you specifically stated otherwise in your terms.
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        • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
          Originally Posted by Bradley J Anderson View Post

          If it was master resell rights, he can put his name as author and do whatever else he wants with it, unless you specifically stated otherwise in your terms.
          This is not correct and is confusing "private label rights". Easy mistake to make.

          Resell rights give you the right to sell multiple copies of the ebook - not just your own copy.

          Master resell rights give you the right to sell resell rights to others.

          Private label rights give you the right to put your name as the author.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
    To add to the above, the ISBN is actually a moot point in this case.

    An ISBN is attached to the particular layout and format of the title, not the title itself.

    This means that if you are selling your book physically, in 10 different sizes, each size would need it's own ISBN. Just the same as when you reissue a book that has gone out of print, your reissue would require a new ISBN; unless it was identical in every way to the original.

    To take this even further, if you edit your version in anyway, provided you have the legal right to sell the ebook (you do but I mention this for others) you can get an ISBN number for your version. A difference would include simply changing the author name, and that is what I suggest you do before applying for an ISBN.

    I should point out I am not quite clear on whether you have to buy an ISBN in the normal way when using Kindle, but the rules of ISBN registration should still hold true.

    Cheers,
    Colin Palfrey
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    • Profile picture of the author RogerAderholdt
      Originally Posted by Colin Palfrey View Post

      To add to the above, the ISBN is actually a moot point in this case.

      An ISBN is attached to the particular layout and format of the title, not the title itself.

      This means that if you are selling your book physically, in 10 different sizes, each size would need it's own ISBN. Just the same as when you reissue a book that has gone out of print, your reissue would require a new ISBN; unless it was identical in every way to the original.

      To take this even further, if you edit your version in anyway, provided you have the legal right to sell the ebook (you do but I mention this for others) you can get an ISBN number for your version. A difference would include simply changing the author name, and that is what I suggest you do before applying for an ISBN.

      I should point out I am not quite clear on whether you have to buy an ISBN in the normal way when using Kindle, but the rules of ISBN registration should still hold true.

      Cheers,
      Colin Palfrey

      Great information Colin. Thanks...
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  • Profile picture of the author sloanjim
    it's the Net...anything goes....espeically in India/Singapore etc...
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    • Profile picture of the author peter gibson
      Originally Posted by sloanjim View Post

      it's the Net...anything goes....espeically in India/Singapore etc...
      What the hell is that suppose to mean?
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  • Profile picture of the author finleyjohn90
    Banned
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    • Profile picture of the author Colin Palfrey
      Originally Posted by sloanjim View Post

      it's the Net...anything goes....espeically in India/Singapore etc...
      Seriously, these are your words of wisdom are they?

      Originally Posted by finleyjohn90 View Post

      no you shoul tell amazon about this, this is illegal
      You clearly haven't even read the OP and are only interested in boosting your post count. This is not a strategy I advise, though I doubt you will listen.
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Ayres
    I guess next time you sell an ebook with resell rights you will be more careful about the rights you give.

    If you are happy with people reselling it, i dont see what the problem is unless it is just that you are annoyed that you didnt think of it yourself?
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  • Profile picture of the author Therese
    Having an ISBN number for a kindle ebook is optional. When you fill in your book details on the kindle site, you are given the option to skip the ISBN field if you don't have a number.
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  • Profile picture of the author GuruGazette
    Once upon a time resell rights meant no changes could be made, and in my world changing the format is making changes.
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    This is a debatable issue. Resell rights are one thing, but what this person has actually done is created a derivative work. Whether your terms expressly prohibited this or not, if you haven't sold that right, your customers don't have it.

    Similarly, if you buy a product with PLR that says you can "edit" it, this does not include the right to translate the product into a new language - which is frequently surprising to people. If you want that right, you have to contact the copyright owner and make sure you can have it. A lot of PLR authors are perfectly fine with that, a lot of others will charge extra for that right, and some few won't give it to you at all.

