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Bye-Bye, Amazon: Why I Won’t Write Reviews For You Again

Why I Won’t Write Reviews on Amazon Again

The RSS of alerts on my online content from FairShare usually stays pretty quiet. Even when another site uses my content and a new alert is generated, 99% of the time a link back to my blog accompanies the post.  Even then, the post isn’t a full copy but a summary and a link. I have no problem with this, as I license my content under a Creative Commons copyright.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, here’s a 3-step process on how a blogger can protect the words she writes from being plagiarized or stolen.

1st: a blogger visits the Creative Commons website and picks which type of copyright she wants. I’ve chosen the copyright that allows other people to re-post my content, as long as they link back to me or give me credit and they don’t use my work to make money.  They can’t sell my work or use it to sell other things, even if they do link back to me.

2nd: the blogger downloads the graphic and puts it on every page of her blog.  Mine looks like this:

CreativeCommonsshot

3rd: the blogger uses various web applications to send alerts via RSS or email whenever her content shows up somewhere on the Internet.  I use FairShare to look after all my content and Google alerts to look after various keywords, including my name and blog name.  When someone uses my content, those alerts will fire me an RSS update or an email, respectively.

That’s the basic way to keep track of where your work ends up online.

When I get an alert, I immediately investigate. If everything looks OK and within the terms of the Creative Commons copyright, I leave it be. About 99% of the alerts fall within what’s called “Fair Use.” In other words, the other site that borrows my content links back to my blog, giving me credit, and the site isn’t covered in ads or selling any products.

Today I started my RSS reader and found an alert from FairShare that was in that 1%.

FairShare

FairShare showed me the site New and Used Books, where my review of NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman was listed under the ad for the book. I was not credited. The full review was posted, not a partial clip. There was no link back to the Amazon site where I had posted my review, there was no link back to my blog. No link at all. And they were using my review (albeit a non-favorable one) to sell the book.
This is when I send a “cease & desist” letter. Basically, a cease & desist is a letter that says, “Please link to me or remove this content immediately. You are violating my copyright.” In other words, somebody owes me money or credit, and if you don’t delete my content from your site, you must pay me.

NewandUsedbooks is still violating my copyright because they are using my words to sell a book, but even that I could let go if they just linked to me or to my Amazon review (which links to my blog).

Here is my email to Newandusedbooks.com. It is a typical cease & desist email that I write:

“You have used my content and are violating copyright. Please either remove my book review or give me the link credit to my blog. You have taken the online reviews from Amazon.com but have not linked to that either.  I will be forwarding a copy of this message to Amazon.com.
Here is the link to your page where you violate my copyright:
http://newandusedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=zmore&manu=Twelve&prodGroup=Book&item_ASIN=0446504122&author=Po%20Bronson&SubscriptionId=0JN0QHH0QAG4YVY4FY02
Here are the first few phrases of my review:
‘Conservative agenda by non-scientists.: (2009-09-20)
New York Magazine journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman team up to add commentary and more information to their articles in this new book published by Twelve, a division of the Hachette Book Group.
The last page of the book has this blurb about Twelve:’
I expect this situation to be resolved by Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 by 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (GMT – 5).
Thank you.
Christine Cavalier
christine [at] purplecar [dot] net

Today is Sunday. I didn’t expect a quick response, but a few minutes later I received this email from newandusedbooks.com:

“Dear Ms. Cavalier,
New and Previously Owned Books is an Amazon affiliate.  We have not “copied” anything from Amazon rather as an Amazon affiliate and by contract with Amazon, we receive by automatic “download” the books, book covers, reviews, prices, availability, etc. directly from Amazon.  We do not select what reviews to post on any given book – they are downloaded from Amazon.  We cannot control what Amazon puts on their site and we cannot add to their descriptions and cannot add a link to your blog within their downloaded review.
I hope this explains where the information is coming from and alleviates your concerns.
Vickie Denney
www.ReaderToReader.com”

I wrote back immediately, but have yet to hear a response:

“Dear M. Denney,
Thank you for writing with a prompt reply.
Does your server refresh the pages often? If we remove our content from Amazon, can we conclude that it will then be removed from your site?
-Christine Cavalier
christine [at] purplecar [dot] net

Then I went and deleted all 4 of the reviews I posted to Amazon.com, despite the reviews’ good ratings and conversations they generated.

