Fucking Pirates: A Teeny, Tiny Call to Arms

You may have already seen this on Facebook, but if you’ve wisely sworn off that platform I’ll repeat it here:

I have a favor to ask any US Amazon customers out there. Would you mind going over here and leaving a reader review pointing out that this is a pirated edition, unauthorized by the author, and that the “annotations” consist of a couple of Wikipedia pages pasted onto the front of the manuscript? I would do it myself, but I am not allowed to post reviews on Amazon.com because I “have not met the minimum eligibility requirements to write a review” (i.e., I have not given them enough money).

I have, of course, launched a copyright infringement notice through Amazon’s official channels, and Amazon is being its usual dickish self in terms of acting on it. I continue to jump through their hoops. In the meantime, though, it would be nice if potential customers could be informed that they (and I) are being ripped off.

Thank you. Apologies for the interruption. If it helps, my next blog post is likely to be about Planarians, neoblasts, and The Thing.



This entry was posted on Monday, July 26th, 2021 at 7:03 am and is filed under legal, misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

36 Responses to “Fucking Pirates: A Teeny, Tiny Call to Arms”

  1. Joshua

    I tried and got the following message from Amazon: “Amazon has noticed unusual reviewing activity on this product. Due to this activity, we have limited this product to verified purchase reviews.”

    Fortunately a few people got their one-star reviews in before Amazon stepped in to protect the pirate.

  2. UpsideDownMan

    The machines have noticed already! Amazon has started limiting reviews to verified purchases as of approx 4pm GMT when I went over to review the fake.

  3. Aardvark Cheeselog

    Your call has been heard and heeded. A half-dozen users have posted 1-star reviews calling it out as a pirate edition, and attempts to add more are met with


    Amazon has noticed unusual reviewing activity on this product. Due to this activity, we have limited this product to verified purchase reviews.

  4. Peter Watts

    Thank you all. As long as Amazon doesn’t start *deleting* the “questionable reviews”, the point has been made. From now on, it’ll be hard for anyone buying this edition to claim they thought it was legit.

  5. Andy

    If I were in the US (perish the thought) I’d rain down hellfire and damnation but I’m not; I’ve actually sworn off using Amazon completely once their COVID hijinks became public knowledge and it was a surprisingly morally satisfying decision to make.

    Of course there’s precious little I’d purchased on Amazon that was, you know, essential so we’ll see if that sticks.

    Dr. Watts, how’s Rakuten Kobo treating you? That’s my e-reading app of choice, but I’d like to have a confirmation I’m not fucking an author I admire over by using it.

  6. 1001001

    Jeez, next you’re going to tell me my copy of Omniscience isn’t legit.

  7. Ashley R Pollard

    Another way forward is to make sure that the profits of any sales are sent to you. That should be disincentive enough.

    Of course your publisher should be motivated to pursue this copyright infringement. I guess they’re not, in which case it seems like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  8. Gord Wait

    Amazon’s page now says this product is unavailable for purchase..

  9. There Be Pirates in These (Cyber)waters – Darker Realities

    […] on his blog, sci-fi author Peter Watts laments copyright infringement of his excellent novel, […]

  10. Peter Watts

    1001001:
    Jeez, next you’re going to tell me my copy of Omniscience isn’t legit.

    No, I’m pretty sure that one’s on the level. Although the critics seem to be ignoring it for some reason…

    Ashley R Pollard: Of course your publisher should be motivated to pursue this copyright infringement.

    I think Tor has been pretty cool on me ever since I insisted on giving Blindsight away for free back in 2006.

    Which makes this all especially galling. I’m already self-pirating in a sense, people can already get the book for free any time they want it. In fact, one of the “annotations” the pirate included was the very Creative Commons license that specifies noncommercial freebeeism. This doofus is trying to make money off a product the author doesn’t even get a cut of.

    Fucker.

    Gord Wait:
    Amazon’s page now says this product is unavailable for purchase..

    That’s progress. Although I see the trade paperback version is still up.

  11. Patrick
  12. dhlight

    By the time I got to it, just now, the link said ‘page not found’ with a picture of a sad dog.

    How much was the schmuck charging?

  13. Graham Moore

    I discovered your work by stumbling across the free copy of Blindsight. This has resulted in me buying a paper copy plus most of the other books you’ve written as they have become available at Indigo.

