Policing Plagiarism

As I wrote in a previous post, author Ruth Ann Nordin (among others) is having a problem with plagiarism. As reported here, Ms. Nordin is still having trouble with piracy. A third book of hers has been stolen and fraudulently offered for sale, and Amazon is apparently not responding with alacrity.

Why is this important to you? If you’re an author, the answer is obvious: it could just as easily happen to you. If you’re a reader, and you enjoy certain authors’ books, you’ll want them to continue writing the books you love. And the only way they can afford to do that is if they get paid for the work they do. When thieves steal an author’s work, the author doesn’t get paid. On Monday I wrote about celebrating our freedom of expression. This is one area where freedom is rightfully restricted. Theft is not one of the rights protected by the constitution.

Policing such theft as a merchant is difficult, but that doesn’t mean that Amazon or any other online retailer can ignore the problem. Amazon has been sufficiently non-responsive that Ms. Nordin is seeking legal counsel. Sadly, large corporations are often slow to change until a problem starts costing them money. But there is another weapon at our disposal: Social pressure. As Passive Guy asks, those who care about authors’ rights can write to copyright@amazon.com, to request they improve their policies, their response times, and their self-policing procedures.

Amazon is a leader in online book sales. It’s time they lead.

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