Newandusedbooks.com passed the buck to Amazon, saying that the catalog content they lease from Amazon isn’t controlled by them (or their seemingly parent company readertoreader.com). Does Amazon strip the links before they sell the content? Or does newandusedbooks.com strip the links when they post the Amazon catalog content to their site? The response I received didn’t answer these questions, and I don’t think my follow-up email will get much of a response, either.

I don’t need to pour over Amazon’s Terms of Service. I can already guess that Amazon has standard legalese that states they own the content of all reader reviews on their site. I proceeded to delete all my reviews and decided that the few links back to my profile or blog aren’t worth it. My stats never showed very many links back to my blog from Amazon, and I don’t need to spend time building up a “reputation” on Amazon as a good reviewer.

I know, I know. I’ve been blogging since 2004, I should’ve known better. I was thinking it was an even trade-off for the potential in new blog readership. I didn’t think Amazon would sell my content without at least a link back to the original content on its own site.

This is one of those situations that critics Andrew Keen, @AmandaChapel, et al., cite when they bemoan the current practice of online retailers using free content by amateurs. Readers write free reviews on Amazon and Amazon sells them along with their catalog content to book selling sites. The Publisher’s Weekly reviews are also on Amazon, but Amazon doesn’t lease out that content because Publisher’s Weekly tells Amazon they must pay for that work. The lone avid reader/blogger has no team of lawyers looking after them like that. Amazon and other sites take advantage of readers’ want for connection, or fame, or whatever misguided motivations and sell their very-marketable, worthy content for their own profit.

What do you think of this? Has this happened to you? Do you use copyright protection on your work? Let me know in the comments.

As for me, I say, “Bye-Bye, Amazon.” Now I’m going over to Goodreads.com to see if their revenue model is based on members’ free reviews.

UPDATE: 27 Sept 2009 4:39 pm:
Readertoreader.com wrote back (I have a feeling they aren’t too tech savvy over there and are just guessing. Or they are assuming *I* am not tech savvy):

“Christine,

Yes.  As the information is “downloaded” from Amazon; whatever you do to the review (add or remove) will be reflected on our site when Amazon updates their page(s).

Best,

Vickie Denney
www.ReaderToReader.com”

UPDATE: 28 Sept 2009 5:33pm Amazon Customer Service writes back. Here is my original note to them from Sunday 27 Sept. and then their response, dated 28 Sept.

My email to Amazon:

Dear Amazon,
I am writing about a case of copyright violation against Amazon and myself. Please forward to the correct department.
Are you aware that the site, http://newandusedbooks.com/ , is pilfering all the customer reviews on Amazon and posting them as their own? There is no link or credit being issued to the authors of the reviews or to Amazon.com.
I have found the review I wrote on NurtureShock by Bronson and Merryman on the New and Used Books site. New and Used Books didn’t link to my blog or to the review I posted on Amazon. I have written them a cease and desist email and told them I would be contacting Amazon. I also noticed that the other reviews the site lists are reviews that are found on Amazon.com.
Here is the link to the copyright violation for the NurtureShock review on newandusedbooks.com:
http://newandusedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=zmore&manu=Twelve&prodGroup=Book&item_ASIN=0446504122&author=Po%20Bronson&SubscriptionId=0JN0QHH0QAG4YVY4FY02
Is Amazon affiliated with New and Used Books.com? Is this a violation of Amazon’s Terms of Use? Please advise.
Thank you.
Christine Cavalier

Amazon’s response:

Thank you for contacting us about this issue. We can appreciate your concerns; however, in this instance, the reviews showing up on this web site is within our guidelines.

When you post content to the Amazon.com site, you grant Amazon a right to distribute that content, and to use the name that you submit in connection with your content.  For more details, please refer to the Conditions of Use page found here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=508088

If you would rather any or all of your reviews not appear outside of Amazon.com, the best solution would be to delete them via Your Profile. To find your Profile, click “Your Amazon.com” at the top of any Amazon.com page and then click the “Your Profile” link in the blue navigation bar.  On Your Profile, you’ll find a list of your reviews as well as other community content you’ve provided. Under the list of reviews, click “See all reviews.” You’ll then see a list of your reviews and “Edit review” and “Delete review” options. Clicking the “Delete review” button will take you to a confirmation page.  Clicking “yes” on the confirmation page will delete the review. Your review should be deleted from the website shortly.

