Reported the Stolen Audiobooks to ACX and They Sent Me Directly to Amazon

I got an email back from ACX today. I removed the name of the representative, but here is what the person wrote:

I am sorry to hear that one of your works is being sold on Audible without your consent. We take claims of copyright and piracy issues very seriously.

As part of the Amazon family, any reports of Copyright issues should be sent to Amazon directly. Please go to https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=508088 and view the section “Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement” for the information and form to complete to report infringement.

Please let us know if there is anything additional we can assist with.If you need more help, contact us, we’re here from 9am to 7pm ET, Mon-Fri.
Have a nice afternoon and take care!

So I followed the link, and after going to another link and I think one more, I finally got to the form I needed to fill out. I find it amazing (in a bad way) that they make theft so EASY on the scammer, but they make it HARD for the innocent party to report the theft.

A quick rant about exclusivity on Amazon:

I’ve had readers ask me when I’ll be in KU (Kindle Unlimited). The answer is NEVER. I will never ever in a million years put any of my books in KU unless they remove their exclusive restrictions. I will never be exclusive to Amazon. Amazon has given me the runaround on protecting my own work since 2011. Words can’t describe how upset I am with Amazon. They never should link up books from their site to ACX if they are NOT going to respect copyright infringement claims over there.

Plus, their copyright infringement form is not easy to figure out. I had to tell everyone in my house to leave me alone for a good 30 minutes while I waded my way through the process. But all someone has to do on ACX is click a little checkbox saying they have the rights to my book, and within a second, they can claim it as theirs. I am fed up. This is complete and utter nonsense.

I don’t care how many readers will only read KU books. To me, the money lost is not worth it. I will get a job outside the house before I join KU. I know some authors are afraid to speak up against Amazon because Amazon might hurt their sales by lowering visibility over on their site, but what good is any of this when they are more than willing to hand over money from my work to a thief? When someone steals your book, even if you manage to get Amazon to remove it, you never get paid that money lost. I think Amazon keeps it. I don’t think they ever reimburse the people who bought the stolen book. So what has Amazon to lose if they let scammers do this crap?

The best way authors can vote against this nonsense is to avoid putting books in KU. Put your books on all retailers. Build up the competition. If the competition goes away, imagine what Amazon will be like. They’re already doing this other stuff. They make innocent authors jump through all these hoops to protect their books. To date, I have spent almost $10,000 registering the copyright on my books. That includes the registration fee, buying the two paperbacks per registration, and mailing it to the US Copyright Office. I have almost 100 books out. This stuff adds up. I never know which book the thieves will target, so I have to do this for every single book.

Alright, to filing the copyright infringement complaint on Amazon itself:

Anyway, I did fill out the form. I went to the link the ACX person sent me to:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=508088#GUID-32F0D8DC-150F-4394-921F-77B2DB58A4F8__SECTION_61204EC3A0D64C09820BE2BC332A4AFA

I had to scroll all the way to the bottom to get to this:

NOTICE AND PROCEDURE FOR MAKING CLAIMS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INFRINGEMENT

If you believe that your intellectual property rights have been infringed, please submit your complaint using our online form. This form may be used to report all types of intellectual property claims including, but not limited to, copyright, trademark, and patent claims.

I clicked on the “form” link, and it took me to this url: https://www.amazon.com/report/infringement

Why couldn’t the ACX rep just send me directly to that link? Why make me wade through all of the other stuff to get to the form I needed? I think I know the answer. They just threw up a canned response they give everyone, whether they are claiming infringement on a trademark, a patent, copyright, etc.

Anyway, I filled out the form.

I gave them the US Copyright Registration numbers for both books, and then I added this message:

I am Ruth Ann Nordin. I wrote the two books An Unlikely Place for Love and A Most Unsuitable Earl. I have registered these books with the US Copyright Office. Someone who is going by “Leon Publishing” on your site has scammed two narrators into making audiobooks off my work. I did NOT give “Leon Publishing” my permission to do this. “Leon Publishing” has stolen my work and has done this without my permission. I ask that you remove these books. I do not hold this against the narrators. They honestly believed it was me.

