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Book stolen by U.S. company: anyone know how to respond?

Crumbly Writer

I tried to publish a book on lulu, which I hadn't initially, and I discovered someone had stolen my isbn and published my book via booklet site called completeoutfit.info. I not only have their IP address, but also their physical location, which is in Scottsdale, Arizona. Of course, the "Contact us" form isn't functional (the "send" button doesn't link to activate anything).

Does anyone know the best approach to this. I checked the site, and they report "No violations reported" on the site, though it's also listed as a torrent host.

Since they not only copyrighted my book, but stole my ISBN, my first move is to report the violation to Boker (the U.S. ISBN distributor), but beyond that, I'm unsure how to proceed, since I can't send them a 'cease and desist' request.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I'd start with Boker, and ask them for advice. Then I'd probably see how to go them for the copyright infringement.

Ernest Bywater

I'd also report it to Lulu as well - that way they can stop any payments to them, redirect them to you, and clean up the situation from their end.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I'd also report it to Lulu as well - that way they can stop any payments to them, redirect them to you, and clean up the situation from their end.

No, lulu had no part in this. After all, they DO have contact information. Instead, someone published my book using an ISBN I'd reserved FOR lulu but hadn't used yet. The odd thing, is that I've never posted the story anywhere, so they must have purchased the book only to turn around and publish it themselves from an American site that no one's ever heard of before. In fact, it's listed as an "Art book".

I'm planning to contact Bowker, but I have to wait for 9 a.m. EST, otherwise there's no one there to answer the telephone.

It's actually funny, because the book in question has only sold a grand total of 2 copies, so it's not even like the grabbed a reasonable selling book from an unknown author, instead the stole the least successful book from an author no one (in the general public) knows. It makes you wonder what they were thinking. All I can guess is: they bought it, read it and thought "Wow! This is great! I can surely make a bundle by publishing this for free thru an unknown company via an unknown and unresponsive website."

But then, no one ever claimed bootleggers, like any other criminals, were terribly bright. If they were, they'd be able to hold down a legitimate job.

Ernest Bywater

Do report them, however, I did some searching on it and it looks to me like a click-bait site that earns money by redirecting you to other sites.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

but beyond that, I'm unsure how to proceed, since I can't send them a 'cease and desist' request.


You need to consult a lawyer.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You need to consult a lawyer.

As Ernest said, it looks like a click-bait site, except there isn't much to click on at the moment. The IP owner has numerous sites, so he's apparently casting about for anything he can use to attract attention.

I called bowker, and they said there's nothing they can do, as the people ARE using a valid ISBN (mine), which means I'm unable to use it. Also, when I published the book, I listed a "published date", which makes the ISBN information permanent. I can modify the books information, flagging the book as bogus, but how many readers are going to look up the ISBN information on a free book they see online.

I guess the next step is to contact the copyright office and see what they suggest. Clearly the man is REACHABLE, since I know where he is, he's in the U.S., and whoever offers the IP can release the information for a formal complaint to be sent, but that seems like it'll take some time.

Anyone know a more direct way to get the actual name of a website's owner? I know it's available, since mine is 'publicly listed'. I just don't know how to access that information.

Actually, the click-bait idea makes sense, because I doubt the guy actually purchased the book. The ebook seems quite small, so I'm guessing they only 'published' what's available as a 'free read' on Amazon.

Anyone know a decent copyright lawyer, preferably one who lives in my region and will work for a pittance?

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

Ha-ha. The entire Washington D.C. copyright office is 'closed for a meeting' for three hours. I'm guessing it's someone's birthday. Shows just how dysfunctional Washington is.

However, there's not a single entry on the copyright website mentioning copyright violations. Apparently, from the looks of it, the copyright office isn't involved and doesn't care about violations. Meaning I'll need to go thru a lawyer.

By the way, all those claims in another thread about copyrights only costing $35 for each book. Seems the cost has gone up. Their website states $85 per book. Seeing as how it's being offered for free, and I didn't pay the fee, if I hire a lawyer, I'll just be throwing money away.

OK, there ARE a couple copyright lawyers, only two (Edit: five) hours drive away. Guess I'll have to ask THEM how to proceed, and whether they can simply craft a generic 'cease and desist order'. I'm assuming they can also identify the owner of the website to serve the order on. It may not do much, but at least it stands a chance.

Crumbly Writer

OK, as I suspected, the copyright office is prohibited from offering suggestions on how to counteract copyright violations. It's purely a civil matter (i.e. one individual has to sue another individual and/or corporation). If there's any cause for a criminal trial, only the U.S. Department of Justice can file claims!

