Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks Debacle

pirates-bill-davenportI’m sitting here shaking with anger and disbelief.

The other day, I decided to make a few tweaks to my long-standing free story, A Summer Fling, with a view to making it exclusive to Amazon. No big deal, right? The only other place it was offered was Smashwords and All Romance Ebooks–also for free.

Last night, I received an alarming email from Amazon asking me to prove copyright or face permanent ban from publishing there again. Shocked, I consulted friends, who assured me this wasn’t that unusual and that it was probably in view of recent incidents of several people in my genre being impersonated online. I sent the required information back to Amazon and went to bed thinking it was over.

Imagine my surprise when I get a response from Amazon KDP that states due to an undisclosed third party claiming copyright, and their policy not to get involved in third party disputes, they have chosen not to publish my story. A story that had been on their site for three years. A story that is MINE.

Who could this mysterious third party be, hmmm? I have no proof, but I have suspicions. Which retailer–RETAILER, mind you, not publisher–recently massively screwed authors over by closing their doors with four days notice, sending an email out offering an insulting 10 cents on the dollar for owed royalties only on the promise that the author didn’t sue? Which retailer then allegedly told some authors they were holding the files of stories previously offered for sale on their site for the next seven years for tax purposes? Which retailer allegedly began manipulating sales data to reflect even less royalties owed than just 24 hours before? And which retailer has been accused of improperly reporting sales data in the past, and prevented authors from removing their books from the site (you could only inactivate them) while the allegations of unethical and illegal actions keep piling up?

Lori James and All Romance Ebooks, that’s who.

Let me just say this: the sum owed me initially wasn’t very large. I only had a few self-published titles with them. I’m not worried about the possibility of James or anyone else laying claim to my Dreamspinner Press titles–I know DSP will defend them. And after I neglected to capture the data in time (the download links would not work and I could only make screen caps of the info) and my reported royalties dropped by 2/3 with no way of proving it, I decided I would let it go. While some people may have signed publishing contracts with ARe, they merely hosted my self-published stories. They were not the publisher on record–I am.

summer_fling-200x300But now SOMEONE is disputing copyright on a story I created and published myself. Someone has stolen not only my past income but threatening my future income. A Summer Fling is a lightweight little story written for the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads back in 2011. It’s not a story worth fighting over. But my other self-published titles once hosted by All Romance, books I can no longer retrieve from the site, ARE worth fighting for. So while I once considered letting this battle go, I can’t AFFORD To close my eyes to this. The possibility that someone associated with All Romance intends to set up shop again under another name, selling books they are not entitled to sell, is frightening.

For the most complete summation of the extent of fraud perpetrated by the management of ARe–and more importantly, what you can do to prevent them from getting away with this scott-free, please check out this valuable post: Publisher All Romance: Closing Hits New Low in Stealing from Authors. The details in this post are jaw-dropping. If these allegations are true, then criminal charges need to be filed.

So if you have been a victim of the recent actions of All Romance Ebooks, I invite you to file a report with the  Florida Attorney General’s Office and The Department of Justice for Internet Crimes. Please spread the word to anyone you know who may be affected by this. If you are an author living in another country, please look into filing fraud charges in your country, making this an international crime.

In the meantime, I’ve put A Summer Fling back up on Smashwords. Snag a copy. Enjoy. And if you wouldn’t mind leaving a review, that would be helpful. But if you BUY this book anywhere online–you’ve been ripped off too.

Part Two Here

Part Three Here

EDIT: After having accepted that I am the copyright holder of A Summer Fling, Amazon’s position was that I did not have clear publishing rights to the story, based on the takedown notice of the third party they refused to name. After reviewing all the material I sent them, including the ARe agreement showing that they did not retain publishing rights to my self-published stories, Amazon/KDP still declined to reinstate A Summer Fling and advised me to hire a copyright lawyer if I wished to pursue the case further.

I’d been in contact with the publisher of the anthology in which A Summer Fling first appeared, and she took it upon herself to contact Amazon on my behalf. I also forwarded all my conversations with KDP and my documentation to Jeff Bezos. I asked only that the third party be named so I would know if I was dealing with a misunderstanding versus grounds for a lawsuit.