I hope this information is helpful to you and addresses your concerns.  Thank you for choosing Amazon.com.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-y?c=betuhqrg3450546415
If not, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-n?c=betuhqrg3450546415

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Joe G.
Amazon.com
We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company
http://www.amazon.com/your-account

Did Amazon just admit they violated their own TOS? The phrase ”
When you post content to the Amazon.com site, you grant Amazon a right to distribute that content, and to use the name that you submit in connection with your content” implies that my name is not stripped from my work, as it was on the newandusedbooks.com site.

I’m clicking on the “If not” option. I’ll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE 29 Sept 2009: Amazon says they own all.
I clicked the “If not” option, which sent me to a new trouble ticket screen. Here is what I wrote:

CUSTOMER: Christine Cavalier
COMM ID:betuhqrg3450546415
EMAIL: christine [at] purplecar [dot] net
COMMENTS: You said this in an email to me: “When you post content to the Amazon.com site, you grant Amazon a right to distribute that content, and to use the name that you submit in connection with your content.”
But you sold my content (a book review) and did NOT include my name. All identifying information from the review sold to newandusedbooks.com was stripped. Did you violate your own terms of service?

Here’s is what Amazon wrote back:

From:     cust [dot] service03 [at] amazon [dot] com
Subject:     Your Amazon.com Inquiry
Date:     September 29, 2009 4:08:17 PM EDT
To:     christine [at] purplecar [dot] net
Greetings from Amazon.com.

Thank you for writing back to us about this issue.

The full quote from our Conditions of Use that was referenced in our previous message is included below:

“If you do post content or submit material, and unless we indicate otherwise, you grant Amazon a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such content throughout the world in any media. You grant Amazon and sublicensees the right to use the name that you submit in connection with such content, if they choose.”

The ‘…if they choose’ part at the end indicates we can decide to include whatever identifiable information you submitted, or not.  I’m very sorry for any frustration this causes.

Again you are welcome to delete any content you have submitted at any time.  In turn, the content would later be removed any third-party sites that were legitimately using the content.

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to provide any further insight or action in this matter.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-y?c=hucugvtg3453102235
If not, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-n?c=hucugvtg3453102235

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Jeff G.
Amazon.com
We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company
http://www.amazon.com/your-account

Somehow I don’t think Jeff G. or Amazon is “sorry.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dean W 27 September 2009, 3:37 pm

    I would have sent (would still send!) an invoice to Newandusedbooks. Money pretty much always speaks louder than words – especially deleted ones!

    • PurpleCar 27 September 2009, 3:49 pm

      Sending them an invoice would just be an experiment, and ending up being an experiment in futility I’m sure. But if my review is still up on newandusedbooks.com without credit in 3 business days, I will send them an invoice.

      This is a legal hole, I think. Amazon says they own the content and can sell it (I’m assuming), so newandusedbooks.com will refer me to that policy. Still, it doesn’t seem that newandusedbooks have set up protection from this. I’m not a barister or a lawyer, so I don’t know. It would be interesting to find out. The point of contention is that they removed the links. Amazon lets you have a link in exchange for the review, but they let their affiliates remove those links. That seems unfair.

      I may call up my intellectual property lawyer friend about this.

      • Hugh-small 31 May 2011, 6:55 am

        Christine
        I understand from the comments above that reviewers on Amazon can incorporate links to their own web site in the reviews. Is this true? I thought Amazon did not allow this or deleted them? I can’t find it in the Amazon rules.

        • PurpleCar 31 May 2011, 9:37 am

          I haven’t looked back at Amazon’s policy since I wrote this post. It may have changed by now. I do recall that I had problems using links, even though I know how to write the html link href syntax.

          I would suggest writing to Amazon specifically to ask before I wrote anything for them. 
           
          -Christine

          • Hugh-small 31 May 2011, 10:00 am

            Thanks for the reply.

