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Summary:

Amazon is finally banning some of the junkier content in the Kindle Store, including “content that is freely available on the web, unless you are the copyright owner of that content.”

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Amazon is finally banning some of the junkier content in the Kindle Store, including “content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content.”

The company is making new rules on public domain and “other non-exclusive content.” Seth Godin got an e-mail highlighting the new rules (because he’s a Kindle author, not because he’s a spammer) and here they are:

Public Domain and Other Non-Exclusive Content
Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.

In other words, Amazon appears to be officially banning private-label rights content — articles that can be bought cheaply online and quickly formatted into an e-book — as well as public-domain works like “Alice in Wonderland” that many users are trying to sell. In the past, the company has taken a few steps to get this type of content under control, but this is a stricter policy.

It’s not clear how the new rules will be enforced, but it could mean stricter vetting at the submission stage. As Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader points out, Amazon has banned undifferentiated public-domain works before. But the company may be more serious about it this time around because the spam e-books have started making their way into the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

E-book retailer Smashwords already bans this type of content.

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  1. A welcome move, although the email publishers get from the Amazon “web content” robot is a bit scary. Circlet Press got a letter saying they’d detected our books’ content being freely available and we had five days to prove our copyright claim or they’d be pulled. An email explaining that yes, the first chapter of every book is up as a free sample seems to have cleared it up.

  2. Argh WordPress ate my comment…?

    It said publishers of legit content are being challenged. Circlet Press has the first chapter or thousand words of every book free to sample on our website. We got a letter from Amazon’s auto detection robot threatening to pull the titles. Pointing out its our own promo website seems to have cleared it up. For now.

  3. If they try to implement this (which would be highly welcome) it will backfire bigtime. They do not only have a crappy bot that is traing to detect plagiarism or copyright infringements, obviously its results are not double checked by humans. Third, all this could be prevented if the right amount of people with the right training would survey the publishing process. Eight weeks back these people were not even able to spot PD books that were annotated with the original Wikipedia text to make the difference – including the original Wikipedia links!

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