    You'll need the advice of an attorney as to whether the rights you've given them could be construed to include derivative work rights or not. Chances are you haven't given them that right, so you've probably got the grounds to demand they remove the Kindle book from the market... but, as I said, you'll need to consult an attorney to determine this for sure.
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  • Profile picture of the author mysterrio
    Originally Posted by ebooks4u View Post

    Someone is selling my Ebook (with resell rights) via Amazon's Kindle store. I wonder if this is legal?

    The Ebook comes with resell rights, but I don't know if people can assign an ISBN number for my ebook...

    Do you have any experience with this?
    I found out that Amazon has a number that you can call for seller problems it is: 1-866-216-1072
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    • Profile picture of the author ebooks4u
      Thank you for all your comments. I will state in future ebooks that people can not sell it via the Kindle store.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
        Originally Posted by ebooks4u View Post

        Thank you for all your comments. I will state in future ebooks that people can not sell it via the Kindle store.
        Name them all... ibooks, kindles, ipads, etc. so it's crystal clear.

        What about burning the ebook on a CD and selling it on eBay? Everything needs to be spelled out in your license because people will push the boundaries.
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        • Profile picture of the author paulie888
          Originally Posted by Alan Petersen View Post

          Name them all... ibooks, kindles, ipads, etc. so it's crystal clear.

          What about burning the ebook on a CD and selling it on eBay? Everything needs to be spelled out in your license because people will push the boundaries.
          Hopefully the OP has learned his lesson about precisely spelling out the Master Resale Rights to his product. When it is ambiguous and open to interpretation, you can almost surely expect people to take liberties with how they resell your products.
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          • Profile picture of the author celente
            Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

            Hopefully the OP has learned his lesson about precisely spelling out the Master Resale Rights to his product. When it is ambiguous and open to interpretation, you can almost surely expect people to take liberties with how they resell your products.
            Paulie is totally right.

            Lesson learned. No one really cares anymore, its like if you leave the house unlocked at night, eventally someone will come past and rob it.

            Lesson learned.
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      • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
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        Originally Posted by ebooks4u View Post

        Thank you for all your comments. I will state in future ebooks that people can not sell it via the Kindle store.
        Why do you care if they sell it via Kindle?
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  • Profile picture of the author fgrimes
    All the comments extremely helpful to me I did not know how the whole resale rights work. Now I better understand what exactly I need to do when I finish my book.
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  • Profile picture of the author blackash
    Make it easy on yourself, in your license state that are not allow to modify the ebook this includes changing formating, removing text or images, changing links etc.... and get a lawyer to word it for you, or hire a top of they grade soon to be lawyer.
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  • Profile picture of the author Fun to Write
    This is an interesting case. Books published on Kindle must have author or publisher rights attached.

    Technically, this person did have the legal right to publish on Kindle at the time they uploaded it. As long as your book rights buyer can prove that, you may not have any legal recourse in this case.

    Amazon does have the ability to cross check their database to see if the same book is on their site.

    I have two fiction novels in paperback form on Amazon. They have my POD publisher name attached to them. Although, my contract with that publisher states that I retain full rights to my work and the publisher only has non-exclusive rights.

    So, when I uploaded the Kindle versions of those books on my own, I decided to change the title of one book, so that one sailed through with no problem.

    However, the 2nd book, I used the exact same title, and Amazon wanted me to show proof that I had the legal right to publish a Kindle version. You need to provide them with some kind of legal evidence (contract agreement, etc.). During this time, they'll keep your book on hold status until it is resolved.

    Fortunately, I was able to provide good proof and they have now allowed the Kindle version to go live.

    This shows that publisher and author rights are very important and cannot be overlooked in this day and age. Ebook publishing for Kindle and other electronic reading devices are exploding and will only grow in popularity.