  • thomast 27 September 2009, 8:10 pm

    Amazon’s position on this isn’t particularly hard to find or hard to understand. It’s in their conditions of use. Paragraph two of the “REVIEWS, COMMENTS, COMMUNICATIONS, AND OTHER CONTENT” section:

    If you do post content or submit material, and unless we indicate otherwise, you grant Amazon a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such content throughout the world in any media. You grant Amazon and sublicensees the right to use the name that you submit in connection with such content, if they choose.

    Crummy policy, indeed, but there it is. The “irrevocable” part means that deleting the reviews doesn’t obligate them to stop distributing them either on their own site or sublicensees’, though in practice they almost certainly will. It is a nonexclusive license, so you do retain copyright, which you can use elsewhere however you see fit. I think you’ve now made an informed decision, which is far more than most other Amazon users do – you’ve decided that the value that Amazon offers in exchange for the license (exposure, publication, and link-backs if they feel like it) they demand is worth less than the value of your work. Bravo. I don’t review regularly on Amazon, and don’t make my living from writing, but I might very well come to a different, but equally well-informed, decision.

    One quibble, with your description of “fair use” above. Fair use refers to allowed use of material under copyright without any implied or explicit license. Credited uses of excerpts for the sake of commentary, satire, etc. are fair use, and would be allowed regardless of your license. If a site which sells stuff cited a paragraph from your review of NurtureShock as part of a longer review, they would be making fair use of your content, and you wouldn’t be able to rely on the non-commercial clause of your CC license to make them stop. When non-commercial sites use the entirety of one of your blog posts, with the specified attribution, they are making licensed use of your content under the CC license that you granted them, not fair use. Just as Amazon and NewAndUsedBooks.com were making licensed use of your work, albeit under a different license whose terms Amazon, not you as the author, set. Your FairShare alerts probably turn up both fair uses and licensed uses of your work, and it’s important to know the difference.

    • PurpleCar 27 September 2009, 9:14 pm

      Thomas, thanks so much!

      Firstly, good work on the Amazon TOS. I was hoping someone like you would find the exact paragraph in all that muck. My gratitude!

      Secondly, thanks for clarifying “fair use.” Will think about revising my post to cut out the unofficial use of it. Can’t do that right at this moment but I will look at it soon. (Not a big fan of major editing after posting, so I may just publish an “Update” of your useful information.) Again, my thanks.

      Thirdly, yes, you’re correct, Amazon can still publish my work even though I deleted it, but deleting it is my little form of protest. Also, it’s my hope that their huge infrastructure will re-claim the dinky white (disk) space and truly delete the work, or at least remove it from the freely-referenced content. I’m not privvy to their infrastructure design, but I know as a former sys admin that it’s possible that my deleting the work may keep it from being distributed again.

  • Mike S. 29 September 2009, 7:04 pm

    Interesting — and good to know. Thanks!

    • PurpleCar 29 September 2009, 10:22 pm

      No problem Mike! You know me (literally!). I’m a font of information. Or copied and pasted emails, which pretty much constitute “information” nowadays.

      Thanks for stopping in!

      ________________________________

  • peterdurwardharris 8 November 2009, 5:32 pm

    I am sad to hear that you get so upset over this issue. I have posted a substantial number of reviews on Amazon on several of their sites, but especially in Britain and America. My reviews are on more websites than I care to imagine because of the Amazon affiliate rules, but it doesn’t bother me. I never expected to make money from my reviews although I have benefited a little by being offered free stuff to review, most of which I don’t accept as it’s not what interests me.

    I eventually became an Amazon affiliate myself but I haven’t exactly exploited it. I make a modest amount of money that I receive as credit to buy stuff from Amazon. At one time, I looked into the rules for posting Amazon reviews on my own blogs. I discovered that these rules are actually quite strict and I couldn’t just cherry-pick which reviews I wanted. In fact, although Amazon reserve the right to do anything and everything, affiliates are restricted to taking reviews off the main product pages, and they must refresh their affiliate pages at regular intervals. If you’re familiar with Amazon’s product pages, you’ll know that some products have hundreds of reviews. Only a few of them are featured on the main product page, the rest being buried on continuation pages – or back pages, as reviewers call them. Reviews on back pages can’t be used by affiliates. Reading what you’ve posted, it seems that even the reviews on the main page can only be used in the way that Amazon supplies them. So while Amazon’s TOS make it appear that they can do what they like with my reviews, that’s just a catch-all piece of legal jargon. From an affiliate perspective, things are somewhat different.