Here is the link of the stolen audiobooks: https://www.audible.com/search?searchProvider=Leon+Publishing&ref=a_pd_A-Most_c1_publisher&pf_rd_p=52918805-f7fc-40f4-a76b-cf1c79f7d10a&pf_rd_r=AFGD7C0REVEVXP40MQHC

Here is the fake profile “Leon Publishing” created pretending to be me: https://www.audible.com/author/Ruth-Ann-Nordin/B002BM2VVQ?ref=a_search_c3_lAuthor_1_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6

I then linked to the direct links on Amazon in the form since they wanted the ASIN:

Stolen Audiobook direct link to Amazon for A Most Unsuitable Earl: https://www.amazon.com/Most-Unsuitable-Earl-Marriage-Scandal/dp/B08B77J33C/

Stolen Audiobook direct link to Amazon for An Unlikely Place for Love: https://www.amazon.com/Unlikely-Place-Love-Virginia-Collection/dp/B08BX7Q391/

Final thoughts:

Now, I didn’t add this in the form, but I did notice something of interest while on the audiobook description pages of the stolen audiobooks.

At the bottom, the thief put this: ©2012 Ruth Ann Nordin (P)2020 Leong Singh

I suspect that person is following my blog posts because they actually told one of the narrators that “I” decided to make audiobooks to stop the thief from stealing them. This narrator reported this incident to ACX, which I am thankful for. I think this bought me time to claim my books as soon as I realized I could do that.

Well, I am going to publicly make an announcement on this blog. I have decided to go into making audiobooks, but I’m not going to say which ones until they’re done. I have contacted two narrators who I met along the way of this whole ordeal that I decided would be wonderful people to work with. The other narrators were all great, too. But I can only handle two with my hectic schedule. On top of writing, I also have a husband and kids that need my time. So I had to choose which ones to go with. But I’m not doing it to stop people like Leong Singh. I’m doing it because I love my books and I like these two narrators, and I figured, “Why not?”

For me, this pursuit is not about money. It’s about doing something that probably will be enjoyable. Writing is why I started this. I love writing. But in the process of publishing books and getting out there, I have met some incredible people along the way. I met cover artists, editors, other authors, beta readers, readers, and now I’m meeting narrators. To me, the relationship factor of getting to know these people have been deeply rewarding. I value those relationships, and I will take on projects for the opportunity to work with wonderful people.

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Check ACX to Make Sure Your Books Haven’t Been Scammed

I went to Facebook and told other writers that scammers were taking my books and pretending to be me in order to trick innocent narrators into making them into audiobooks. I added a warning that narrators have told me this has happened to them by scammers who were pretending to be other authors, too. So I knew I wasn’t the only author hit by this. I was shocked, however, to find out how often this scam occurs over there. Indie authors aren’t the only ones hit, either. Even major publishers have fallen victim to this.

One author in a writing group on Facebook recommended that I “claim” my books in ACX so that scammers can’t take them. I had no idea I could even do this. So after some back and forth in the group, I figured out how to do this, and I’m going to pass this information along to anyone who might want to go to ACX and claim their books so scammers don’t get them.

I have been able to claim most of them. There were two situations where I couldn’t claim them. 1. Two of my books have been stolen and made into audiobooks. I reported those two books to ACX already. 2. The others I was unable to claim have been disabled from being able to be made into audiobooks. These were the same titles narrators had told me were up for auditions. I had contacted ACX about them, and I think this is why those are disabled. At least ACX shut those books down before the scammer could get away with doing those. Also, I think it helped that at least one narrator contacted ACX. I don’t know if more than one did, but I know one who did for sure.

Anyway, it appears that ACX automatically puts our books on their site. I didn’t realize this. All of my books were over there. Other people’s books are there, too. All a scammer has to do it claim the book they want, and then they can arrange for it to be auditioned. This is how easy the scam is. I suspect the scammer has to have a copy of the book to send to the narrator (though I am not familiar with the process since I’ve never been through it). In my case, the scammer was only picking my free books. I noticed that none of the narrators who contacted me were approached with my paid books. The scammer(s) only seemed interested in the free ones. So that was interesting to note.

