Author Sues Amazon And eBay For Having Used Copies Of His Books For Sale

from the please-google-first-sale-doctrine dept

Eric Goldman alerts us to yet another ridiculous lawsuit that is likely to be tossed out of court incredibly quickly. In the meantime, though, it's worth looking at, just for the amusement factor. An author (who isn't worth naming here) has sued both eBay and Amazon because used copies of his books are for sale on both sites. He claims that this is a violation of his copyright, and claims that this "piracy" is no different than what the music, movie and software industry faces when they see their products downloaded. Apparently, he's never heard of the first sale doctrine, recognized by both the courts and directly within the law, allowing the legal owner of a copyrighted work to transfer that work to someone else. He also seems to be unfamiliar with the various safe harbors that would protect both eBay and Amazon from the actions of its users. But, to make it even more fun, before filing the lawsuit, he sent letters to the companies asking for half a billion dollars to shut him up. After claiming that he would clearly win a lawsuit leading other authors to sue as well, he literally says in his letter to them: "should I be compensated fairly, I will be as quiet as a church mouse.... I think [a] number in the high seven figures will be fair enough for me to suddenly catch amnesia." If his novel writing is as unsubtle as his legal threat letters, one would be hard pressed to believe that his books sold very much either at full price, or in these "used" sales.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Tom, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 10:58am

    the Countersuit

    If that was the wording in his letter, couldn't both Amazon and eBay sue him for extortion????

     

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  2.  
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    KipEsquire, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:13am

    More on the Author

    His books appear to be self-published and at least one is a fictionalized account of his own criminal activity (check-kiting). He also once appealed to keep his own book from being admitted into evidence in his criminal trial. Barrel of legal fun, this guy.

     

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  3.  
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    sonofdot, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:20am

    Re: the Countersuit

    They could, and should. They should make an example of the author, and they should also press charges for extortion (a criminal matter, not a civil matter).

    This suit is obviously filed pro se, since there's no lawyer with so little sense (or knowledge of the law) to represent this moron. This case will be thrown out and never see the light of day, since the author's arguments clearly are ignorant of (or willfully disregard) black-letter copyright law and the first sale doctrine.

    The author claims to have researched the subject, but clearly hasn't researched it much beyond how to format a legal filing.

    I think the author is really fishing for a quick settlement just to get rid of him/her.

     

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  4.  
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    Matt, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:25am

    irony of amazon if they successfully defend themse

    Isn't it amusing that amazon who DRM's the hell out of their ebooks to trump right of first sale, is likely about to defend themselves in an lawsuit doing exactly that?

    Left hand, meet right hand.

     

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  5.  
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    Lucretious, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:27am

    Douche.
    Bag.

     

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  6.  
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    JTF, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:34am

    Author no stranger to scamming

    If you go to this link http://www.crimblawg.com/2004/05/apprendi_does_n.html

    you will see where this author was sent to prison in 2005 for trying to run a scam that he had already written about in one of his books. After some paranoid drivel, one person comments:

    "Kahari wasn't sent to prison based on his writing. He was sent to prison because he carried out the exact scam that he wrote about, and got caught. Then he tried to claim that he was the one being scammed. The prosecutor used his book as evidence that he wasn't unknowing of the scam. The remainder of the evidence convicted him..."

     

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  7.  
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    Joe, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Re: the Countersuit

    Yeah I believe they could sue him for extortion.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Greed knows no boundaries.

     

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  9.  
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    KipEsquire, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Not Quite Extortion

    "Settle or I'll sue" is not extortion. Indeed, settlement negotiations are not even admissible at trial.

    ("Settle or I'll press criminal charges" is very illegal, however.)

     

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  10.  
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    Todd, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:47am

    This guy is concerned about people selling used copies of his books? Look at the blatant ripoff of scarface on his cover: http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Criminal-Asante-Kahari/dp/0972571302/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books& qid=1207248321&sr=1-3

     

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  11.  
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    Sam, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re: Not Quite Extortion

    True, settlement negotiations are not admissible as evidence at trial. But a letter is not a negotiation, and so the letter is admissible, and hopefully will be used as evidence for some sort of sanction.