    Amazon do not own the copright to my reviews. I own the copyright, but by posting my reviews to Amazon, I have granted them nonexclusive rights to distribute those reviews. The nonexclusive bit is crucial – it means that I can post my reviews (or quote from them) elsewhere, and I can give permission for other people to use my review on their own website or blog, whether or not they are an Amazon affiliate. On my own blogs, I prefer to post links to the Amazon Permalink pages containing my reviews, rather than to copy and paste my actual reviews. (There are several reasons for this, not least that if I edit my Amazon review, I don’t have to edit my blog version). If I choose, I can use this method to discuss other people’s reviews, since I’m merely linking to an Amazon page rather than copying from it. But I rarely do that.

    As far as I know, Amazon do not sell the reviews they distribute. The affiliate scheme makes money for Amazon on the products sold. So if you buy something from Amazon having arrived there through a link provided by an affiliate AFTER signing into Amazon, the affiliate gets a small commission but you pay the same price as if you’d signed in to Amazon in the standard way. Amazon presumably get extra traffic through these affiliates so this extra traffic pays for the commission.

    I am sad that you have decided not to review on Amazon, but that’s your decision. As a prolific reviewer, I have made contacts around the world as well as getting those freebies. I’ve also had plenty of aggravation but the pleasures outweigh the aggravation otherwise I’d have quit years ago.

    One other thing – Amazon never truly delete anything as far as I know. Your deleted reviews are still there, hiding from view. Amazon even remembers the dates, so if you decide one day to review the same products from the same account, they’ll be given the dates of the original reviews. Somehow, I don’t think you’ll be doing that.

    • PurpleCar 8 November 2009, 8:06 pm

      Peter, thanks for your thoughtful response.

      Amazon does, in fact, sell your reviews. This is a different system than affiliate selling.

      Amazon charges sites to access their catalog. Along with the catalog, they include some reviews. I’m not privvy to the formula (or what coders call “algorithms”) that choose which reviews get packaged along with the catalog, but be assured that the user reviews are offered as a part of that catalog. Amazon would sell less catalog rentals if people stopped writing free reviews for them. The reviews are what set them apart from other ISBN/product code catalogs.

      This really comes down to how one views the internet and how to use it. Reviews are work. Getting the “freebies” of which you speak is now a forbidden practice, as per new FTC “guidelines.”

      I’m not in it for free books. I can get my books from the library or buy them myself. The amount of “freebies” of stuff I don’t even want or have space for doesn’t compensate me for the work of reviews. You obviously don’t have the same opinion about that, and that’s cool. Lots of people enjoy seeing their name in the Amazon review areas, even if their reviews end up on the back pages. The thrill of that for me faded a long time ago.

      -PC

      ________________________________

    • Sharon 31 January 2010, 3:12 pm

      Hi, I have a question. I wrote a review for a book on Amazon, but decided to remove that review (for personal reasons). Shortly after I removed the review from Amazon, I learned one of the authors of the book had my review, which he copied from the Amazon site, posted on his website without my permission. Now, he is claiming he is a “sublicensee” of Amazon and has a right to use my review as he see’s fit.

      Anyone know if the author of a book offered for sale on Amazon, is considered an “affiliate” and/or a “sublicensee” of Amazon? I appreciate any thoughts on this.
      Thanks! Sharon

      • PurpleCar 31 January 2010, 4:13 pm

        Sharon,

        You should write to Amazon and tell them that this author has taken content from their site. I wouldn’t take his word about being a licensee of the work. If you deleted the review, it shouldn’t be there for the author’s taking.
        Good luck and let me know how it goes.

        -Christine Cavalier, PurpleCar

        ________________________________

      • peterdurwardharris 31 January 2010, 5:35 pm

        I second what PurpleCar just said on this. If you see your review somewhere and you aren’t sure whether the site is entitled to use it, check with Amazon.