Claiming the books is a tedious and long process, so if you have a lot of books, set aside a few hours. I had so many books that I had to break my time up. I claimed the ebook and paperback version of my book. All claiming a book does is put your book in production. So you have started the process of making an audiobook, but you haven’t finished it. So your book will be stuck “in production”. If you ever decide to have an audiobook made, this will at least get you started in the process.

If you want to claim your book in ACX so a thief can’t get to it, I’m going to tell you what to do. An author on Facebook was kind enough to explain how to do it to me and a few other authors because we didn’t know what to do.

The first thing you need to do is sign up for an account at https://www.acx.com/. I use the same account for publishing my books on KDP and for buying things off of Amazon, so I was able to connect up to ACX easily. ACX is an arm of Amazon.

In this example, I have two books I took screenshots of while claiming the book. One went through easily, and the other required more work.

When you find your book, look for the “This is my Book” option to the right of it. This is in purple. (In this case, I already had the ebook version claimed. Now I was claiming the paperback.)

This is what shows up next:

Since I have no intention of ever making an audiobook on ACX, I picked the second option (which is saying I already had the audio files). This is what the other author on Facebook said she did in order to keep her book in “production” status, so I did the same thing.

This is what happens next:

I selected non-exclusive even though I’ll never use ACX. Then I clicked continue.

Next, I got the page that asked me to say, “Yes, this is my book.” Then I clicked “agree and continue”.

Most of the time, this is all it takes to get the book “claimed”, but ACX is a bit wonky, so sometimes I had to keep going in order for the claim to “take”. (Make sure search ACX to see that you get the statement saying you claimed it.) This is what it should look like if it worked. In this case, I got my ebook and paperback covered.

In the case of Mitch’s Win, the “easy way” didn’t work. I clicked, “This is my book”, went through the exclusive or not page, and verify your rights to the book page. (I showed those above.) But when I went to check on Mitch’s Win in the search results, it still was not claimed.

So I went through the process all over again, but this time after I verified I was the owner of the book, I kept going. If you keep you, you’ll come to a page like this:

Sometimes the description comes up and sometimes it doesn’t. But then you have to fill out all the required boxes. This is what I did.

I listed myself as the narrator since it doesn’t matter what is in the box. I had to fill everything with the red asterisk in.

And at the bottom of the page, I clicked continue. That took me to this page:

I clicked to start adding my chapters. Then it takes you to a screen to list out your chapters or import them from the ebook on Amazon. I only put “C1” “C2” and then hit continue since I am not actually going to make this into an audiobook.

That took me to this page:

Now it’s verified that the book is in production. I checked the book on ACX and saw that it was claimed properly this time, too. I still like to double check. So now the book is in production. I think of this as a placeholder so that no one else can take it.

This is the only way I know of to prevent a thief from coming in and claiming our books as theirs. It’s really sad that authors have to go through such ridiculous hoops to protect their books, but thieves don’t care about stealing. To them, easy money is easy money, and they have no qualms about their shady dealings.

I guess my advice to narrators (if any are reading this) is to check with the author of the book to make sure the author is the one who set the book up for auditions. One of the narrators I came in contact with who spent her time into actually creating one of my books was heartbroken when she discovered what had happened. I was unable to find the other narrator to tell her that she’d been scammed. I searched online, but there was no easy way to find her. So I had to let that one go. But for the one I was able to communicate with, that was her first book, and she was so excited about it.

These thieves really upset me. I’ve had books stolen from me before. I remember how devastated I was when it happened. Now I just get pissed. I have to pay $55 for each book I publish in order to register them at the US Copyright Office. That adds up when you have almost 100 books. The US Copyright Office probably recognizes my name by now. I know some of you can’t afford to do it, but I feel like I have no choice. The US Copyright Registration letter was the only proof Amazon would accept last year when someone claimed that I stole my own book. For me, theft is a way of life in this indie world. I feel like I got a target on my head, and on some days, it is exhausting. I press on because I love writing. If I didn’t love it as much as I do, I’d be done with it. But this is my one real passion. I feel like God has put me here to write these books. So I continue. And I continue with the knowledge that there will probably be a next time. I don’t spend my days worrying over it happening. I just do what I can to be as prepared as I can be so that I have what I need to resolve the issues in my favor.