For only $85 dollars, I can still file a formal copyright request (the book was published in November, and still falls within their 90-day grace period). But even though the offender lives in the U.S., I seriously doubt I can do anything to him without a three to five year court fight. Basically, I'm just looking for someway to contact the site's owner to issue file a complaint and hope it scare them into taking the book down.

Oyster

http://whois.domaintools.com/completeoutfit.info

Shows it was registered via 1and1.com and gives privacy@1and1.com as a contact address.

So this page was registered via an ISP (1&1) and if you contact them with the info they may be able and willing to help you.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Oyster

Shows it was registered via 1and1.com and gives privacy@1and1.com as a contact address.

That contact directs me to a 'request for contact form' which also doesn't have a functioning "Send" key, and the email informs me 1and1.com is an automated email, so further contact is worthless.

Bogus site, presented by a bogus ISP.

Guess my only option is to contact one of the copyright lawyers. (Which, by the way, are located 5 hours drive away, instead of the 2 hours I previously assumed.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Oyster
Updated:

1and1 (or 1&1) is a respected, widely available and cheap ISP, at least that's how it is in Germany.

Here's their help number directly from help.1and1.com : 1-866-991-2631 (toll-free) or you can try https://contact.1and1.com/?origin=help-center .

I honestly do not know how you can get to the conclusion that it is a bogus site by a bogus ISP.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer


Guess my only option is to contact one of the copyright lawyers.


Is it worth spending the money?

Crumbly Writer

Sigh!

Tried researching "reporting bogus sites". The only applicable link was Google. Visiting their "Span, Phishing & malware" page, the websites (both website and the ISP) clearly violate all their 'guidelines', but the violation isn't any of those three options, so there's no button to click. Instead, I followed the only applicable link, to "copyright" violation, which brought me around in a big circle again to the exact same place, as there's no 'correct' button to press to get a response.

I guess it's stupid to seek help from the very people profiting from bogus websites! It seems the ONLY option is to contact a lawyer, however now I have to ask how much do I want to invest in trying to shut down a fly-by-night U.S. website when I'm unlikely to ever win any compensation. :(

Simply put: copyright law sucks! There's simply no recompense for those cheated of their work unless they hire an entire legal department just for these types of violations.

Replies:   Dominions Son
awnlee jawking

@Oyster

They've been advertising heavily on UK television. I don't know about respectable though because I have no direct experience.

AJ

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Oyster


I honestly do not know how you can get to the conclusion that it is a bogus site by a bogus ISP.


Simple: both the bogus site's and the ISP's 'contact sites' feature the identical bogus 'email links'. I'm assuming the ISP offers these services especially to their shadier clients. Maybe the law is stricter in Germany, but I'm guessing it's not in the U.S., where no one really cares whether someone is violating the law.

Why have a contact ID if you're unable to contact it? It's clearly an attempt to project a fictitious legitimacy while protecting wrongdoers.

Oh, by the way, that phone number for 1and1's help center. The entire operation consists of an automated response asking one question: "If you are a 1&1 customer, press "1". If you are not a 1&1 customer, press "2" (and we'll redirect you to our automated sales routine).

There's no way to contact an actual human being either way, either through the phone system, email or weblinks.

By the way, I also work with a 'respectable but cheap internet services', however, I've never had any trouble reaching someone for assistance. They may not be reachable immediately, but at least there's some form of contact available.

Oyster
Updated:

Speaking only from personal (and extended family) experience here and only for Germany:

I've been with them for over ten years now and never had problems or issues with them. Problems (defective hardware) were solved by a call to their toll-free service hot-line and a callback by a technician, followed by them sending a new unit with no cost. Their contracts (landline) usually offer the best bang for your buck.

So, yeah I do not know what or where Crumbly Writer clicked to get to his false conclusions and calling 1and1's toll-free hot-line should be a cheaper first step than contacting an attorney.

Edit since CW answered while I was typing:
As I have said I do not have experience with their USA operation, but over here they are reliable, friendly and easy to reach.

Another contact e-mail address I have found via whois is: abuse@1and1.com

OR:
You can try: https://contact.1and1.com/callback to set up a call from them.

Ross at Play

The Department of Justice has a 'Guide for Victims of Copyright Infringment ...' at this link
https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ccips/file/891011/download

Not_a_ID

Might want to see if see if a DMCA takedown notification will work. Contacting the ISP that hosts the physical hardware(and owns the IP address, not the domain name) would settle that, at least until the offending party tells them the claim is bogus(and or resolved, true or not) and says "bring it back online."

I've been a Top Level Domain holder on the receiving end of a DMCA takedown, they found my ISP and hit them with it first.

