Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Wednesday Midday Links: Major Publishers Support Internet Killing Bill & Retro...

In case you missed it yesterday, BN just launched gifting of ebooks.  YAY!

Look for deals at the end of the post.

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Seth Godin has a list of publishers that are supporting SOPA, a bill that many internet supporters believe will allow large corporations to cut off content access for individuals.  SOPA is up for a vote tomorrow.  SOPA will allow copyright holders to have an entire URL blocked  if one part of the URL is hosting illegal material.  For example, if there is a book trailer posted by an author that contains copyrighted photos or music, the copyright holder could have everyone’s access to YouTube blocked.  This is what Viacom wanted in its suit against YouTube and ultimately lost. Proponents of the bill argue that it will never be used to block access that citizens enjoy and that it is only a measure designed to target overseas sites but the language of the bill is so broad and overreaching that any copyright holder could enforce these actions against sites like Etsy, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and so on.

The bill gives the right to any copyright holder to serve a notice on Etsy and have Etsy’s connection to the internet suspended:

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods, where users can set up a storefront and create listings for things they’ve made.  There are over 800,000 active “shops” filled with these handmade goods — far too many for Etsy to monitor manually. Further, because of the eclectic nature of goods listed, it’s difficult to technically filter through the objects listed.

All that means that it’s not feasible for Etsy to proactively prevent listings that may be perceived to violate US copyright or trademark law.  That’s a problem, because  under SOPA, anybody who is a “holder of an intellectual property right harmed by the activities” of even a portion of the site, could serve Etsy’s payment processors with a notice that would require them to suspend Etsy’s service within 5 days. That means that a trademark violation in one of the storefronts could lead to payment suspension across the entire site.

It’s not that people don’t want to protect copyright but that the language in SOPA is too overbroad.  It’s not going to affect sites like DA because we don’t allow you to upload pictures or music or books but it can easily affect any site that does allow that such as photo sites, social media sites, internet commerce sites.

Boing Boing has an easy to use form that will allow you to contact your representatives and share with them your thoughts about SOPA.

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Samhain has launched its Retro Romance line with some very attractive pricing. I’m not sure whether this is attractive to authors, but as a reader, I’m a fan.  From the press release:

According to Heather Osborn, Editorial Director, the program is in line with the desire of many authors to find new readers for old favorites—without the challenge of self-publishing. “With the proliferation of eBook readers, authors know they can quickly reach a new audience with their books, but self publishing still has inherent challenges for authors who prefer to spend more time writing than promoting,” explained Osborn. “For authors who have older titles and want to release them digitally, but don’t care to act as their own cover artist, production assistant, editor, or distributor, Samhain’s Retro Romance line is an ideal solution. We take on the work of scanning print books into digital files, copy editing, formatting into all of the various digital formats, creating beautiful cover art, advertising and promotion – and supply authors with a robust built-in distribution. It’s a win-win.”

The line, which launched Dec. 13, includes the following authors and titles:

  • Sharon DeVita, Heavenly Match
  • Kate Donovan, Game of Hearts
  • Patricia Hagan, Love and War
  • Karen Kay, Lakota Surrender
  • Debra Mullins, Once a Mistress

To learn more about Retro Romance, visit us online at www.samhainpublishing.com/retro-romance.htm.

Now the important stuff for the reader.  The price points of this line is as follows:

  • Plus Novel: $4.99
  • Novel: $3.99
  • Category Length: $2.99

During launch week, the books are 30% off at Samhain.  Interestingly the covers of the Retro categories are virtually indistinguishable from Harlequin. Can you tell the difference?

category covers

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An unhappy reader sent me a link to a blog post by Echelon, a publisher of romances. I think I’ve heard of them but I can’t say I’ve read a book published by them. In any event, the publisher is unhappy that readers aren’t reviewing more and points out that she reviews books that she publishes.  What’s wrong with you lazy readers?  You pay for the book and should review them too.  Echelon is giving away a Kindle Touch once 50 reviews are posted to one random reviewer.