    If you offer resell rights, you better cover your butt and make sure you detail what rights you want people to have. It's also a good idea to go ahead and publish the book on Kindle yourself, before offering it to others with resale rights.
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Murphy
      The bottom line? It is not legal, but there is very little you can do about it..
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      • Profile picture of the author AgentHomes
        Originally Posted by Lady NaNa View Post

        The bottom line? It is not legal, but there is very little you can do about it..
        What you can do is make some minor updates and relaunch your "new updated 2011 edition" and place it on Kindle yourself.

        Hopefully that would cut off sales of the first book and move them to your new edition.
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  • Depends on the rights. If you gave away the Master resell rights, then they are free to sell it anywhere.
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  • Profile picture of the author pmbrent
    If you provided the ebook with resell rights, they are pretty much free to do whatever they want with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    Why would you want to limit your sales with such a restriction? Why not just add your domain name in a few areas of any ebook you write. Then it still has value no matter where they sell it. So long as they don't change it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    I've been wondering when this would start to happen. There has been an infusion of IM courses teaching people to get ebooks with either PLR or resell rights then sell the books though Kindle, Createspace, epub, Nook, etc.

    With many people trying to sell the same book on the same website - Amazon or Barnes & Nobel, it was only a matter of time before problems would begin.

    And it is only going to get worse! The other day I listened to yet another webinar trying to sell people a Kindle course. A number of people buy these courses, a few of those people will actually take action, and Kindle chaos begins.

    I think the only "safe" way is to completely rewrite the PLR - sentence by sentence - and add additonal written material (your own material) to the rewritten book to make it so different there will not be any question as to who actually wrote the book.

    :-Don
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    • Profile picture of the author Lea Karana
      Do you have to specifically say "do not publish on kindle" in your terms?

      I don't think i did that with mine :confused:



      Lea
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  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    Good thread. If you create an ebook you own the copyright. "Copyright" is really a collection of "rights" you own in your property and which restrict what others can do with it.

    You can sell or license some or all of those rights. Including the right to resell the product.

    This is where it is important to be precise in what you are allowing others to do.

    "Resell rights". What does that mean?

    I'll guess the original ebook is in pdf format. I believe that format has to be changed to a "Kindle format" to be sold for use on the Kindle.

    Generally, I would say a format change is not included in resell rights. All one has the right to resell is what they have. But read this post in full.

    The product owner may allow resell rights for a pdf, but reserve for themselves the right to sell physical copies, Kindle versions, etc.

    One reason could be that how the product is viewed, such as fonts, font sizes, etc., is better controlled by the product creator in a pdf. But on the Kindle that user can change some of that. Depending on the product, that could be significant, or immaterial.

    On the other hand, it could be argued the resell right is to a digital product and a digital product is being resold. Just in a newer technological format. The buyer of the resell rights may consider this entirely appropriate.

    And, significantly, what if tomorrow pdf files could be sold and viewed on the Kindle due to a software upgrade on the device? Should that change anything?

    Is the OP complaining about a different format, or that they did not anticipate someone using Amazon, the Kindle, or making a certain amount of money and it is a jealousy issue?

    In other words, should the OP have a claim dependent on what technology Amazon happens to use to display the digital product, which could vary day by day? What if Amazon has an auto conversion process on their end?

    I won't proclaim to have an absolute answer. But I will stick with a general rule of thumb that resell rights do not include format changes. You can resell on what you have, in that format, without change.

    Best practice: To avoid confusion and issues like this, if there is something you do not want someone with resell rights to do, spell it out. Even if it seems obvious to you that something is not allowed, it may not be obvious to someone else.

    ISBN issue. This is unrelated to copyright. However, every different format for a publication: pdf, Kindle, epub, etc., should have a different ISBN number.

    PLR issue. Entirely different animal.
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    • Profile picture of the author marianrivera
      Clearly explained, thanks for sharing these thoughts.
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  • I really think you'd struggle to sell a resell rights product on the Kindle.