Regarding that narrator, though, I felt sick to my stomach. Innocent people shouldn’t have to go through this kind of thing. Honest people who are trying to make an honest living should be able to do their work without having the rug pulled out from under them. I can only hope that by claiming my books on ACX no other narrator will have to go through this with any more of my books. I’m hoping that claiming the books is the key to keeping writers and narrators safe.

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Caught a Scammer in the Act

Just to alert everyone, I caught one of the scammers (or maybe even the same one) in the act of their theft. Today on Facebook, a narrator shared “my” audiobook with me on my timeline. I notified the narrator that this scammer did not have my permission to make my book into an audiobook.

I feel really sorry for these narrators. I assume they don’t ask for money upfront since the scammers keep going to them in order to make these audiobooks. Scammers aren’t inclined to pay for anything. All they do is steal. And in this case, they are stealing my book AND stealing these narrators’ talent and time. This is not fair to me or the narrators.

You have to watch out for these thieves. They’re in abundance. I’ve have ebooks stolen and/or plagiarized. I’ve had a paperback stolen. Now they are convincing narrators to make audiobooks.

To set the record straight so there are no misunderstandings: I am NOT making audiobooks. I already explained why in a lengthy rant, so I won’t do it again. You can read that post here. After I wrote that post, a narrator contacted me and a scammer must have read my blog post because the scammer actually told this narrator, “I decided to make audiobooks to stop people from stealing my books.”

Nope. No, I did not decide to make audiobooks.

A quick not to narrators (if any are reading this): If I ever decide to make audiobooks, I will pay upfront for your services. I would never ask you to do anything for free. I value people’s time. I would not do a royalty-split because there would be no guarantees that the audiobook would sell. I want to make sure everyone who works for me (editor, cover artist, etc) gets paid. I don’t believe in asking for anyone to do something for free. I will offer something in return.

Back to the post…

Up to now, the narrators caught onto the scammer before the audiobook was created, but in this case, this scammer got away with it from two different narrators. I don’t know if it’s the same scammer who contacted the other five narrators about making my books into audio. This could be a group of them for all I know.

So, assuming that this scammer(s) is reading my blog post right now, I contacted ACX about this, and I let the narrators know they have been duped. You have stolen my hard work, and you have stolen from the time and talent of narrators who are trying to make an honest living. I realize you don’t care. I know this means nothing to you. For all I know, you’re laughing and thinking this whole thing is cute. But my message to you is this: there is a God in Heaven, and He will judge between you and me, and since you are in the wrong, He will deal with you. As the Bible says, He will avenge my case (and the narrators’ case) on my behalf. I’m leaving this at His feet. He has heard my prayer, and He will take care of things for me. You might get away with this for a while, but a day of reckoning will come, and you’ll be held accountable for your actions.

Regarding the scam, this is what the scammer(s) has been able to get away with so far:

The person (people) are going by the publishing name “Leon Publishing,” and this here is the page on Audible: https://www.audible.com/search?searchProvider=Leon+Publishing&ref=a_pd_A-Most_c1_publisher&pf_rd_p=52918805-f7fc-40f4-a76b-cf1c79f7d10a&pf_rd_r=AFGD7C0REVEVXP40MQHC

The person (people) also make a fake profile of me here: https://www.audible.com/author/Ruth-Ann-Nordin/B002BM2VVQ?ref=a_search_c3_lAuthor_1_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=G4RKZA50D41RSDT7XKD9

Now to ACX, what is wrong with you? I notified you two weeks ago that I am not making audiobooks, and you still let these books go up? Is there no way you can vet the people coming to your site? Why is it that I have told you what is happening AND a narrator also alerted you to this, BUT you haven’t done anything to keep watch over this?

I bet a lot authors are getting scammed, but they just don’t know it. I bet a lot of narrators are getting scammed, but they also don’t know it. This can’t just be happening to me. It’s impossible to think that I am so incredibly special in this whole entire world that I am the only author who got picked for this nonsense. So for authors and narrators, be careful out there. There’s a lot of slime dripping all over the place.

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