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As e-book sales continue to climb and e-book readers become more advanced, individuals are looking to see how they can make money in this new market. According to an article by The Atlantic Wire back in September of 2011, “authors love them [e-books] because e-books empower them to cut out publishers,” but this attitude may be changing.
E-books can be easily self-published and this accessibility has led to some authors selling their books only in e-book format. However, it has also led many “authors” to publish and make money off of content that is not theirs.
Koozai’s search specialist, Mike Essex, found that “many e-book vendors don’t check copyright on works that are submitted.” Essex has even observed some Kindle “authors” who claim to have written “thousands of books in a single year.” Manuel Ortiz Braschi has published well-known titles such as Alice in Wonderland and over 3,000 other titles on amazon.com.
Sharazade (a pen-name for a freelance writer, teacher, and editor) told Adam Penenberg of fastcompany.com that she found an individual going by the name of Maria Cruz who had 40 plus erotica titles for sale on amazon.com, all of which were stolen. This same “author” even copy-pasted Bram Stoker’s Dracula as an e-book entitled Dracula’s Amazing Adventure.
The source Sharazade is also a member of literotica.com and she found that many of Cruz’s “stories” were actually previously published works from literotica.com. Writers who publish their material on literotica.com do not get any type of compensation for their work and numerous members prefer to remain anonymous so their erotic writing does not effect other areas of their life.
When more and more “authors” on amazon.com were found to have stolen stories from literotica.com, as well as other sites, and published them under different titles, Sharazade spoke to a few of the real writers. She received mixed responses ranging from some being flattered to some being so angry they threatened violence. One writer, David Weaver, put many an author’s feelings into words: “What makes this type of theft so insidious is how easy it is to get away with and avoid getting caught.”
Essex and Sharazade point out that these individuals who publish dozens of stolen books every day are not caught. Even when complaints are eventually filed by an observant or upset customer, the e-books are taken down but almost instantly re-uploaded under a different author or title.
A simple way for e-book sellers and buyers to check the originality of a product is to run it through a site such as turnitin.com, which some college classes use to make sure students’ papers are their own and not taken from the internet. Hoever, this precaution is rarely used by large corporations such as Amazon, and anything can effectively be traded.
Essex did his own confirmation experiment in which he published an e-book that repeated the lyrics of “This is the Song That Never Ends” for 700 pages. He has yet to receive any sort of response from Amazon.