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ALERT: Major Plagiarism of Reviews Occurring on eBay Seller Site

A company called Edson.financial.group has a books and music and other media ebay store. Over 200 products are reviewed, however, it has been discovered that many of those reviews are copied word for word from reviewers on Amazon. Jennifer Ray from Wild on Books Reviews has had three reviews copied and reposted under Edson.financial.group’s name.

Jennifer has reported this entity to eBay but hasn’t received a response. Another reviewer noticed the same problem and turned to Amazon for help. As always, Amazon has a piss poor response:

Greetings from Amazon.com. I apologize that your review for an item on Amazon.com was posted on another web site. In this instance, please know that we did not give permission for this to happen. Unfortunately however, we are not able to take any actions to have the review removed as the review you are referencing is on a different web site than ours or one of our sister sites. I would ask that you contact this site, in this case e-Bay, to ask that the review be removed. I hope this information is helpful. Thanks for your interest in Amazon.com."

One weapon a person has against copyright infringement on the web is the DMCA takedown notice. An owner of a copyrighted work (any idea that has been expressed in a tangible fixed format) can write to the internet host of the infringing work and request that the infringing work be removed. In order for a hosting service to NOT BE responsible for hosting infringing work is to “act expeditiously” upon receiving notice from the copyright holder.

Authors use the VeRO Program to get listings of their ARCs taken off of eBay (despite not actually being the copyright owners of those copies – that right belongs to the publisher) and that is the same resource that reviewers could use if to report infringement of their intellectual property.

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

27 Comments

  1. katiebabs
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 15:37:08

    Grrrr… makes me angry. :(

  2. Jennifer A. Ray
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 16:44:47

    Jane, thank you for posting the story and for the additional resources you have provided. I will certainly be looking into the information you posted on DMCA Takedown Notice.

    EDson Financial Group should at the very least be banned from eBay, but judging by their lack of response to the issue so far, I am not holding my breath. I would like to be pleasantly surprised, though, and if they actually step up to the plate, I will be shouting it from the rooftops (or the internet equivalent, anyway.)

    Over 200 counts of deliberate and blatant plagiarism is absolutely reprehensible. Of course, I feel just as strongly about 1 act of it, but I might believe it was some kind of ‘accident’ with only one. This is not.

  3. Another reviewer
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 17:47:48

    I’ve also reported this to ebay in a multitude of ways, thanks to a heads up email about it last night. I’ve had at least one of my own reviews plagiarized as well. Disgusting!

  4. Mireya
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 17:49:33

    When I started reviewing five years ago, I learned how some people think nothing of stealing someone else’s work … and that includes reviews, not just ebooks or mp3s. Since I became co-owner of my newsletter, this is the sort of thing that always concerns me, not only as a reviewer myself, but also to protect my reviewers’ hard work. The gall of some people really does anger me. I am sorry to hear how some fellow reviewers’ work has been stolen. :(

  5. Jana Oliver
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 19:08:22

    A question — why is an ARC’s copyright held by the publisher, not the author(s)? Why is it any different than the actual book?

  6. azteclady
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 19:30:24

    I’m sad at how unsurprised I am by this. Not any less indignant, mind, but unsurprised.

  7. Cinnamon
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 19:56:52

    As a book reviewer, I too am appalled. We are instructed very carefully by our review site as to how we can be plagiarizing if we put word-for-word copies of our reviews up at amazon or other sites, because once they are up at our home review site, that site owns the copyright. My site allows us to use the same review or an adaptation of it on amazon for example, but we have to give credit to our home site if we post it there. We of course are not allowed to use the same review at another review site!!!

    Despite all this instruction and care we take as reviewers, another entity thinks nothing of stealing from us!!!

  8. K. Z. Snow
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 22:09:10

    I wouldn’t expect any action from eBay. Those mofos make a habit of blowing their big sellers. As usual, it’s “profit uber alles”.

  9. Ann Somerville
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 01:54:15

    because once they are up at our home review site, that site owns the copyright.

    Unless you explicitly sign your copyright away, this is bullshit – or are you a paid reviewer?

    No one can take your copyright from you without your consent. That’s the essential principle behind the Berne Convention.

  10. Jonathan Bailey
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 12:04:19

    Ok, a few finer points here.

    First, Amazon does not have copyright in the reviews posted there. They are a host the same as eBay is in this case. Amazon has an implied license to display and use the work in the manner it was intended, but you are free to do with it as you please elsewhere with the work. Transfer of copyright requires a signed contract and/or an employment relationship that qualifies as a work for hire. Neither apply here.

