Authors Without A Yacht (AWaY) discussion

How You Can Help > Sign the eBay VeRo petition!

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message 1: by Brenna (new)

Brenna Lyons (BrennaLyons) | 93 comments Mod
Readers, writers, and industry professionals are all welcome to sign this petition to request changes in the VeRO program from eBay. It's a simple thing that will help authors enforce their copyrights on eBay.

What's it all about? eBay has a system called VeRo in place to combat piracy, but with a few improvements, it could be functional...beyond functional, actually. What we're asking for is simple. It's just a couple of simple rule changes and a database for rights owners. With these things, authors can make eBay safe for readers and for authors.

Feel free to read it, see if you agree with it, and sign it if you do. Oh, permission to pass is granted. Go for it.

message 2: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Lender (fantasyauthorsandylender) | 5 comments Mod
The link "broke". Here's the one that worked:

That takes you to: Open Letter to eBay and CEO about VeRO Improvements

That's where to read and, if comfortable, sign the petition.
Thanks, everyone,
Sandy Lender

message 3: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Lender (fantasyauthorsandylender) | 5 comments Mod
I made a tinyurl in the event that one breaks or something goes screwy due to the length of the address.

From Sandy Lender

message 4: by Rowena, Group Owner (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 685 comments Mod
Are we Tweeting the petition?

message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Lender (fantasyauthorsandylender) | 5 comments Mod
I think it would be a great idea. Are there any worries not to?

message 6: by Brenna (new)

Brenna Lyons (BrennaLyons) | 93 comments Mod
Please do. I have.


message 7: by Brenna (new)

Brenna Lyons (BrennaLyons) | 93 comments Mod
Someone asked me off group how prevalent the problem is. This was my reply.


These are just a few of hundreds of such listings every day. Some of the larger infringers bundle hundreds of e-books together in a single sale. Worse, some of them are selling multiple copies of the same packet of hundreds of e-books, which is blatantly illegal; one such infringer a few weeks ago was selling 650 or so books in the packet and had six or more listings (current ones...she had hundreds more that had already sold) running of that packet at once.

Beyond the fact that first sale doctrine does not apply to e-books, as it does to print books, because reselling means making unauthorized copies and distribution channels (speak to Patrick Ross at Copyright Alliance for more information on how the laws apply).... Beyond the fact that even infringers outside the US may be breaking the law due to the Berne treaty, many of these sellers claim ridiculous things about the e-books. Among them:

"They are public domain." No, they aren't, in most cases. Public domain (in the US) comes 70 years after the death of the author. A current NY Times bestseller is not public domain. My books are not public domain. Finding someone else pirating them does not mean the books are public domain.

"I have resell rights." No, they don't. One pirate chieftain lies and says he has resell rights, and then gets the dominoes falling in line. Some know it's a lie and still claim it. Some are really uneducated enough to believe it. No author or publisher is blithely selling resell rights that way. Think about it. Someone is buying a bulk collection of 500 novels, a third of them NY Times bestsellers, and they believe the author has willingly sold someone this right and is allowing them to sell hundreds or thousands of copies of the same book over and over with the author getting not a dime of a single sale? Why? It doesn't pass the common sense test.

"It was a free e-book anyway. I can sell it, if I want to." Actually, most free reads out there have a Creative Commons statement on them that they can be passed for free as far and wide as you want to but cannot be used for commercial use. Even if they don't, copyright law applies here. It's covered, just like so many other things. Giving a free read does NOT invalidate copyright protection or allow someone else to make money from it without the permission of the author. Besides that, it's tacky. If I give a free read, it's a gift to the readers. It's not for someone to pilfer and cheat some unknowing reader into paying for. Send readers the link to the free read as much as you want. I've personally dealt with one that was selling free reads from one of my publishers. You wouldn't believe the idiotic statements coming out of this woman's mouth.

"eBay no longer allows selling electronic ebooks, so I have to deliver them on CD." As if burning them to CD makes the illegal copy legal? What is wrong with these people?

How prevalent is it? VERY!

Oh, and a side note. I found one in that group this morning that not only claimed all of her books had either resell rights or were public domain...NOT...but had heisted the author's picture from her site to make her illegal auction seem sanctioned by the author...hence adding yet another layer of infringement to the mix.

message 8: by Rowena, Group Owner (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 685 comments Mod

This is a very important post. Would you copy it and add it as a new topic to the EBay folder as well?

message 9: by Brenna (new)

Brenna Lyons (BrennaLyons) | 93 comments Mod
Sure will.


message 10: by Rowena, Group Owner (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 685 comments Mod
Text of Brenna's letter to EBay President Tom Donohoe

But... please sign the letter here:

We, the creators of original works of literature, music, and video, address this open letter to eBay and CEO Tom Donahoe:

While the intentions of the VeRO program are commendable, the implementation of the program and support information for it are inadequate to the task eBay has set out to achieve. While we appreciate the steps eBay has taken to date and the willingness to aid us in prosecution of pirates on eBay, the system is far from perfect. To that end, we suggest the following additions and changes to the VeRO program.