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Romance at Random has a monthly shopping list in text form.  You can check out the one maintained at Dear Author if you like the pretty covers.

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Taken by the Cowboy by Julianne MacLean is All Romance eBooks free book of the day.

Anthea Lawson emailed that her debut self published YA is on sale for $.99 through December 18.

Harlequin’s coupon of the day is E5DOLL11 for $5 off the purchase of one Harlequin eBook. You can check this post for recommendations.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

35 Comments

  1. Ruthie
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 11:25:04

    Retro Romance is a smart idea from Samhain. The cover, though — oy! So saccharine, my teeth ache.

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  2. Keishon
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 12:06:04

    Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) sounds chilling and of course I hope it dies a lonely death. I just read on CNET that the bill’s ability to pass intact is looking rather dim.

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  3. DS
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 12:26:21

    Will Harlequin complain about the trade dress similarity? I remember Harlequin suing (or at least threatening to sue) a start up romance publisher for getting too close to the look of one of their lines– I think it was the Nora Roberts Flower Language books.

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  4. Susan Reader
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 12:40:12

    FYI– the Harlequin coupon takes $5 off your entire order. I just picked up two books for four dollars!

    ReplyReply

  5. Brian
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 12:46:47

    When I first saw those covers a few weeks ago my first thought was how Harlequin they looked.

    @DS, I know they filed suit against S&S back in the 80′s something about S&S’s “Silhouette Romance” .vs “Harlequin Presents” I think that was a trade dress suit. Don’t know how that case shook out.

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  6. Patrice
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 12:50:10

    FYI – on SOPA, I just called my Representative’s office. SOPA is not coming up for a vote on the House floor, it’s going before the Judiciary Committee. My Rep is not on that Committee but his aide took down my comments/concerns and will let him know about it. I’m not sure what if any good that will do. I guess the key would be to find out who is on (and who chairs) the Judiciary Committee.

    I did get an email yesterday about the Samhain Retro Romance line. It looks interesting! May be a good outlet for authors to repub their backlist if they are not up for self publishing and all the work that entails.

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  7. Jane
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:02:30

    @Brian Here is a link to the decision against S&S.

    While there are also some differences, such as the series’ names and the publishers’ colophons, it is the “combination of features as a whole rather than a difference in some of the details which must determine whether the competing product is likely to cause confusion in the mind of the public.” Perfect Fit Industries, Inc. v. Acme Quilting Co., 618 F.2d 950, 955 (2d Cir. 1980). We, like the district court, are convinced that an ordinary buyer of romance fiction would not recognize the disparities without setting out to find them. A buyer who did notice the difference between the names and the colophons would be reasonably justified in believing both products come from the same publisher.

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    In addition to the startling similarities between the covers, the district judge determined that there was actual confusion between the two covers among romance readers and members of the trade. These findings are substantiated by the inquiries directed to Harlequin about the Silhouette Romance series and the extraordinary number of Silhouette Romance book returns sent to Harlequin by retailers. Finally, the district court received and credited substantial evidence that Simon & Schuster deliberately imitated the Harlequin Presents cover. Evidence of conscious imitation is pertinent because the law presumes that an intended similarity is likely to cause confusion. Perfect Fit Industries, Inc. v. Acme Quilting Co., 618 F.2d at 954; RJR Foods, Inc. v. White Rock Corp., 603 F.2d 1058, 1060 (2d Cir. 1979); Harold Ritchie, Inc. v. Chesebrough-Pond’s, Inc., 281 F.2d 755, 758-60 (2d Cir. 1960).