        • Sharon 31 January 2010, 6:11 pm

          Hi Christine and Peter,

          Thank you for the feedback. I am going to write to Amazon to clarify the situation. I did go to Amazon’s “Partication Agreement” which is for those who sell product, and it clearly states they are also under the same privacy terms as the buyer, or in my case, the one who wrote a review. In one section of the agreement, it clearly distinguishes between an Affiliate and a Participant, so I asked the author to clarify whether he was an Affiliate or a Participant. He called me deceptive and a few other choice things and didn’t answer the question, so there isn’t much cooperation on their end. But, if I find out they have violated my copyright on the review, then they have more to lose than I because they could lose their right to sell the book at Amazon. I don’t know if they’ve even thought about it that far down the road or not. Who knows.

          Thanks again for the feedback. When I get this straightened out, I’ll let you know the results.

          Sharon

          • mike 31 January 2010, 6:38 pm

            Sharon,

            >>He called me deceptive and a few other choice things and didn’t answer the question, so there isn’t much cooperation on their end.

            I believe that Bugs Bunny would say “What a maroon!” Why would he want to start a fight over this?

            Good luck w/ your battle — I hope you prevail. Irrespective of whether or not he is legally right, it bothers me that he is using a deleted review against the review author’s wishes to enrich himself.

            • PurpleCar 31 January 2010, 8:56 pm

              Yeah, I have to agree with Mike.

              It’s not in the book author’s best interest to use a review that the writer wants removed. He’s innocent to the ways of Google. You could, if you were so evilly inclined, “google bomb” him and his site with horrible reviews, etc. If he were a smart author, he’d comply with your wishes immediately. It isn’t worth the risk of pissing off Amazon and it isn’t worth the risk of pissing off the wrong, ultra-connected person on the web. This guy sounds crazy, though. Book sales are so touch and go these
              days. Authors don’t want to make stupid moves like make a fan angry … it
              will wind up on Facebook, Live Journal, MySpace, Twitter, etc. You
              don’t want the first entry of a Google search to return anything but
              your website.

              Write to Amazon, but perhaps also write the book author a C&D letter. A Cease and Desist letter is quite effective in most cases. It’s a legal letter that is an official warning by you to the offender. It’s a matter of due course in a legal case. Judges will expect you to give a person fair warning before you sue them. If you need templates of a C&D letter, just search the internet or ask around. A lawyer can write one for you too, for usually a small fee. If you have a friend who is a lawyer, have them write it for you but sign your own name. Send it to the book author. Most people will immediately stop using your content once they get a C&D.

              Good luck.
              -Christine Cavalier, PurpleCar
              http://www.purplecar.net/

              ________________________________

              • Sharon 31 January 2010, 11:41 pm

                Hi Christine,

                I did write to Amazon and explained the situation. Hopefully I will hear back from them soon. Peter mentioned something about Amazon still might have my book review somewhere in the back pages, even though I deleted it already? I am hoping they do. If not, perhaps I will get a solid answer from them about whether the author is an “Affiliate” or not. Armed with that information, I’ve made my case. From the quick turn the authors legal counsel made away from the agreement issue, I think I hit a nerve on that point. Time will tell.

                There are ways to make his life miserable, but so far I like the C&D letter idea. While googling on this topic, I saw one somewhere. Now all I have to do is find my way back to it again! I wonder how long before I hear from Amazon?

                Thanks for the well wishes Christine. I’m glad I happened across your site here. :o)

                Sharon

            • Sharon 31 January 2010, 10:55 pm

              Hi Mike,

              He is a “maroon!” lol Who knows what his reasons are for digging in heels on this. What he keeps telling me is, he has the right to do so. His lawyer and I are in a dialogue and I’m beginning to wonder about his capabilities. He shared some of his research with me and he is citing cases from 1966, 1986, 1981, and the youngest one being 1991. Sorry, but I find this hilarious! And they don’t even apply to our issue! Rather than simply tell me what kind of agreement he has with Amazon, he has switched gears, claiming Fair Use now. I have a sneaking suspicion I hit onto something with that “Participation Agreement” In most cases, Fair Use would not allow for the copying of the complete book review. He also said that since I quoted from their book (very minimal), I don’t see them “whining”! lol Oh, and once I used any of their quotes, my book review is fair game. It’s really been something else.

