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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.