On 1/5/17, without any explanation other than on further review, they decided to reverse their decision, Amazon has reinstated A Summer Fling back on its listings. Heck, it’s even a freebie again.

I’ll probably never know for sure what changed their minds. Could it have been the amount of noise I made? Being contacted both by Al Jazeera and a Tampa reporter wishing to interview authors affected by the abrupt closure and failure of ARe to pay owed royalties? Was this all due to a misinterpretation of my rights to the story? Or did Mr. Bezos have someone review my detailed information and reverse the decision? There’s no way to tell. If this is the only incident of this nature, I’ll chalk it up to experience and a lesson learned about protecting the right to publish my own stories.

If it happens again with one of my self-published stories, there is only one party that could even remotely attempt to contest my publishing rights–and then I’ll have my answer, won’t I?

85 thoughts on “Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks Debacle

  1. Fucking hell on fucking ice skates. What the everlasting FUCK?! ARe had no rights to anything on there. They were a bloody storefront!

    Change the title and resubmit it. Let fucking Lori James prove she has any bloody claim to it.

    Jeeze – this has made me a little angry.

    • Your assessment is correct–it was simply a storefront. Apparently the reason she gave for removing the option that allowed authors to delete their files (rather than merely inactivate them) was that for ‘tax purposes’, she had to retain the files for 7 years.

      However, whoever is after my story on Amazon is actively pursuing it as a copyright violation. This isn’t just some glitch or red flag on Amazon’s part. At least they’ve stopped threatening me with a lifetime ban. I’m attempting to get more information out of them as to who this third party is and what proof are they giving.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks DebacleMy Profile

  2. This just gets worse and worse. I thought I was safe, given I’d inactivated all my titles at ARe, but your story proves I’m not safe at all. 🙁

    I didn’t have a chance to remove the titles from the site before it disappeared yesterday. Now I wonder what she plans to do with my books!
    Theo Fenraven recently posted..Countdown Begins!My Profile

    • I don’t know for sure ARe is behind it, but it *does* seem most likely. Your typical thief doesn’t challenge your copyright–that calls too much attention to themselves. They either swap out your story for another cover/name and hope no one notices or they steal your name and post their own crappy stories.

      For someone to challenge my copyright over a simple little story, they MUST have bigger fish to fry. Either it’s personal (which is disturbing) or they have a much larger agenda in mind. How could it be worth it otherwise?
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks DebacleMy Profile

  3. If you have filed the copyright with the copyright office, you are the ONLY person who can legally state you own the copyright. The only way Lori James can say she holds the copyright for your story is if she filed the copyright with the copyright office, in which case, you need to file a claim with the copyright office and contest her that states she did not create the work.

    What proof did you provide to Amazon when they asked for it? This happened to me recently, as well, when I made an update to one of my books. I replied with the Registration ID# from my copyright certificate, and the next day, my book went live without a hitch.

  4. Perhaps you’re referring to publishing rights, not copyrights. If that’s the case, then yes, you can’t publish anywhere until Lori releases the publishing rights back to you. Which can be done if she really wants to do it. If she insists she can’t, she’s an even more heartless, cold beyatch than I originally thought. But she can only withhold publishing rights for books published under ARe’s publishing program. If the books were uploaded to ARe by self-publishers, she has no publishing rights to prohibit publishing the books elsewhere, because no contract was signed giving her publishing rights.

  5. This is my biggest nightmare. But if Amazon won’t reveal who files a copyright claim, how can you ever hope to resolve it “offline”? I wonder if it’s like YouTube and the claim can expire.

    • They didn’t buy the rights. They were merely a site where I uploaded a completed file for sale. Even their own term under which I put my indie stories on their website states these stories are mine. It is only recently, with the inability of authors to delete their files from the website and the sudden challenge of my copyright, that I have to wonder if the real reason ARe would not let authors permanently remove their files from the site is not for purported ‘tax purposes’, but because they either intend to hold the files as hostages for good behavior (take the settlement, don’t pursue legal action) or because they intend to set up shop again under another name.