     

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  12.  
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    niftyswell, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Re:

    maybe that is what he wanted...the BS effect to drum up attention to his novel....just worked didnt it? He might even sell a copy or two.

     

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  13.  
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    Optimist, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    Oh, well

    I had hoped this was actually someone trying to mock the RIAA.

     

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  14.  
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    Alimas, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    At $250!!
    His synopsis is horrible. At least five times he says a boy becoming a bigger man, and climaxes those statements with an analogy (is it an anology?) of him driving 90mph in a 30mph street. This is like, really horrible stuff.

     

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  15.  
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    F.W. Brown (author), Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    author sues

    I'm an author who sees my books routinely sold on Ebay and Amazon.
    I for one am happy to see the sales. It enhances my sales and gets my name into the public arena.
    I understand ISBNs and copyright laws. However, once the book is purchased it becomes the property of the owner who has the right to resell the book. It has nothing to do with copyright.
    My books include: "Zombeast," Hot Sand and Cold Blood," "Cocaine Jungle."

     

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  16.  
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    PidlyDink, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    Admissible

    His letter IS admissible, and would be even if it were part of a "settlement negotiation" thanks to the fact that he attached it (and therefore admitted it) to the complaint.

    And it is a “Pro Se” filing. Never more true has the axiom “he who represents himself has a fool for a client” been so true. I know, I've gone pro se, and man was my client a numb nut.

    This guy is hilarious. Oh, I can't stop laughing. Make it stop.

    And he admits to being a dinkus maximus at the end of the complaint! This made my day. If he’s a comic, he’s a genius, but given his past and writing ability, he’s not, and it makes it all the funnier.

    Maybe he'll try to sue Justia.com for posting his "copyrighted" complaint. Oh, my side hurts. I have to stop thinking about this....

     

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  17.  
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    ThugLife4RealYoz, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    This guy wrote a book called 'Homo Thug' and we're supposed to take him seriously??

     

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  18.  
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    Jake, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    Heh heh heh. Nice try, Mr Kahari. I think someone's about to find out that the Streisand Effect is a double-edged sword...

     

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  19.  
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    JT, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 12:51pm

    Scarface

    So I see a book on Amazon selling for $249 called The Birth of a Criminal. Odd how that resembles Scarface... I think maybe Oliver Stone should be knocking at his door.

     

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  20.  
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    pegr, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    Asante Kahari, born Aaron Frasier, age 37, was released from prison 10/26/2007 having been convicted of check fraud in a crime more than a bit similar than one described in his "fictional" account in "The Birth of a Criminal".

    For added laugh-out-loud goodness, Google "Stupid Criminal Asante Kahari" for details...

    Frasier is a two-bit punk hustler and will likely be back in prison before Christmas. Word up!

    His Federal inmate-finder record:

    http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/InmateFinderServlet?Transaction=NameSearch&needingMoreList=f alse&LastName=fraser&Middle=&FirstName=aaron&Race=B&Sex=M&Age=&x=17& y=18

    I can't find a photo yet... Zat him on the cover of the book? ;)

     

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  21.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 1:48pm

    Re:

    $250. 112 page paperback. Based in his past so this isn't one of those 400+ year old books. Lack of any other hits on a Google search for more information on that book. Why douse the book itself sound like a scam?

     

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  22.  
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    Rusty Shackleford, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Akin to the Vancouver Artist

    quite awhile back there was an artist in Vancouver Canada that was upset that his paintings went for higher prices out in the world when going through its sales time after time... he actually tried to sue the sellers who had profited from the sale... he didnt win either

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Mark, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    Heh

    His cell and email are in the doc, I think I'll give him a call.

     

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  24.  
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    Tim, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    I see Aaron Fraser is at it again (his real name). I can't help but wonder if he may be the person who advertised the book on Amazon in the first place. Who else would try to sell a 112 page, errantly written paperback book for $250? When the sale doesn't happen, who better to sue than the resale promoting company.

    If he were to release that crap on an MP3 file or similar media, he would have a halfway decent case.

    heh. If he had, he'd probably misspell MP3 in the offering. Has any of you read his own description of his 'novel' on Amazon? First year journalism students don't make that many grammatical or phrase errors (they do later on when under a deadline).

