Copyright Infringement Rampant on CreateSpace


I don’t think it’s any secret that Amazon owns CreateSpace. I also don’t believe it’s any secret—especially after the author uproar that occurred in April—that CreateSpace no longer offers “creative services” such as interior book formatting, cover design, editing, or the like. When they ceased offering those services, they severed the one last component that identified them as a “publisher” instead of a “content curator,” which is the role CreateSpace now plays, and is a far cry from meeting the goals of writers who dream of publication.

A perfect example appears in a recent article on the Publishers Weekly website, written by Kenny Brechner and titled “Pirating on CreateSpace,” in which he identifies very specific examples of flagrant copyright infringement by individuals (I wouldn’t call them writers) sharing (I wouldn’t call it publishing) content through the CreateSpace platform.  One objective of a publisher is to protect their authors, and also prevent circumstances like the ones reported by Mr. Brechner. Unfortunately, the exact opposite objective is true for a content curator like CreateSpace.  Since it’s “free” to “publish” content there, CreateSpace and Amazon value neither the content nor the authors who created it. Instead, their goal is to compile as much content as possible for the purposes of offering it—usually by giving it away or encouraging their authors to give it away through thinly-veiled “marketing promotions”—to lure new Amazon members into its Prime, Prime Video Streaming, and KindleUnlimited memberships (all of which require monthly/yearly dues, and none of which reward the content creators for their contribution).  

Since CreateSpace/Amazon uses content and its creators as loss-leaders for subscriptions, they are hardly compelled to prevent copyright infringement or acts of piracy. In fact, as you can see from Brechner’s Publishers Weekly article, it was only after the article appeared on a highly respected industry website that Amazon bothered to do anything about it … and the author himself was unable to get CreateSpace to take any action at all, though not from lack of trying.  And as you’ll see from the comments already piling up below the article, this wasn’t an isolated case, nor is it something that authors are willing to tolerate. Comments include phrases like:

“I’d say, Createspace should be embarrassed – beyond measure.” – GISELA HAUSMANN

“…this article is a wise word of caution to us writers.” – Carol Johnson

“Same thing happened to me. I discovered one of its CreateSpace books had pirated both some text and several of my photos from my website that included those texts and those photos selected from my traditionally published book.” – Mark Mathew Braunstein

In fact, the same thing happened with one of my own books, too: Publishing Gems. I discovered that it had been copied in its entirety through the CreateSpace platform without my knowledge or consent. Not only was CreateSpace selling the pirated version, but so were a vast number of Amazon Marketplace booksellers. When I contacted Amazon about the infringement, they were quick to remove it. When I asked them the name of the individual who was responsible for this act of piracy, they ignored me entirely. Then I started receiving emailed requests from all the Marketplace booksellers, notifying me that they had removed the stolen book from their virtual shelves, and asking me to “approve them” for continued business under the threat of cancellation from Amazon.  Here’s the interesting part – all their emails were nearly identical, as if someone from Amazon’s legal department provided them with the exact verbiage to use to request forgiveness.

Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that copyright infringement happens so frequently through CreateSpace that Amazon’s legal department has come up with an actual procedure to cope with it.

Is that the kind of publ—er, algorithm, you want handling your books?

computer piracy

brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Self-Publishing News: 11.27.2017 – Publishing Trends


And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically regarding publishing trends within the publishing industry, and their implications for all authors!

This article, courtesy of Courthouse News, chronicles the surprising story of a self-published work of erotic sort-of-fanfiction which might have been destined for obscurity had it not, well, featured a number of real life people, including an actual New Englands Patriots player and an actual picture of an actual couple on their honeymoon. And obviously, having not consented to this use of their names and/or images, these individuals took the author–and the self-publishing companies which sold the book!–to court. (Barnes & Noble was also sued, but doesn’t quite rate the headline. Courthouse News contributor Matt Reynolds describes both the history of the case and its implications for self-publishing authors and companies in the future. But two points seem adequately clear already: (1) featuring real-life people in your self-published works without consent opens you up to a whole plethora of troubles, and (2) it might also make your book famous. That said, we don’t advocate for this kind of flirtation with ethics; we recommend reading Reynold’s entire article and making up your own minds.

What are they? Well, we will do our best not to spoil this entire article for you and rather recommend that you take a peek at Ben Fox Rubin’s whole article, but suffice it to say that the Kindle has had quite a history of both successes and failures, and one of Amazon’s trademarks is the ability to turn the flip the latter around, learn from it, and find a marketable way of moving beyond it.

A trick we could all learn from, eh?

Rubin’s article is interesting for more reasons than the clickbait indicated by the article’s title; here he gives an insightful tour of the device’s–and the company’s, and self-publishing’s–early days, its path to profitability, and some key indicators of what’s to come next. You might have heard that tablets and dedicated e-readers are going away, but what does the largest manufacturer of dedicated e-readers actually think about this idea? Check out Rubin’s article in full for further excellent thoughts.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.