  6. Since Amazon says that it was “an undisclosed third party claiming copyright,” why do you believe it’s Lori James/ARe? This is a common scam that hits indie author, though typically Amazon will tell you the third party and tell you to settle it between yourselves.

    • Because usually people trying to scam your stories steal them and post them under their own name. They don’t contact Amazon and dispute your copyright, they are trying to fly under the radar and not get noticed. Usually the way you find out about it is a sharp-eyed fan lets you know someone has stolen a story! More recently, several M/M authors had their *names* stolen and people were falsely selling stories under the stolen name. At first, I thought this was what caused Amazon to ask for proof of copyright.

      The only way it makes sense for someone to challenge me in this way is if the person behind this has a bigger plan than just stealing a simple story. But I’m waiting for Amazon to tell me who this third party is. :/ But when you look at the places where this story was available, and the recent actions of ARe, it’s hard not consider the two events aren’t related.

      • One wonders why Amazon is so reluctant to disclose the third party’s contact information. If authors are supposed to “resolve these conflicts offline”, how is one to do that without knowing who to contact?

        The stink grows deeper and more putrescent.

  7. Out of curiosity, and you do not have to answer, were you an author that refused her settlement of $0.10 on the dollar? Is this her retribution? Whether the answer is yes or no, read the statute here http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0817/0817.html

    There might be legal recourse in pressing criminal charges. Another option would be to try to assemble all the authors affected and consult an attorney to see if you can ask benefit from a class action suit.

    Scheme to defraud” means a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.

      • I’m not actually affected that I know of, but I find this whOle ARe situation disgusting. Someone needs to take her down and fast before she sets up new shop somewhere else.

        Also, is she claiming publishing rights in an attempt to set herself up to sue amazon? I don’t believe amazon has a page of terms that have to be accepted before books go live that gives them publishing rights. Did ARe have a terms page for acceptance? If the authors gave her publishing rights, and amazon continues to sell those books, does she have a legal right to sure them or the author for using Amazon simultaneously? I wouldn’t put anything past her.

    • Yes, I am one of the authors that refused the settlement. I can’t answer as to whether this is retribution–I suspect I’m really too small potatoes for that. If indeed this is ARe attempting to make a copyright grab–I think this is just the beginning for them. But until Amazon tells me who is behind this, I’m just speculating. Then problem is, the average thief doesn’t challenge the real copyright holder unless they’ve got a bigger plan. That’s why ARe comes to mind first.

  8. Copyright in the United States and most of Europe is conferred upon creation of the document, but publication of the story. You don’t really need to file copyright documentation anymore. The Berne Convention (http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/summary_berne.html) protects those rights internationally. For Lori James and ARe to dispute copyright, that’s climbing up a whole other tree of illegality. Since your work has been at Amazon for three years, clearing up copyright should be a simple matter, particularly if you had editing, formatting, cover art, or other contract work done prior to publication. What I find puzzling is that Amazon would suddenly pull belief in you as the copyright holder after three years of sales. Did you use an ARe platform to originally publish your book? She can’t have had the exclusive publishing and distribution rights to your work, as it has been up at Smashwords and Amazon for several years. If you pursue this through Amazon, and I strongly advise you to do so, they should be able to provide you with the information regarding the dispute. If the dispute persists, then it’s time to get an IP attorney on the case. Disputation of copyright is a dangerous limb for anyone to walk out on. That can cost the wrongdoer a LOT of money. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

    • Thanks, K.Z.

      I forwarded Amazon the Smashwords URL that shows the story was posted there before I posted it to ARe. But that’s assuming ARe is behind it. Granted, they are a logical choice, given their unethical behavior recently, but I’m still waiting for Amazon to tell me who is behind the allegations.

      Amazon has accepted I wrote the story. They are saying someone disputes my right to distribute it. The number of potential claimants in such a case is VERY small. As in two. And one of them is ARe.