              BTW, I know both of these fellows (on the internet, not in person) and have for awhile. I’ve recently changed some of my views and they are not playing nice now that I’m (in their eyes) some kind of enemy. So there is some personal stuff going on in the midst of this but I’m not mixing the two and have limited my talks about the copyright issue to their uh… legal counsel. (I still can’t get over the dates on these case’s he is bringing up! Anyone can google and find more current information about copyright laws! Goodness! lol)

              Thanks for well wishes!

              Sharon

  • recovering-scotch-addict 14 June 2012, 8:27 pm

    I know that this is an old thread, but Christine, can I just respectfully point out that you acted like a complete dick here. You wrote a review, ffs. A review, not a book. An unsolicited review at that.

    And Amazon used the review as specified by the stipulations contained within their T&C. As you subsequent comments below show, you don’t even have a strong grasp on the concept, beyond the fact that you should be able to monetize your review (actually, you could, as my 6k odd review and blog can attest to).

    I guess the Amazon boardroom must’ve been in turmoil when you announced that you would no longer write reviews on their site. Oh well, I guess the world’s largest book seller had to change their whole marketing strategy in the wake of your silly little tantrum – oh wait, they didn’t.

    • PurpleCar 15 June 2012, 7:32 am

      Dear Recovering-Scotch-Addict,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I usually don’t respond to commenters who throw out the accusation of “dick,” but I will just give you the benefit of the doubt and look past that particularly rude bit for the sake of discussion. I’m sure you didn’t mean it to sound like it did.
      I decided to not undervalue myself or my writing in order to give it away to Amazon to sell. If Amazon didn’t sell it, I’d write reviews for them. Users who write reviews on Amazon don’t realize that Amazon is taking advantage of that altruism, that Amazon is monetizing their good deed. That was the point of my blog post.

      At the core of this debate is the design and expectations of users versus that of the companies on the Internet. Free content or paid content? Volunteer workers or paid workers? People own their data or companies own people’s data?
      Obviously, one extreme or the other won’t work. We expect companies to know our preferences and we want our goods cheap but we don’t want them to sell our data to other companies. We want our content for free but we don’t want to write for free.
      I understood the Amazon TOS. I used to write TOS, training materials, etc., as well as being a server administrator. I get it. The TOS at the time, as I recall, was typically and purposefully vague about the attribution of reviews. I was under the impression that yes, Amazon would rent out customer reviews, but they would include the links back. Now, it’s possible that this vendor that used my un-attributed review stripped the links, because they figured they paid Amazon enough for the data and didn’t need to link back to Amazon. I get that, also.
      But that doesn’t fix things for me, as a writer, as a content producer, as a person of the Internet. My interests and the interests of other Internet users are not represented in this fight, and that was my point.
      Users do get free content, sure, but I’m not a fan of too much free content, either. For example, I happily pay my $29.95/year for my Merriam Webster’s online subscription that includes all the etymologies of each word, along with other great features. Simple definitions can be free, but the in-depth content shouldn’t be. I wanted other users to be aware of what, truly, they were getting themselves into. Educating users on the benefits and dangers of the Internet is one of the main purposes of PurpleCar.
      So I guess for me, and probably for you too, judging by your boardroom image, the real issue is about quality. Quality reviews should be paid, or, at the very least, linked back. Always. Amazon could do the right thing here and find a way to better represent their customers/volunteer workers. Any company with some vision will work toward good customer relations, because users are getting more and more savvy as the years go by. Amazon won’t get any quality reviews and their comments will sink to YouTube levels. This is already starting; People disregard reviews more and more because they are free and unsolicited. Amazon’s reviews will get a reputation for being base and useless.
      I hope this lends a bit more light on my thought process.

      As an aside, perhaps you should rethink your tone when commenting. I’m sure you’d get more stimulating discussions going if you dropped the pre-millennial-Internet troll act and just stated your point respectfully. You’ll get blocked less, too. Don’t surf angry, Dude.

      Good luck and thanks for stumbling upon my little blog. I can’t imagine how you found it!

      -PurpleCar

    • Mike_S_Htown 17 June 2012, 4:12 pm

       Recovering Scotch Addict,

      I am so glad to hear that you’re recovering!  I see you have a long way to go — especially re: learning common courtesy skills that sober people need — but I want you to know that your Internet friends are pulling for you!

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