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Amazon Files for Arbitration Against Authors, Publishers for Scamming the Kindle Store

Do you know all those articles David Gaughran has been writing about scammers gaming their way on to the Kindle best-seller lists?

Judging by David’s tweets, Amazon has not been successful in taking direct action in cleaning up the Kindle Store, but now they are pulling out the big guns.

Geekwire reports that Amazon has filed arbitration demands against a number of companies and authors:

Amazon has filed arbitration demands against several book authors, publishers and marketers, alleging that they abused the Kindle Direct Publishing system to artificially inflate their profits and sales rankings.

The five arbitration demands, filed Wednesday with the American Arbitration Association, make a variety of allegations, including fraudulent customer reviews, the creation of fake user accounts and other schemes to increase rankings and royalties on the company’s self-publishing platform for e-books.

One of the demands, for example, alleges that a man from the Philippines offered a service to authors to boost the number of pages read in their books using hundreds of fake Amazon customer accounts, in exchange for a 40 percent cut of their profits. Amazon pays authors who participate in the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program using a formula based on pages read.

The company is seeking injunctions preventing the authors and publishers from continuing the alleged activity, as well as attorney’s fees and financial damages to be determined through arbitration.

You can find the filings on Scribd:

The thing about arbitration is that it is as binding as a court ruling, only without the numerous rounds pre-trial motions and post-trial appeals, so Amazon will likely secure decisions against these parties fairly quickly. (Obviously, enforcing the decisions is another matter entirely.)

Various kinds of scams (as opposed to garden variety fraud and copyright infringement) have been plaguing the Kindle Store since shortly after the launch of Kindle Unlimited. Amazon fought the scammers by changing the best-seller algorithm and payment system for Kindle Unlimited several times, but the scammers were always one step ahead.

And now Amazon has triggered the nuclear option.

This is the first time Amazon has taken legal action against Kindle Store scammers, but in the past it has filed numerous lawsuits against sellers of fake reviews while at the same time removing whole swathes of reviews.

Let’s hope the rounds of arbitration is more successful than the fight against fake reviews (I’m still finding them.)

image by Joe Gratz

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Mackay Bell September 7, 2017 um 3:12 pm

Unfortunately, stopping scammers is going to be a version of Whack-a-Mole, but it’s nice Amazon is trying. They might curtail some of the worst abuse, at least until some figures out the next scam.

Tony Acree September 11, 2017 um 5:42 pm

I am the owner and publisher of Hydra Publications and we want people to know the company listed, Hydra Enterprises, is not us. We are in no way affiliated with the company and their alleged conduct. We applaud Amazon’s aggressive pursuit of any person or company who is scamming the Kindle Unlimited program.

Ellen Anthony September 12, 2017 um 10:49 pm

I would like to Kindle Unlimited discontinued. It’s not to the advantage of any author and it’s subject to scams.

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