    Second, eBay does have a DMCA agent. They use the VeRO program for items and also use the VeRO address to receive DMCA notices, but they do have a DMCA process. You can read about it here:

    http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/registered-agent.html

    If you want, I have stock letters on my site that you are free to use. However, do not expect any response until after the weekend since it is a holiday weekend in the U.S.

    Hopefully those who are infringed can get this matter resolved. eBay actually has a decent reputaiton. However, I think that it is highly unfair to expect Amazon to do anything in this case as they have no rights to the work and can not file a DMCA notice on behalf of the rights holder under law. Their hands were and are tied.

    Hope that this helps!

  11. Kathleen
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 14:20:03

    I have spoken to ebay about VeRO, and have unfortunately confirmed with them that it is only useful for listings, and in this case is not relevant because we are talking about reviews.

    Thanks for posting about this.

  12. Mireya
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 18:07:38

    Kathleen, what option do they offer then, to those that had their reviews stolen. They wouldn’t remove them?

  13. Kathleen
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 20:27:05

    There is no option, that’s the problem. I don’t think they’ve really run into this problem before.

    The thing is, they just won’t respond to me. And when they finally did it was that VeRO thing, which isn’t relevant. Live help just continuously tells me that Trust&Safety are the ones that need to take care of it.

  14. Jane
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 20:57:36

    I would use the Vero program anyway. It doesn’t state it is limited to listings because it says

    If you have a good faith belief that a listing on eBay infringes your copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights, all you need to do is download our Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI) form, fill it out, and fax it to eBay. Download eBay’s NOCI form

    So if you have a good faith belief that the listing on eBay infringes on your copyright, you have fulfilled step one. It’s worth a shot. The DMCA protects only those hosting services that take expeditious action to remove infringing content but the hosting service has to be notified first.

  15. Kathleen
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 21:05:26

    ** We do now have news that one person has had her review removed from edson’s name!

    She did in fact use the VERO program. — despite the fact that it is for listings, not reviews, AND ebay confirmed that…. but clearly ebay is an idiot so…

    Here’s what she said:

    At first I couldn't get eBay to respond to me at all. I sent emails, no response and although JR was lucky enough to only have ONE review stolen, they still hadn't removed it. And talking to their representative in live chat was no use. She actually looked at the review on our website and said…look at the bottom, he copied your copyright.

    I said…uhhh…”that's our webpage and our statement” DUH!

    Talk about inept!!

    So after getting no where, I went ahead and faxed them over a VeRO form informing them of our intellectual property rights. I faxed and then printed out a fax report stating fax date and how many pages sent to their number.

    Then I got an email telling me they couldn't find the review, could I link them to the correct review….*sigh* FINALLY after I did that I received a response about 30 minutes ago from them that the review has been removed.

    It was worse than pulling teeth! But I wanted to post this so that anyone else who is trying to get their reviews removed and hasn't received a response will know what worked for me.

    Melissa
    Joyfully Reviewed

    There you have it folks… Edson’s book reviews have gone down from 224 to 223. So spread the word.

  16. Mireya
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 21:52:53

    Thanks for the info, Kathleen.

    On a side note to Ann, any well organized review site has an agreement of some sort in place. I have reviewed for several places and I know this for a fact.

  17. Ann Somerville
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 23:46:37

    Mireya, I run a review site. We restrict what other people can do with our reviews, but I would never lay claim to the copyright of my reviewers’ writing. I find that rather repulsive, actually. I would never review for a site that did.

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  19. Michele Lee
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 02:09:48

    There is ONE review site that I occasionally review for that asks for FNASR. And they pay or else I wouldn’t send my reviews there. They are pun like a magazine and reviewing is one of the freelancing options they offer. I’m also welcome to write articles or conduct interviews and if they buy them, they ask for those first rights.

  20. Mireya
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 14:21:06

    That’s exactly it, Ann. I guess it was a matter of how I interpreted your post and how I worded mine.

  21. Vivienne Westlake
    Jul 06, 2008 @ 23:52:07

    I can’t believe they would steal so many reviews! I’m glad you’ve posted this as I often review books and products on Amazon under my real name. That’s really unfortunate that ebay was so difficult about removing the listings. But, I’m glad that some of you were finally able to resolve this.

  22. Jennifer A. Ray
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 09:16:06

    I finally received email responses from eBay concerning the complaints I sent last Wednesday and Thursday via email.

    The responses directed me to VeRO. I had already filled out the forms Thursday night, but couldn’t fax them in until I returned to work this morning.

    I’ll report in if and when I get a response from VeRO.

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  26. Jennifer A. Ray
    Jul 10, 2008 @ 11:56:54

    As of now, their review count is down to 218. eBay has removed six of the plagiarized reviews so far.

  27. Caffey
    Jul 13, 2008 @ 22:40:17

    Anyone who does this is so low! Unbelievable!

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