      They also have no write to claim publishing rights on a story they merely hosted on their website.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks DebacleMy Profile

  9. Is this a book that was included in one of the goodreads’ group’s volumes that the organizer pubbed for free online? I only ask because I know I wrote a little bit of nothing for that group in 2011 and they’d taken it and pubbed it for free.

    I also know that Amazon has been very hard core with proving rights lately. I wonder if they’re getting pissy because the story is in another set somewhere?

    • Yes, it was part of the GR group anthology, but this is not a case of Amazon cracking down on proving rights. This is what Amazon sent me: “Prior to your submission, we received a notice and takedown for a book that matches to yours, from a third party claiming that the distribution of the book above was not properly authorized due to copyright infringement.”

      So someone out there is ACTIVELY claiming this work belongs to them, not me, and though I provided Amazon with all the information they requested, it’s not good enough. Moreover, this attempt to snag the book took place prior to my making changes, so it isn’t that I did something to trigger a red flag. Someone is trying to steal it, but Amazon is laying the burden of proof on me and refusing to publish something that’s been on their website under my name for years. At least they are no longer threatening to ban me for life. I’ve asked for more information, but I have not heard back from them yet. 🙁

  10. I’m not directly affected, all my titles there were through Dreamspinner, but I ~almost~ published my MMF story “Homecoming” there before deciding on KU instead — luck of the draw, really, and wow, while I’m glad I dodged the bullet I am absolutely horrified by what you and other authors are dealing with.

    Sadly I’m not convinced people are going to get much either out of ARe bankruptcy or suing James.

    Honestly authors need our own distribution system — in the same way AO3 was begun so fans could own the servers. I dunno. This just highlights our vulnerability. :/

    • I’m not worried about the potential loss of one story (though it burns me up inside) but if the same move is made on my other works?? One of those titles is my all-time bestseller.

      I hear a lot of authors talking about distributing their stories through something called Payhip now. Might be worth checking out.

    • Aw, thank you! I don’t have confirmation that ARe is behind this move, but it’s hard to think otherwise until Amazon tells me who is contesting my copyright. Their recent behavior, as well as the timing of the disputed title, are highly suspicious.

  11. Hi Sarah. Like you, I’ve been asked to provide copyright ownership on one of my Indie books by Amazon. I sent them a photo of the copyright and date of when I copyrighted it with the Copyright office. I also sent in the Bowker ISBN number I used (I don’t use Amazon’s), too. They came back the next day and said fine, that I was clearly the owner of the book and I was allowed to sell it through that platform. I’ve never been asked since then, to prove one of the other books I’ve written belonged to me.

    I’m hoping that you have copyrighted your books? I think in today’s climate it’s the only shield an Indie has against getting her books stolen, abused, misused, is to get them copyrighted. A Bowker ISBN just adds icing on this cake in the author’s favor, too. These are ways an author can protect her or his property and rights. Most of us don’t have the money to hire a Copyright attorney, so these two above steps are about all we have, I’ve seen copyright protect an Indie in another situation with. She had copyrighted her books which had been stolen, put under a new title, new author and new cover, and get them back, shut down the person who did it and receive compensation from them as well. If a book is copyrighted, you DO have legal legs to stand on and you CAN take it to court. Or in this case of yours with Amazon, send them a shot of the copyright on it. Without copyright ownership proof, an author has no legal legs to stand on, unfortunately. It becomes a “he said, she said.”

    It costs $55.00 to Copyright, and if you have a bunch of books (doesn’t matter the number of books or their length) that need to be copyrighted, you can do all of them at once for this one price. It’s the best $55.00 an Indie author can spend in my personal experience.
    https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov

    I wish you the best because the most painful thing imho, is having one’s work stolen. It’s not right. Ever. My fingers are crossed for you. If I can be of any help or support? Let me know. Lindsay McKenna

    • Thank you, Lindsay.

      Unfortunately, I had not taken the extra step and expense of registering this story with the copyright office. I have *now* but of course, barn. Horse. Door.