Ross at Play

Have you actually been able to download a copy of your book?
I tried downloading random "books" from the site and only got invitations to download an exe from filmfanatic.com, which I was not prepared to do.
From what I can see they may only have copies of book covers and descriptions and be using those a bait for some other scam.
Also there is an email address for "abuse complaints" for filmfanatic.com listed at https://whois.domaintools.com/filmfanatic.com.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


There's simply no recompense for those cheated of their work unless they hire an entire legal department just for these types of violations.


That's not unique to US law.

ETA:

It's not unique to copyright law either. There's no recompense for patent holders cheated out of their work unless they hire lawyers and go to court.

IP issues (copyright/patent/trademark) are all civil issues, the government isn't going to go after violators for you.

Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I tried to publish a book on lulu, which I hadn't initially, and I discovered someone had stolen my isbn and published my book via booklet site called completeoutfit.info.


I'm not clear on what "stolen my ISBN and published" means. Is it an ISBN already assigned to you by Lulu or someone else? And what does "published" mean, other than posting it "for sale" on their site.

How is that different from someone buying a copy or downloading a free copy and putting it on their own website? In other words, is this all copyright infringement or something else?

How are you prohibited from continuing to publish the work in whatever way you intended to do?

EDIT TO ADD: How did they copyright your book?

There's no agenda on my part here. I'm just not understanding what's going on.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Bondi Beach


I'm not clear on what "stolen my ISBN and published" means. Is it an ISBN already assigned to you by Lulu or someone else? And what does "published" mean, other than posting it "for sale" on their site.


It means: I purchased the ISBN, planned to use it for the book in question, but then held off because I've been unhappy with lulu's sales. I finally decided to go forward with it anyway, but was told my ISBN had "already been used". I asked myself, "How can someone use my ISBN", but I'm guessing I mistakenly listed the ISBN somewhere on my website in anticipation of releasing the book and someone grabbed it before I used it. Alternately, they could easily search for existing ISBNs using the book title, find any not already used, and then submit their book using my ISBN. In short, "owning" an ISBN doesn't mean much if you don't use it immediately! Bowker had no clue how to prevent anyone from using ANY of my ISBNs!

To answer your other question, "publishing" means they "published" my book (or some fragment of it), because that's how ISBNs get assigned to books (it doesn't happen when the owner purchases them, assigns then or completes the ISBN data). Since it looks like there's no physical way to download the book, I'm unsure why they "published" it, or what that means, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're offering it as a Kindle Select series of books. I'll have to watch and see. However, Amazon isn't very good about locating books by title, as I'm unable to tell Amazon that I published both a print and a Kindle book through them. They're unable to "find" the books in question!

Yes, this doesn't stop me from publishing the book on lulu. However, that's at least $7.80 down the drain (the cost of the individual ISBN when you purchase them in lots of 100). If I bought them individually, it would be a $78 dollar loss.

I "copyrighted" my book by publishing it (back in Nov.), so it was clearly before this guy grabbed it from me. I also have figured out how (and why) I was targeted (I'll cover that at a later date).

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I "copyrighted" my book by publishing it (back in Nov.), so it was clearly before this guy grabbed it from me.


Anyone can slap a copyright notice on something, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything unless they registered the copyright.

If they did register is and you can prove authorship/first publication, it should be possible to contest their registration with the Copyright Office. A decent copyright lawyer should be familiar with the procedures for doing this.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Anyone can slap a copyright notice on something, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything unless they registered the copyright.


No, the act of publishing (or performing for music or plays) conveys copyright protection. The only thing registering a copyright conveys is statutory damages coverage, and adding a copyright symbol to a book offers you no protections whatsoever (that only documents when the book was published for readers)! However, at $85 per book, for most Indie Authors, that'll eat through their meager profit in no time, especially as it's difficult getting statutory damage claims through the court system.

There's also a 'grace period', where I can register for a copyright up to 90-days after publishing the book, in which case I'd still retain my statutory damage rights. Who "owns" the copyright is a separate issue, as it's whoever published it first who gets the rewards (unless you can prove to a judge that you physically wrote the words first, which is notoriously difficult to prove (i.e. the other side's lawyers will rake you over the coals)).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

It means: I purchased the ISBN, planned to use it for the book in question, but then held off because I've been unhappy with lulu's sales. I finally decided to go forward with it anyway, but was told my ISBN had "already been used".


Meaning the other folks had published and your work is now listed in publisher databases? How about getting a new free ISBN from Lulu and publishing the book? (And then go after the bad guys to whatever extent your time and finances permit?)