Complaints about infringement should be allowed to be filed by anyone who finds it, eBay member or not. Many creators find it a nuisance to have an eBay account to effectively police infringement on eBay.

While eBay attests that it contacts rights owners when piracy is discovered, it can be assumed with confidence that eBay does not know who all rights owners and empowered parties are. A simple log-in for all rights owners and representative publishers, lawyers, or other agents would alleviate this problem. Having such a log-in would create a database with contact information of rights owners, allowing eBay to be more effective in such pursuits. Said database would ideally include: title, series (if applicable), author name/s, publisher name, whether the item is not permitted to be sold electronically at all or is not permitted to be offered for commercial use*, and two e-mail contacts for rights information/verification. Rights owners would be able to update all information as necessary, add new titles, and it would behoove them to do so. eBay representatives would have a ready means of contacting rights owners on hand.

Further, by entering information in the database, rights owners would be automatically entering a search feature to have new auctions containing any keywords from the author/creator, title, and series fields e-mailed to them on a daily basis. This would allow rights owners to find and respond to piracy more effectively.

To further aid in the prompt and decisive response to piracy on eBay, all bulk or collections of e-books or electronic media offered on eBay should be required (in the item description) to include all author/creator names and titles or series included on the collection. Failure to do so should be grounds for removal of the auction, by anyone making the complaint.

*Authors/creators sometimes offer a free read/piece of software to readers/users, with the stipulation that it may be passed for free or given away for free in a collection with a sale of another item but may not be sold, in any manner. Such items are often covered under Creative Commons or Open Source licensing. They are not permitted to be sold, even if the seller claims he/she is charging only for his/her own work in creating the CD version. Giving something away for free does not mean it’s not in violation of Copyright, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or other infringements.

When collections of free e-books or other electronic media are given away with another purchase, the author/creator names and titles or series should likewise be required to be included in the item description. Failure to do so should be grounds for removal of the auction, by anyone making the complaint.

Unless an eBay seller is selling his/her own creations, any auctions or sales of e-books or electronic media claiming to be selling “resale rights” should be automatically terminated. Since authors and other creators do not routinely sell these rights, the chances that the claim is true are nearly non-existent. Allowing this claim on auctions makes buyers believe they have the right to also sell the works, leading to a domino effect of piracy believed to be legitimate by many of those involved.

Another major overhaul would ideally come in the way eBay deals with infringing auctions. We would highly suggest the following steps.

Infringement reports on an auction should show as negative points on the seller’s rating. Any positive comments on infringing auctions (including former auctions that match the current one) should be removed and the points the buyers gave the seller removed. If that means the seller loses status awards, that is what should rightly happen. Allowing sellers to profit, in money or in status, from piracy only encourages it to continue. There must be a price for illegal activity.

There should be a firm line that eBay adheres to that includes something like: three unique infringement complaints results in moderated listings and five in the seller being banned from eBay. Whatever lines eBay deems correct, they should be strictly enforced, no matter what positive ratings the seller has on other auctions or how popular said seller is.

Relisting an infringing auction should automatically count as more than one point against the seller, as it shows intent to defraud or to infringe, despite fair warning.

At the moment, it appears to be a conflict of interest that eBay profits from the listing fees and PayPal fees for auctions of pirated goods. As a suggestion, to win good will with the wronged creators and to remove all appearance of conflict of interest, we suggest that eBay donate fees from infringing auctions to literacy groups. Since many of the infringing auctions are bulk/collection, and there is no way to split that money among the injured authors/creators, literacy education is an ideal beneficiary to benefit from such piracy. In any case, legitimate infringement should not have fees returned to the seller.

Finally, a separate tutorial needs to be created that specifically addresses e-books vs. print books. The current one does not cover DMCA, illegal copying and distribution, non-commercial vs. commercial uses, and so forth. eBay pirates routinely misuse terms such as resale rights, public domain, and more.

We thank Mr. Donahoe for his time and attention and hope that eBay and rights owners can embark upon a long and mutually-beneficial partnership in the future.

message 11: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) I signed and I tweeted it.

message 12: by Rowena, Group Owner (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 685 comments Mod
Thank you, A.F.

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