    Harlequin has also adduced sufficient evidence to support the district court’s preliminary finding that the Harlequin Presents cover has a “secondary meaning” for romance readers. By secondary meaning, we mean that romance readers associate the Harlequin Presents cover with a particular series and publisher. See RJR Foods, Inc. v. White Rock Corp., 603 F.2d at 1059. Harlequin’s extensive national advertising, its phenomenal sales success1 and the results of a consumer survey2 indicate that romance readers correlate the Harlequin Presents cover with Harlequin and the Harlequin Presents series. See id. at 1060. The fact that the enthusiasm and loyalty of Harlequin’s readers have been the subject of extensive, unsolicited media coverage further supports the district court’s finding of secondary meaning. Scarves By Vera, Inc. v. Todo Imports, Ltd., 544 F.2d 1167, 1174 (2d Cir. 1976). Perhaps the most significant evidence of secondary meaning in this case, however, was the attempt by Simon & Schuster to capitalize on the Harlequin Presents cover when it introduced its own romance series. RJR Foods, Inc. v. White Rock Corp., 603 F.2d at 1060.

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    Although secondary meaning usually is a prerequisite to trademark protection, New York law shields trade dress from deliberate copying even if it has not acquired a secondary meaning. Perfect Fit Industries, Inc. v. Acme Quilting Co., 618 F.2d 950 (2d Cir. 1980). Thus, even if romance readers did not associate the Harlequin Presents cover with a specific series and publisher, Harlequin would be entitled to an injunction against Simon & Schuster’s deliberate imitation of its cover.

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  8. Brian
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:02:56

    @Patrice:

    I guess the key would be to find out who is on (and who chairs) the Judiciary Committee.

    http://judiciary.house.gov/about/members.html

    The chair is Lamar Smith from Texas

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  9. Michael
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:27:05

    If anyone wants a chilling look at what the future holds if SOPA passes, look no further than the story of Dajaz1.com.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111208/08225217010/breaking-news-feds-falsely-censor-popular-blog-over-year-deny-all-due-process-hide-all-details.shtml

    A popular hip-hop blog’s domain was seized in a secret court process after action by the RIAA, alleging copyright infringement. The allegedly infringing music being shared, however, was sent to the blog by representatives of the record labels themselves. The owner of the site and his lawyers were denied due process for more than a year before having the domain returned.

    Protecting intellectual property is important, but existing law is already being abused at the expense of constititutional guarantees of due process. Further eroding those guarantees isn’t something we should let happen.

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  10. Christine
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:39:47

    The Harlequin coupon is *Fantastic*- I just got Carla Kelly’s new anthology “Coming Home For Christmas” in ebook for 39 cents! Guess what I am reading tonight?!

    ReplyReply

  11. Sunita
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:46:16

    Check out this blog post by Karen Ranney at thehill.com’s Congress blog. It was linked to at the Judiciary Committee site. There are more links at the site but I haven’t clicked through on them.

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  12. Jane
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:54:35

    @Sunita I agree with Ranney that we need commonsense approach. SOPA isn’t it.

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  13. Sunita
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 14:05:00

    @Jane: It’s a pretty clever post (she is a writer, after all) because she points specifically to “Russian and Chinese” sites as the profiteers rather than the downloaders, who are presumably everywhere. The bill supporters do the same thing, emphasizing that American intellectual property is being stolen by foreigners.

    Tomorrow is the full Judiciary Committee markup session, which is the last stage before the bill is reported out of Committee to the Floor.

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  14. Jane
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 14:08:09

    @Sunita Sure she does. To some extent I think many supporters believe what Ranney is saying, that it is targeted toward overseas profiteers but that’s not how the bill is written. In some ways, I feel like the penduluum must swing one way so severely before people actually realize how harmful the effects are. Like who cares if copyright is so restrictive that you have to get a license from Disney to write about a brotherhood of vampires? Ultimately that hurts copyright owners the most because only the richest, most powerful copyright owners benefit from the restrictive laws, but eh, if that’s what these authors and others want to support, have at it, I guess. I’ll go and read fan fiction.

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  15. Sunita
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 14:47:18

    @Jane: You know this is a screwed up bill when you’ve got Darrell Issa and Ron Wyden joining forces on an alternative.

    Remember that SSRC report on piracy? I’ve seen almost nothing in reference to it. God forbid research with actual data and decent analysis should be widely disseminated.