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

No, the act of publishing


No, actually publication is unnecessary. Fixing the work in a tangible medium is all that is needed for copyright to attach.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

Meaning the other folks had published and your work is now listed in publisher databases? How about getting a new free ISBN from Lulu and publishing the book? (And then go after the bad guys to whatever extent your time and finances permit?)

I started ordering my own ISBNs to solve a specific problem: I couldn't offer pre-release, review copies of my books if I had to wait for them to be published (It often takes up to two weeks for the information to work thru the system so websites/stores/libraries recognize it).

However, having predefined ISBNs which haven't been published, you're leaving yourself open to someone capitalizing on the market you've done for your book. Grabbing someone else's ISBN isn't common, but I proved it IS possible, and there isn't much you can do about it.

As far as the timetable goes, I typically set up my ISBNs when I'm in the process of writing my books so I can prepare the webpages listing the books for sale, which takes time. I tend to format each chapter's webpage as I write/revise it. I'd published the book in question to CS (createspace) and Amazon, but hesitated to publish on lulu because of poor sales. The copyright violators noticed me on LinkedIn Author discussions, targeted me, and went after my most recent book, rather than my most popular book.

How he got the ISBN isn't clear, but since it hadn't been used, once he identified the unused ISBN, he used it to "publish" the book. It's STILL a clear copyright violation, since I wrote it AND published it before he ever heard of it, but it means I can't use the ISBN (and he gets to profit from my good name).

I've got plenty of space ISBNs, so it's a simple matter publishing on lulu with a new one, so that isn't really the issue. However, the fact they stole my ISBN is the only reason I noticed they were peddling my book as their own.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

No, actually publication is unnecessary. Fixing the work in a tangible medium is all that is needed for copyright to attach.

Actually, if you read copyright law or the copyright offices' practices, you'll see that writing something doesn't guarantee a copyright, or extend you copyright publication. Only PUBLISHING a work does. However, proving you're the legitimate author is another matter. If someone else violates your copyright, you then have to PROVE that you produced the work before the other person.

Evidentiary proof isn't the same as copyright protection.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Actually, if you read copyright law or the copyright offices' practices, you'll see that writing something doesn't guarantee a copyright, or extend you copyright publication. Only PUBLISHING a work does.


You are wrong and have clearly read the wrong sources or you are confusing the rights granted by copyright with the requirements for having a copyright.

Here is a primer straight from the Copyright Office's web site.

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre­ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who cre­ated the work.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre­ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who cre­ated the work.


Then WHY are authors required to list the day of first publication when listing a copyright, as opposed to when you first started writing the story, or the date you completed the full first-draft, or even the final revision?

By the way, I've spent most of last night and today examining the copyright's website, discussing the matter with Boker, and reading up on how to identify website owners.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Then WHY are authors required to list the day of first publication when listing a copyright, as opposed to when you first started writing the story, or the date you completed the full first-draft, or even the final revision?


As a matter of current law, you probably aren't required to do so. No copyright notice is legally required under current law (1976 copyright act).

However, there are two factors that apply that might explain why publishers require it.

1. It's a holdover in publisher practices from the more stringent requirements from the 1909 copyright act and they've simply kept up the practice even though it's no longer required.

2. If revisions are made between editions, technically each edition has it's own copyright.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

If you bought the ISBN from Boker they should have you as the owner of that ISBN in their records. Something from them stating that can be used to tell Lulu to use it for your book. You own the ISBN. You paid for it. It's yours.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

As a matter of current law, you probably aren't required to do so. No copyright notice is legally required under current law (1976 copyright act).

However, there are two factors that apply that might explain why publishers require it.

The main reason has nothing to do with copyright law, in that it's a handy way for publishers (or all stripes) to list publication dates, but it also highlights that the books are covered by copyright protection (even if it's not strictly required).

But the question wasn't about whether the symbol is required, but why they've always specified publication dates. Even description of copyright in books I've ever seen stipulates you put the publication date, NOT the date you start (or finished) writing.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

but why they've always specified publication dates. Even description of copyright in books I've ever seen stipulates you put the publication date, NOT the date you start (or finished) writing.


I'm not completely certain, but I believe that the notice with publication year was required by law for a valid copyright under the 1909 Copyright act, which also required registration to have a copyright at all. Copyrights were also renewable under the 1909 act.

However, that was all superseded by the 1976 copyright act which brought US copyright law closer to the Bern Convention.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

However, that was all superseded by the 1976 copyright act which brought US copyright law closer to the Bern Convention.

Sorry, but Bernie's convention was very successful. Once he finished speaking, Hillary rushed him out of the theater!

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