      I also can’t afford an attorney. But you can bet your bottom dollar all future works will be copyrighted. It won’t be the end of the world if I lose the ability to sell this story. It was always meant to be a freebie. But if the person I suspect is behind this attempts this with other titles, then we *are* talking about a major financial impact here. I’ve filed copyrights on those stories, and encourage everyone out there to take your sound advice here.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks DebacleMy Profile

      • I can’t afford an attorney either ;-). Most of us can’t. But the Copyright DOES protect to a high degree. And if Amazon questions you or anyone in the future about a book being owned by you? That Copyright gives you a distinct and clear advantage and in my opinion, it’s the ONLY thing that Amazon recognizes as that book belonging to you, and not someone else. And they will defer in your favor. Being an Indie publisher is a steep, hard learning curve. And mistakes will happen. But the smart Indie, such as yourself, will only let it happen once. I’m thrilled to hear you are copyrighting everything that doesn’t move that you’ve written 😉

        • Unfortunately, ‘after careful review’ of my case, Amazon is taking the position they cannot re-publish the story. They believe I wrote it. They are saying someone contests my right to *distribute* it. The list of potential claimants in that case is very short. Two as a matter of fact. One party has assured me they will contact Amazon and make sure there hasn’t been a mistake–but they didn’t file a takedown notice.

          The other party is ARe.

          So I doubt that even had I pre-registered the story, it would have made a difference. Someone is saying I signed my rights to it away. I did not.
          Sarah Madison recently posted..Defending Copyright on “A Summer Fling”: Part 3My Profile

    • I think it’s important to make it clear that no one has to do anything to get the initial copyright on their work. It’s conferred automatically, according to law, as soon as the words are written down. You can defend your ownership in court without doing anything else. What the poster above is referring to is “registering the copyright”, which provides additional rights, such as the ability to sue for damages. This circular from the copyright office is pretty easy to understand: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf&ved=0ahUKEwiI98zo6KXRAhWh7IMKHUX2ClAQFggaMAA&usg=AFQjCNEYz9Egp_tJfB4Zo5FMBSRdDIe-9A&sig2=GgnUN-COFLS6oYnzUtUx3g

      • You are absolutely correct here. However, part of my desire to share my experience is to show how easily someone can challenge your copyright and have Amazon not accept the very information they required for proof. Having one of the largest markets refuse to publish your work is a big deal. Taking that extra step to register my copyright could have made a difference. I won’t really know until I can to the bottom of this. 🙁

        • Has amazon rejected the proof you supplied, or are you just waiting to hear back from them, now that you have given them proof? Sorry if you said that above and I missed it. Amazon’s wheels are soooo slow.

          • This is the initial notice I received from Amazon: “Prior to your submission, we received a notice and takedown for a book that matches to yours, from a third party claiming that the distribution of the book above was not properly authorized due to copyright infringement.”

            So someone is actively trying to block the sale of my story. Amazon asked for very specific information, which I provided. After I provided the information, Amazon was no longer threatening to ban my account for life, but they said they could not publish the book because the copyright was in dispute. I’m still waiting for Amazon to tell me who is the disputing party. But through a process of elimination–and the suspicious timing–ARe is my number one suspect.
            Sarah Madison recently posted..Authors Be Warned: The Ongoing Impact of the All Romance Ebooks DebacleMy Profile

      • Sophie Kisker wrote, “…You can defend your ownership in court without doing anything else.”

        I respectfully disagree.

        In reality, creatives MUST (timely) register their works with the US Copyright Office to fully defend/enforce their copy/rights.

        The link you shared (the “Copyright Registration” section, Page 7) also addresses legal standing (the right to sue for copyright infringement in federal court): “Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.”

        Also see 17 USC § 411 (Registration and civil infringement actions): “…no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title.”

        If your work has been infringed and you contact a copyright (litigator) attorney for assistance, her first question to you: “Sophie, did you timely register your copyright?”