    I can't get over the crap he wrote in his complaint. It read like stereo instructions from the 70's. Worse still was the appeal. Just think .. a half dozen paralegals from the prosecutors office sat there for a week typing it up, all because some dumbshit didn't know to say 'objection.'

    This is too funny. I hope they make a Law & Order episode about it :p

     

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  25.  
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    Anne, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 2:57pm

    Re: the Countersuit

    I agree with you completely.

     

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  26.  
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    Witty Nickname, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 2:57pm

    I emailed him

    The idiot submitted the letter in his lawsuit - he admitted it into evidence - so it is admissible. I e-mailed the idiot and put a link to this article - stay tuned he might respond. Also, go to the second to last page of his lawsuit - it is the letter - and it includes his home #, cell # and personal e-mail.

     

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  27.  
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    Anne, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 3:01pm

    The most wondrous action would be if Amazon and Ebay both blocked the books from being sold or resold by anyone, including the author. 'During the time that this matter is being litigated, Amazon.com's legal department has advised us that we should immediately ban the sale of all books written by this author.'

    Give him what he wants. Ban his books from Ebay and Amazon.

     

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  28.  
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    Hyrulio, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 7:07pm

    I'm sorry, am I the only one who thinks that $250 is a little bit much for a book? I know the dollar is falling, but not that much!

     

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  29.  
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    Anne, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 8:20pm

    Re: $250 books on Amazon

    I sell books at a minimum of $50 every single day on Amazon, where I am a used book dealer, and I also sell $250+ books quite often. Some people feed the low end of the market. I feed rich people. In the end, the $50+ book buyer is far more pleasant and agreeable than the .01 cent book buyer.

    This is a phenomena that I have yet to see rationally explained. On both Ebay and Amazon, the lower the price of the merchandise you are selling, the more problems the buyer will bring to you after the sale. Buyers of items costing less than $5 (with shipping included in that total) will bombard a seller with daily email, demanding updates on the status of their order.

    The dollar Dellas are impossible to please and are most likely to find flaws in the book and demand a refund, the email typed all in capital letters, and usually throwing the word fraud around like they're big shots. I fired the low-budget Lolas and two-buck Chucks early on in my career as a bookseller. People who spend $50+ buying used books are entirely different creatures, and it has been an absolute privilege to have them as my customers.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2008 @ 10:51pm

    Re: Re: Not Quite Extortion

    True, settlement negotiations are not admissible as evidence at trial. But a letter is not a negotiation, and so the letter is admissible, and hopefully will be used as evidence for some sort of sanction.

    So, you're essentially saying that negotiations can't be conducted by letter? That sounds rather odd and implausible to me.

     

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  31.  
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    Gratapoil, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 4:20am

    Pfff idiot

     

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  32.  
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    Cygnus, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 7:55am

    I'm so happy to see that this plaintiff is acting pro se. I'd be embarrassed if an attorney have filed this crap lawsuit.

     

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  33.  
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    Cygnus, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: $250 books on Amazon

    A good friend's dad had a phrase that sums this phenomena up nicely: poor people have poor ways.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    "Even radio stations must pay them when there (sic) record is played on the radio."

    This is an author who writes books that (apparently) sell, and he can't even get the word 'their' correct?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: $250 books on Amazon

    A good friend's dad had a phrase that sums this phenomena up nicely: poor people have poor ways.

    Maybe that's all they can afford.

     

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  36.  
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    heh, Apr 5th, 2008 @ 4:57am

    we should be careful calling this moron an 'idiot.' he may try to sue techdirt for defamation of character. what character? that doesn't matter. if some dumb broad can get $10M for spilling hot coffee, anything is possible.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Stacie Loyd, Feb 24th, 2009 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Re: the Countersuit

    I,really don"t agree with your opinion.I hihgly beleive that dispite his convition,No one should be able to copy right his book and make prophet without his knowlege and for crying out loud giving his cut. I mean be realistic,However the case may be,it is his work and no one but Kahari should be able to take credit for it.

     

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