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    • The founder of the small tech book publisher No Starch Press has accused Amazon of selling counterfeit copies of his books. Incredibly, many of the counterfeits appear to be printed on demand by Amazon itself.

      Amazon itself isn't technically the instigator of the counterfeiting, but they do make it extremely easy for counterfeiters to have their fakes printed on demand and then sold on Amazon using Amazon's own print-on-demand service.

      But since Amazon doesn't proactively monitor the content being published and sold via this service, it's up to copyright owners to identify and report abusers. And by the time they do, the damage has already been done, since small publishers like No Starch Press operate at low volume and with small margins where every sale counts.

      Amazon themselves have admitted they have a counterfeit problem, but it's not clear exactly what they're doing about it or whether they see it as a major priority.

      At what point should Amazon be held liable for the damage they're doing to publishers and manufacturers whose sales are being cannibalized by counterfeits? Or the damage they're doing to consumers who unknowingly purchase counterfeit products Amazon's own website recommends?

      Should the countries Amazon does business in try to tackle this problem with legislation? Or should Amazon be left to their own devices to try to figure out a solution?

      📷 Comparison of a legit No Starch Press book (top) and a fake (bottom) by @billpollock on Twitter.

    • Well, if the publishers can successfully sue for damages and win, my guess is that the problem will be swiftly addressed. You can be sued for selling pirated movies, I don't see why this should be any different.

    • I received a couple of counterfeit Canon camera batteries from Amazon a couple of years ago that didn't hold a charge, but I shrugged. I suppose I got faked out because the package came via Prime 2-day, Amazon's fulfillment, even though it was a third-party seller.

      Since then I've paid attention to the occasional anecdotes I hear, the Apple store employee I watched tell a woman the charger she bought from Amazon was counterfeit, the seller of truck mudflaps who told me how they're considering joining the ranks of brands who no longer sell on Amazon because of the counterfeit problem that makes them look so bad.

      I dunno how big the problem really is, but it has affected me to the point I buy what I can from B&H, directly from Apple, etc.

    • Well, if the publishers can successfully sue for damages and win, my guess is that the problem will be swiftly addressed.

      I think "and win" is the key phrase here. A tiny publisher going up against Amazon, even with an ironclad case, is still going to have to fight a long and expensive uphill battle against Amazon's army of lawyers and every legal tactic at their disposal. All Amazon has to do is make litigation so expensive and time-consuming that the small publisher can't afford it; they don't actually have to win.

      The really sad thing, though, is that even if the publisher in question had a big war chest and the case made it to court, I'm not sure Amazon would lose. For better or worse, copyright laws in the US are pretty lenient toward online service providers when the infringement is carried out by users of their services. Sometimes this is a good thing, but in this particular case it could give Amazon legal cover.

      It would be an interesting case though for sure.

    • Yes, Amazon relies on the protection of being a platform, not responsible for what its sellers do, same as social media companies do with content they host.

      There is an interesting change in the law to consider when regulating platform companies. Since YouTube is a major vector for spreading conspiracy theories, the thought is to hold them liable for what they recommend, not what they host. If their AI knew they'd be held legally responsible for recommendations, the thought is the algorithms would change in a hurry.

      Of course that begs the question of how YouTube would know. And I suppose the same applies to Amazon. How can they always know what's counterfeit?

    • I got interested in the French anti motion sickness glasses that Citroen carries but they don't sell the outside the EU. Someone from Thailand told me in this conversation that there was a sudden explosion of Chinese knockoffs you can buy cheap on Amazon, so I searched. Sure enough:

      I recognized the pic of the little girl: it was from Citroen's promo video. She's on French bus with Citroen's logo on those glasses. Still, the glasses got 21 reviews soon after they were listed Here are the top two reviews (they're all like this):

      👆 The reviews don't have anything to do with the glasses. I bought a pair anyway. They're made out of crazy soft rubber so they don't maintain any kind of shape to stay on. Penny had to stand very still for the pic. I suppose we could attach a sport strap to them to get them to maybe work?

      What is happening to Amazon?