        Without that copyright Certificate of Registration in-hand (in most US jurisdictions), authors have limited to no leverage to force infringers to make financial restitution. Typically, very few cases proceed all the way to trial; most are dropped or settled. Notwithstanding Fair Use and other affirmative defenses to copyright infringement, with a timely registration in-hand, the author’s attorney has leverage to push the infringer to (quickly) settle out of court. If the infringer chooses not to settle, s/he can now be liable for enhanced statutory money damages and plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs (vs. actual damages & disgorgement of profits [if any!] without a timely filed registration).

        Though an author may not need a copyright registration to file a DMCA “Take-Down” notice, if the alleged website infringer files a counter-notice, the author will then need that registration to file suit and get the unlicensed work removed. Using the eCO registration procedure, it’s currently taking up to 10-months for the copyright application to clear and the Certificate mailed to the author. If litigation if pending, the author can expedite this registration process (approx. one-week) for an additional $800!

        Though copyright is granted automatically to original, fixed works of authorship, in the end, writers, artists, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, and other independent/freelance art media professionals must register their works to have any real chance to defend/enforce their copy/rights.

        Out of curiosity, I searched the US Copyright Office’s on-line database, but didn’t see any registrations filed under your name for your erotic novels. Please tell me if I’m mistaken. By registering your novels BEFORE publication or WITHIN five-years of first publication, you prove to a federal judge that you have valid copyrights and that you authored your novels (prima facie evidence/presumptive proof–also listed on Page 7 of your link).

    • Lindsay McKenna wrote, “I’m hoping that you have copyrighted your books? I think in today’s climate it’s the only shield an Indie has against getting her books stolen, abused, misused, is to get them copyrighted.”

      It’s best not to use the word “copyrighting.” Copyright is automatic. The correct term is “registering” your copyrights (with the US Copyright Office).

      Lindsay McKenna also wrote, “It costs $55.00 to Copyright, and if you have a bunch of books (doesn’t matter the number of books or their length) that need to be copyrighted, you can do all of them at once for this one price. It’s the best $55.00 an Indie author can spend in my personal experience.
      https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov”

      To be clear, you can “group-register” an un-limited number of UN-published (literary) works in one Standard $55 (eCO aka “e-Filing”) Application.

      You can also group-register an un-limited number of published works in the Standard Application if they were all published simultaneously (same date) AND in the same unit of publication (a newspaper/magazine/website first-publishes ten of your poems, short stories, etc. in the same issue).

      If you just need to register a single work (one novel or one story or one poem, etc.) where you’re the sole author (copyright owner) that’s not part of a work-for-hire arrangement, use the Single $35 (eCO) Application.

      You can NOT mix published and un-published works in the same application—each has to be separated into their own copyright registration application.

      Though not recommended, authors can also register their works using the paper form at $85. Unless your copyright attorney or the Copyright Office instructs you otherwise, use the eCO to complete your copyright registration application.

      As of January 5, 2017, it can take 6 to 10 months to process and mail your Certificate of Registration to you (using the paper forms, the processing time runs from 10 to 15 months).

      Here are better Copyright Office links to explain what works can be grouped-registered via (multiple works) vs. the Single $35 (eCO) Application (one work): http://www.copyright.gov/fls/sl04s.pdf

      Copyright Office’s eCO (electronic Copyright Office) Registration Tutorials:

      Single Application: http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial-single.pdf
      Standard Application: http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial-standard.pdf

      SPECIAL NOTES: “Publication” has a special meaning in copyright law. According to http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-definitions.html:

      “Publication is the distribution of copies or phonorecords [CDs, cassette tapes, MP3s] of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication. Generally, publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first made available to the public.”

      According to Rob Kasunic, Director of Registration Policy and Practices at the U.S. Copyright Office,

      “The [Copyright] Office STRONGLY [emphasis added] encourages creators [artists, authors, painters, photographers, etc.] to register their works BEFORE [emphasis added] they are published, because this avoids much of the confusion concerning [what is considered published verses what is considered un-published] publication and the treatment of published works.” Source: http://copyrightalliance.org/education/faqs/copyright-registration/

  12. I smell a class action lawsuit because you cannot be the only author in this situation with ARe. I’m hearing horror stories all over the place. I think the authors impacted would be wise to band together and talk to legal counsel. This is so unjust and I’m so sorry many of my fellow authors are going through this. When I began to self-publish, I considered listing with ARe and something in my gut dissuaded me from doing so. I hope this gets straightened out quickly for you all.