  14. Nestor

    Parasites are inevitable in all ecosystems…

  15. ken

    Like @Graham Moore, I downloaded the (legit) free version of Blindsight after reading a recommendation from Cory Doctorow.

    I read half of the book on my laptop and then immediately ordered a physical copy. I’ve purchased a copy of every one of your books since then. I plan to continue this practice.

  16. Peter Watts

    dhlight:
    By the time I got to it, just now, the link said ‘page not found’ with a picture of a sad dog.

    How much was the schmuck charging?

    Yeah, they do seem to have moved on this one. To the point where now, they’re threatening several legitimate booksellers who never sold the infringing material.

    Probably because Amazon’s bots can’t understand english so they make stupid mistakes. Of course, Amazon could always hire humans to deal with such matters, but you can’t really blame them for not going that route. It would make them a little less money.

    The schmuck was charging 2.99 for the Kindle and, I don’t exactly remember but I wanna say 8 something for the paperback?

    Nestor:
    Parasites are inevitable in all ecosystems…

    Yes. Fortunately, so are antibodies…

    Graham Moore:
    I discovered your work by stumbling across the free copy of Blindsight.This has resulted in me buying a paper copy plus most of the other books you’ve written as they have become available at Indigo.

    Yes, that’s exactly how it was supposed to work. Thank you.

    Whaddya mean, “most”?

    ken:
    Like @Graham Moore, I downloaded the (legit) free version of Blindsight after reading a recommendation from Cory Doctorow.

    Cory is a good and generous soul.

    I read half of the book on my laptop and then immediately ordered a physical copy. I’ve purchased a copy of every one of your books since then. I plan to continue this practice.

    I suppose I’d better write something new, then.

  17. Nestor

    I did try to leave a negative review, but I too am insufficiently spendy. Consider me a failed antibody. Perhaps next time!

  18. Ftuuky

    Hi Dr. Watts,

    Sorry to hear about your troubles with Amazon.

    In the meantime, what is your opinion on this?
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-021-00969-6

    Sounds like something right up your alley.

    Thanks,
    Ftuuky

  19. Super Meat Boy

    Just read Strategic Retreat, but can’t comment on it.

    Yet I feel compelled to comment on the imagery. It’s like you’re feeling the endgame in your bones, and trying to paint it. If we’re really lucky, then it’s Chicken all the way up.

  20. Just Meat Boy

    Ah, and now What Dreams May Come. I have something for you.

    > “It is worth taking the idea of dream substitution seriously enough to consider whether fictions like novels or films act as artificial dreams, accomplishing at least some of the same function.”

    Conceptual Blending plus Predictive Processing. Like this: sensory information is the foundation of cognition. Concepts are mash ups of sensory information. New and novel concepts require new and novel sensory information. When you’ve exhausted what’s available from unaltered nature, where do you find more? You create art.

    How do you know what a dragon is?

  21. Super Meat Fetus

    Valentines from the Oort! You SUMMONED that comet, didn’t you?

  22. dhlight

    Peter Watts,

    Now that I’m watching for pirates, I spotted a suspect ‘annotated’ copy of ‘Butcher Bird’ by Richard Kadrey. The ‘annotation’ looks like boilerplate from someplace and there are major typos in the sample text. Publication date is 8/2/2021 (maybe they got the idea here). Left 1 star warning review.

    I notice that Amazon does permit a ‘trademark holder’ to submit a copyright complaint.

  23. Lars

    I keep reading “a teeny, tiny call to arms” as “a call to teeny, tiny arms” and wondering when the Tyrannosaurs are going to show up.

  24. 1001001

    Dear Customer,

    We discovered that your recent order of Blindsight: Annotated was an unauthorized version. We’ve refunded you the original purchase price to the payment method used for this order, which you should see in the next 3-5 business days (not including processing time by your bank).

    We encourage you to dispose of the incorrect version you received.

    If you would like to purchase the correct book, you can find it here:

    http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1250237483

    We’re very sorry about the inconvenience this has caused.

    Sincerely,

    Customer Service Department

    Amazon.ca

    http://www.amazon.ca

  25. NauseOuS
  26. Nestor

    I should probably be able to leave a review on the .es but when I switch to kindle or hardcover back to softcover the image seems to show a legit TOR edition… are we sure it’s a pirate one?

  27. oge

    Hi Peter, what hard sci-fi books/stories/papers (in a style similar to yours) would you recommend to a person who has read ALL the fiction you’ve written?