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  16. P. Kirby
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 15:20:29

    “Like who cares if copyright is so restrictive that you have to get a license from Disney to write about a brotherhood of vampires? Ultimately that hurts copyright owners the most because only the richest, most powerful copyright owners benefit from the restrictive laws, but eh, if that’s what these authors and others want to support, have at it, I guess. I’ll go and read fan fiction. ”

    Restated for truth.

    I’m an author. I’m not naive when it comes to piracy. But this bill is poorly worded and vague, and it gives the government and big corporations broad reaching powers to shut down any site that they find objectionable. Thinking this bill is in any way a boom to content producers–that’s naive.

    ReplyReply

  17. Char
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 15:47:01

    Using the Harlequin coupon I got a book for free because it was under $5.

    ReplyReply

  18. Chris
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 16:13:05

    I’m really excited about the Samhain’s Retro romances, I already bought one to read this weekend. I just wish the covers weren’t so old school. I mean I get that that’s obviously the point, but the only thing I don’t miss about the old historicals are their clinchy covers. Although since I read almost exclusively digital these days, maybe I shouldn’t complain.

    And looking at the Patricia Hagan book made me wonder, why don’t we see historical romances set in America anymore? Or is it just me and I’m not coming across them? When I first dove into the world of romance as a teenager, that’s the majority of what I read, or more specifically what they had available at the library. I still remember blowing through Heather Graham’s Civil War-era set ones in just over a week (I remember there being 10 or 15 of them, surely that can’t be right?). In fact I think her Dark Stranger was one of the first, if not the first, romances I ever read (And it took me months to get a copy of the sequel, but I was tenacious). My trip down memory lane aside, is this just a publishing trends thing? Or do I have a faulty memory/faulty perception of current books available?

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  19. DS
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 16:47:03

    @Brian: Not the one I was thinking about. I remember specifically the reference to the flowers and the flower on the cover. It was probably in the 90′s.

    ReplyReply

  20. Kinsey
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 17:47:04

    SOPA is a monstrosity and anyone who believes only foreign pirates will be subject to domain seizure is nuts. Hollywood and the recording industry have been trying to get such a draconian act passed for years now. I’m disappointed in authors who support this bill and hope they only do so because they don’t understand what it will do.

    Congress promised the Patriot Act would only be used to investigate and prosecute terrorists. Now it’s used in the Drug War and for anything else the feds can shoehorn into it. Arizona promises cops won’t inquire about immigration status unless they’re already investigating a crime. The worst legislation is always passed with assurances that it will only be used in the “right” way. Pay attention to the language of the bill, not the completely unenforceable promises of the people who want to pass it. If this is the only bill that will stop online piracy, I’d rather my books continue to be pirated. Due process is way more important.

    Stepping off my soapbox now.

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  21. RBrose
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 18:00:33

    You’re going to advertise whenever a self-published author emails you with a sale? Watch out or this place will turn into the Amazon boards, with seventy-thousand self-published book ads per minute!

    There’re so many examples of how close those Retro covers are to the Harlequin Superromance line. It’s dodgy, and they are so clearly trying to cash in on the success of those Harlequin books. Makes me not want to buy anything there.

    This SOPA thing is only for Americans? So many readers here aren’t from the US, and I’m a little confused if this is going to have much effect on the rest of us.
    What a nanny state!

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  22. Ridley
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 18:58:49

    American politics are why I get high.

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  23. Kristen
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 19:15:52

    “It’s not going to affect sites like DA because we don’t allow you to upload pictures or music or books but it can easily affect any site that does allow that such as photo sites, social media sites, internet commerce sites.”

    Ah – but if someone posts a chunk of a published novel (either innocently for discussion or maliciously) you run into the fine line between Fair Use and copyright infringement and are just as vulnerable to a take-down notice as YouTube or Etsy.

    ANY site that allows users to post is at risk from this mess of a law.

    ReplyReply

  24. Ari
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 19:31:49

    @Ridley: “American politics are why I get high.”

    Do you have enough to share?

    I just saw a pro-SOPA commercial that insists overseas piracy is somehow responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

    It’s a shame “JOBS” is the political magic word now because I’d have liked to witness the creative acrobatics involved in tying overseas piracy to abortion or terrorism or whatever other one-word cause makes the focus group salivate.