Self-Publishing News: 10.2.2017 – The Company Files!

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

Rejection is a part of every author’s experience, isn’t it? But even the most determined author starts to question what’s good and what’s not after 47 rejections … unless that author is Ashwin Sanghi, who received that exact number of rejections before carrying on to publish huge hits The Rozabal LineThe Krishna Key and Chanakya’s Chant. If you think that’s a punch of encouragement to get you through the morning, get this: Sanghi is a believer in self-publishing. “The technological tools available today are so immense that there is no reason why you should not be able to make your book at least visible,” he says, and self-publishing now offers the kinds of opportunities you’d only find with traditional publishing houses when he first started out. “Self-publishing as a concept didn’t exist prior to 2007. In fact, in those days what existed was vanity press, where you paid to have copies of your book printed.” He then proceeds to walk readers through the benefits of self-publishing, and to encourage them to push forward. The rest of the article is well worth a read!

Susan Miles Gulbransen, of Santa Barbara’s Noozhawk, has some words this last week on the subject of bestsellers … and how they’re often made, not born. Now, most of us involved in writing and publishing harbor no illusions that publishing is a fair and equitable environment that rewards those who’ve put in the labor in order to produce masterpieces. But just in case you did … well, maybe bursting bubbles isn’t the most worthwhile thing to do with our time. And maybe it is. Gulbransen has some serious questions: “What is the difference between individual and bulk sales? Which books have the right literary quality? Does it take money to get a book listed? Or, which bookstores get counted? When I researched what it takes to make the NYT bestseller lists, it became obvious that the system is complicated, secretive and not based on straight sales calculations.” Want to know how the magic is made, and the implications for self-publishing authors? Dig into the rest of her article at the Noozhawk.

Ben Fox Rubin of CNet has some insights into Amazon’s latest attempt to tweak the ebook platform it has spent so long carefully building, and they’re not all optimistic. Says Rubin, “The online retailer on Wednesday filed five separate legal actions through the American Arbitration Association to cut down on a variety of alleged scams used to make money on Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing service.” These scams have plagued the platform since its beginning, although Rubin reiterates that they are not the majority of transactions taking place on Kindle Direct. But Amazon is getting serious about fixing things: “Amazon since 2015 has been using these kinds of legal actions to fight against scams and already sued over 1,000 entities involved in allegedly creating fake product reviews on its sites. The company last year also sued alleged counterfeiters.” It’s a step…but will it be enough? Rubin has some interesting speculations on that score, well worth reading up on.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing Week in Review: 1/28/14

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

Technology: Kindle turns self-publishing on its head

According to this article, reported, at the end of 2013, that nearly 25 percent of the top 100 Kindle e-books are from independent publishers. (This is great news for self-publishing authors!) This story talks about how technology is changing the publishing industry, including the self-publishing segment.

PW Select January 2014: A Look Ahead to Self-Publishing in 2014

This Publisher’s Weekly article discusses what authors can expect from the self-publishing market in 2014. It covers “what the future may hold, what new opportunities may be available in the new year, and what challenges to watch out for.” It is a must read.

NYT Best-Selling Author and Finance Expert Dave Ramsey on Self-Publishing

This is a fascinating interview with NYT Best-Selling Author and Finance Expert Dave Ramsey. It is part of a MediaBistro series titled Profit From Your Passion. Any one understanding self-publishing should check it out.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

What You Need to Know About the Amazon Kindle Price-Fixing Case

Amazon Kindle DX
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Amazon Kindle DX by texqas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

In a mid-October letter to customers, Amazon pledged partial refunds to Kindle ebook buyers after a tentative agreement by three publishers to settle a price-fixing, anti-trust case. The publishers, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster, were accused in a suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice of colluding to keep ebook prices artificially high by blacklisting other retailers who sold books at lower prices.

Around Oct. 13, Kindle customers received notification from Amazon that book publishers Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster had tentatively settled their antitrust lawsuit concerning Kindle ebook prices. Under the settlements, the publishers agreed to provide funds for a credit that will be applied directly to customers’ accounts, pending Court approval in February 2013.

We have good news. You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the Attorneys General of most U.S. states and territories, including yours. You do not need to do anything to receive this credit. We will contact you when the credit is applied to your account.

Rebate credits can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books. The amount of individual credits isn’t known, but the Attorneys General estimate that it will range from $0.30 to $1.32 for each eligible Kindle book purchased between April 2010 and May 2012.

Apple, Penguin and MacMillan were also named in the price-fixing, anti-trust lawsuit, but continue to fight the case. We will keep you posted on the resolution of that case.

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.