    PLR, no problem, because you have enough power to edit the book and format it to make it look right.

    But, just taking a PDF and assuming it will format well on the Kindle is asking for trouble. If nothing else, this will be missing many of the standard sections that differentiate a Kindle book from one sold as a downloadable ebook.

    It's bad business too, as all the sections of text that end up badly formatted and all the images that are misaligned, create a very poor impression on a reader. That equates to bad reviews and refunds.

    If you were the original author of the resale rights product, and this 'book' is out there with your name on it and all these problems, in can create badwill towards your wider business.

    Definitely an issue that more publishers should be aware of.

    Thom
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  • Profile picture of the author lukehunt
    The licenses that most of these ebooks I see aren't worth the .txt file it is written on.

    If you want to protect yourself you should copyright your book and issue a detailed license agreement. A copyright was $38 last time I did it.

    You won't be able to seek any recovery from revenue losses unless you get it legalized.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by lukehunt View Post

      A copyright was $38 last time I did it.
      A copyright is free, every time everyone does it. It isn't something you buy. It's something that comes into existence automatically on the completion of the work. What you're actually talking about here is a copyright registration (different animal altogether), to be able to produce evidence of ownership of the copyright in the event that the need may arise in future. That's a different matter (and by the way there are other, equally acceptable and equally legally valid - albeit maybe sometimes less convenient - ways of evidencing it). Just saying. You weren't paying the $38 for the copyright itself: you already owned that.
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      • Profile picture of the author garyv
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        A copyright is free, every time everyone does it. It isn't something you buy. It's something that comes into existence automatically on the completion of the work. What you're actually talking about here is a copyright registration (different animal altogether), to be able to produce evidence of ownership of the copyright in the event that the need may arise in future. That's a different matter (and by the way there are other, equally acceptable and equally legally valid - albeit maybe sometimes less convenient - ways of evidencing it). Just saying. You weren't paying the $38 for the copyright itself: you already owned that.
        I've never heard it explained so clearly. You should become a lawyer.

        But seriously, you have an excellent way of wording things.
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        • Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

          there are other, equally acceptable and equally legally valid - albeit maybe sometimes less convenient - ways of evidencing it
          The 'poor man's' version: Make a hard copy, send it to yourself via registered mail, and then store it somewhere unopened.

          Originally Posted by garyv View Post

          But seriously, you have an excellent way of wording things.
          That probably explains why she is a professional writer. :p
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      • Profile picture of the author lukehunt
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        A copyright is free, every time everyone does it. It isn't something you buy. It's something that comes into existence automatically on the completion of the work. What you're actually talking about here is a copyright registration (different animal altogether), to be able to produce evidence of ownership of the copyright in the event that the need may arise in future. That's a different matter (and by the way there are other, equally acceptable and equally legally valid - albeit maybe sometimes less convenient - ways of evidencing it). Just saying. You weren't paying the $38 for the copyright itself: you already owned that.
        Without a legal copyright you can never really prove ownership of the document and you could never seek action against me if I started selling something that you wrote.

        PayPal also doesn't care about helping you unless it is real copyright. I actually had the problem of someone stealing my stuff before and I always get a real copyright now.
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  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    I once proved copyright ownership to ebay by using the wayback machine... Internet Archive Wayback Machine
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    What you really should be saying is "instead of allowing Resell rights or any rights at all to any of my future products I will put them up on Kindle myself and reap the benefits"

    Doesn't mean you cannot have more than one selling point that you own yourself, heck you can even create your very own competition that you also own.

    Start thinking outside of the box and consider this person as giving you a lesson in selling and getting things done without delay. If you understand that then this guy who put the book up on Kindle actually made you more money with this action.
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  • Profile picture of the author Boon20
    Hi , If you have an agreement of not changing the book any way then it is possible for any one to change , you have the right to consult registration authority officials and discuss the problem . I think it will be better for you .
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