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  25. Kinsey
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 21:41:14

    RBrose : from what I recall, the bill was originally, ostensibly, intended to thwart non-US based piracy sites – am I right, those of you who’ve read it lately? The first time I read about it, I did what I always do when I read about some horrible sounding piece of legislation – I assume that the article is being inflammatory, trying to make the bill sound awful because it’s ideologically anathema to the article’s author – I think “Oh hell, it can’t really say that!” So then I go read the bill, and if it does indeed really say that, I think “Oh hell, that’s so patently intrusive/burdensome/oppressive/dangerous to liberty, privacy or due process that it’ll never pass!”

    But that shit always passes. Every damn time. And then a few months or a couple years later, some conscience-shocking case arises out of what you would think is a misapplication of the law, only it turns out not to be a misapplication, and the law’s original drafters will say, “But, but, but, we never intended for it to be used like that!!” while all the people who voted for it avert their eyes and pray their constituents don’t know how to look up voting records on that Internet thingy.

    See, e.g., the National Defense Authorization Act.

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  26. Ridley
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 22:07:04

    The National Defense Authorization Act is why I get stinking, blind drunk.

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  27. SAO
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 05:36:37

    The pirates will move sites rapidly, as soon as they are cut off, their hosts will be stranded. So, what this law will do is cut off America from the rest of the world’s internet, reinforcing our isolation.

    The best site for Russian language search is Yandex. I can easily see the US cutting access to Yandex because of some link to a pirate site, when they’d never do that for Google, because they know what Google is and why it’s impossible for Google to filter the billions of items in their database.

    There are reams of interesting sites out there in all sorts of languages, hosted by all sorts of countries.

    This kind of egocentric blindness really pisses me off.

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  28. Brian
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 09:29:34

    Today only you can get a copy of “A Rare Gift” by Jaci Burton for free from the Carina Press website…

    http://ebooks.carinapress.com/16F41C05-E183-4D5F-A1B4-72D6F948DC6C/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=C9776E26-58BB-4068-AA38-5DE97F5B6B71

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  29. Kinsey
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 10:10:52

    If anyone can stand more information on SOPA – a blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy explains that, due to the ferocity of opposition, the bill has been amended – but the new version is clueless too: http://volokh.com/2011/12/14/sopa-rope-a-dope/

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  30. Brian
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 11:29:48

    New Kobo 30% off codes good thru December 18th…

    kobobirthday30US
    kobobirthday30CA
    kobobirthday30AU
    kobobirthday30UK

    ReplyReply

  31. HollyY
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 13:47:32

    I emailed both senators and all the congressmen for my state (Iowa). Rep. Steve King is on the judiciary committee. Unfortunately, the guy is probably rabidly for that bill – cause he’s rabid about just about everything I’m against. I still emailed him though. I just hope this bill does not pass. Congress is really good at overreaching and writing pathetic, confusing and dangerous bills…Patriot Act anyone?

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  32. Kinsey
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 14:46:05

    For those who want to follow the bill’s progress through Congress, I think this link should remain permanent. It’s been reported out of committee and once a vote’s been held, you can go to this page to see who voted how.

    If you hit the Bill Summary and Status link you can get more information.

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  33. Kinsey
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 01:30:15

    and…I was wrong – the links don’t last. Go here, set the search to “bill number” and look for “HR 3261″. You’ll see all the information, including text and Congressional actions, and once there’s been a vote you’ll see that too.

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  34. Kinsey
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 01:51:59

    and…I was wrong – the links don’t last. Go to http://thomas.loc.gov, set the search to “bill number” and look for “HR 3261″. You’ll see all the information, including text and Congressional actions, and once there’s been a vote you’ll see that too.

    ReplyReply

  35. Stumbling Over Chaos :: The linkity post in which I realize I missed my sixth blogiversary
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 07:34:34

    [...] and book news from Dear Author and Smart [...]

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