  13. I could not get into my account any more (I never uploaded titles) but I did manage to find a cached version of their publishing terms of agreement. They state clearly they do not own copyright, and in the event of bankruptcy all rights revert immediately to the publisher (who is defined as the person uploading the content, i.e. the author). I know what they say and what they do are 2 different things 🙁

    “(b) Except as otherwise set forth in this Agreement, All Romance acknowledges that all rights, title and interest in and to all intellectual property comprising the Works, including copyrights and trademarks used in connection with the Works, are the property of Publisher or its licensor(s), and in no event, including upon the termination of this Agreement, shall All Romance obtain any rights, title or interest in such intellectual property, copyrights or trademarks.”

    https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:DFva5uY-69wJ:https://www.allromanceebooks.com/termsOfAgreement.html+&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    • Thanks–I posted the entire form in subsequent blog posts on this subject–but as of 1/5/17, Amazon welcomes me to publish future titles, but it does not believe I have clear rights to distribute A Summer Fling.

      They refuse to tell me who the third party claiming distribution rights is or what the basis of their claim is without involving a copyright lawyer. I am seriously considering doing this, just to get the name of the third party.

      The list of potential claimants to distribution rights is VERY short. As in two parties. One of them is ARe.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Defending Copyright on “A Summer Fling”: Part 3My Profile

  14. OMG! SUCKS! I hope you hear back from Amazon. I wonder if its someone using the same title? And really strange considering that the story was up for sale, by you, on Amazon before this started. Did you have a screenshot to show them of when you uploaded to Amazon originally?

    • I gave Amazon every possible detail, including the original files with the date stamp on them. They are refusing to get involved, refusing to divulge the name of the accusing third party or the basis of their claim against me, and have advised me to hire a copyright lawyer if I wish to proceed further. I can’t afford to do that over a free story. I’m considering filing a counter claim in order to find out who is behind this. 🙁

  15. John W. Mashni, entertainment attorney with Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, writes, “We encourage all content creators, including authors, producers, businesses, musicians, filmmakers, organizations, photographers, and freelancers to register all of their copyrighted materials to take advantage of the benefits that registration provides”: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=72fa2637-e8bc-41b1-a327-fdbd56658739.

    Watch Gordon Firemark, a Los Angeles entertainment attorney, explain “When Should You Register Your Copyrights”: https://youtu.be/Zg1laoSKXc0

    • Thank you. I appreciate your valuable input here–hopefully it will serve as a source for other authors. I did register the copyright, but after the fact. Here’s the rub, however. After extensive wrangling with Amazon, they no longer dispute that I am the author of A Summer Fling. What they are saying is disputes my right to distribute the story.

      The list of people who could even REMOTELY claim this is small. An earlier version of the story was part of a free anthology in 2011. The anthology people have had nothing to do with this, though they have said they would go to bat with Amazon on my behalf to make sure there is no misunderstanding. But they didn’t even know I’d changed the title of the story and they didn’t file a takedown notice. The story was self-published and placed on three websites: Smashwords, Amazon, and All Romance Ebooks. Amazon didn’t send themselves a takedown notice. Smashwords does not dispute my right to distribute this story. That only leaves one retailer–one that has acted in a manner that eliminates the possibility of trust. I did NOT use ARe’s publishing services. I merely uploaded my files to their website. But I strongly suspect this is the source of the dispute, given the manner in which ARe has shut its doors and is refusing to pay authors the full amount of owed 4th quarter royalties–offering only 10 cents on the dollar but only IF the author refuses to pursue them in a lawsuit.

      Amazon is saying I signed away my rights to distribute this story, which I never did. I can only think of ONE entity who would attempt to claim that I have. Unfortunately, Amazon will not reveal the name of the third party without my hiring a copyright lawyer.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Defending Copyright on “A Summer Fling”: Part 3My Profile

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