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The New Stuff

Amazon Effectively BANS All Public Domain E-Books

With a new twist due to some people (translate, whiners) complaining they could get public domain books free online, Amazon has basically banned public domain books. Even more, they have gone above and beyond, and basically said they don't care if the work is a derivative and therefore, copyrightable by the Library of Congress. First, Let's understand what is allowed according to their terms: In order to provide a better customer buying experience, our policy is to not publish undifferentiated versions of public domain titles where a free version is available in our store. We consider works to be differentiated when one or more of the following criteria are met: • (Translated) - A unique translation • (Annotated) - Contains annotations (unique, hand-crafted additional content including study guides, literary critiques, detailed biographies, or detailed historical context) • (Illustrated) - Includes 10 or more unique illustrations relevant to the book Books that meet this criteria must include (Translated), (Annotated), or (Illustrated) in the title field. OK, I can go with that, but then they changed it up just enough to destroy any republishing of public domain books online, and not just books, but ANYTHING that someone can find online. That's where my problem with Amazon comes in: Examples of some features we do not consider to be differentiated include a linked table of contents, formatting improvements, collections, sales rank, price, and freely available Internet content.. You might ask what they mean by "collections." It's a fair enough question. Here's the answer: Please note that we are currently not accepting anthologies or collections of public domain titles if any part of the collection is freely available in our store. The same is true for individually published stories, chapters or poems that are part of a complete work. Here is the bottom line. If you compile a book of love letter from online sources, you would not be allowed to publish it, although by any measure of the word it is a new work according to the Library of Congress. Why? Because if you go by Amazon's rule, the information is "freely" available on the Internet. I am not talking about you just taking a book and republishing it, but real editing stuff and compiling the letters from 100 different books being given away online. Why? Because the content is in there. The only work around is to translate it, annotate it, or illustrate it. Let's talk about illustrations. It can not be from ANY public domain source who is giving the book away. It has to be "unique." Though I understand the logic of Amazon, I think they went way overboard when they exceeded what the Library of Congress considers to be differentiated enough. Granted there was a problem with some unscrupulous people scraping Wikipedia and such, but they knew who they were and all they had to do what shut them down. As for people complaining, from what I have observed in the forums, it is competitors who have an interest in getting others shut down.