  28. V

    Just last night I duckduckgoed “Scratch Monkey” by Chralie Stross, because I couldn’t find it on his website at prima vista — there was a “hardcover” of it at the big river (with two — obviously trollish — reviews), despite the fact that it’s free on his website and has always been, prior to anything he was published as fiction on dead trees, _ever_.

  29. Peter Watts

    Ftuuky: In the meantime, what is your opinion on this?
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-021-00969-6

    The possibilities of chirality are cool, but it’s not a new idea; James Blish wrote a Star Trek novel back in 1970 that hinged on the idea (hell, my own most recent story even mentions it, although I don’t know if it’s out yet— it’s a tie-in with the new Stoneburner album). Usually it’s all about shadow ecosystems and the like. The idea of biodegradation-proof data storage is a new one on me, though. I like it.

    Just Meat Boy: How do you know what a dragon is?

    I was with you right up until this line.

    dhlight: I notice that Amazon does permit a ‘trademark holder’ to submit a copyright complaint.

    Actually, I almost wish I’d never brought it to their attention.

    First they wouldn’t act because I hadn’t sufficiedntly demonstrated that I was the copyright holder. Then they started going after completely innocent indie shops that were selling legitimate editions. I started getting panicked emails from a dozen sellers, saying Amazon had blacklisted them and they weren’t selling the book any more and could I please list a retraction? But when I tried to list a retraction, Amazon rejected it because it wasn’t the same title that I’d originally complained about (which only made sense: I’d complained about the pirate version, but Amazon was coming down on the legit version as well, so that was the one that had to be fixed). It was a total clusterfuck.

    I think it eventually got worked out, but I don’t think I corresponded with a single fucking Human being throughout the whole process. Amazon is All Bots All the Time.

    God I hate those fuckers.

    oge:
    Hi Peter, what hard sci-fi books/stories/papers (in a style similar to yours) would you recommend to a person who has read ALL the fiction you’ve written?

    You know, I haven’t yet had a chance to read it myself (it’s on the list), but people can’t seem to stop raving about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time

    Also, if you’re into far-future post-apocalyptic body horror in a kinda Gene Wolfeish mode, I would highly recommend Leech by Hiron Ennes. It’s not out yet, but it’s imminent (I got an advance copy for blurbing purposes). Very cool story told from the POV of a sapient parasitic hive mind. The author has a medical background.

  30. Dan Major

    1001001,

    Sigh – I read your comment and then spent 20+ minutes trying to find out how it was released already, seeing if it was close to out (in case you had an ARC), etc. Only to realize the joke afterward…

    Damnit – I really wanted it to be out NOW!

  31. NotParticipating

    *Sigh* “imminent” he says…

    https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/hiron-ennes/leech/9781529073607

    Currently listed with a release date at the end of September…. 2022…

  32. Peter Watts

    NotParticipating: Currently listed with a release date at the end of September…. 2022…

    Well that’s weird. Kinda makes me wonder why they needed the blurb by the middle of last month…

  33. SomeHistoryGuy

    Apparently Blindsight got spotlighted by a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience, so now a bunch of people have gone out and bought the book. It’s episode 1698, in case you weren’t aware already (I can’t speak to the quality of entertainment though, I’ve never listened to the JRE).

  34. The K

    Can confirm that “Children of Time”, and its sequel, “Children of Ruin” do indeed slap. Of course they are not quite as good as the Omniscience books, but hey, they did scratch that itch.

    As for “Leech”, man that does sound awesome. But Release in 2022 and no cover picture to boot? Whelp, here is hoping we actually get it at all.

  35. Peter Watts

    SomeHistoryGuy: Apparently Blindsight got spotlighted by a guest on the Joe Rogan Experience, so now a bunch of people have gone out and bought the book.

    Yeah, the guest was Neill Blomkamp (District 9). He and I are in the early stages of a Blindsight-adjacent project (he suggested I keep that to myself until it was further along, but then he went on Rogan and squeed about it, so I guess the embargo’s off). And yeah, that did provide quite a nice little spike— a mesa, even— on Blindsight’s Amazon rankings, which only started to trail off a few days ago.

    Neill and I also co-appeared on a recent episode of the (much smaller) podcast “Tales from the Bridge”—run by folks out of my old stomping ground up in Guelph—but I don’t think that one’s aired yet.

    The K: As for “Leech”, man that does sound awesome. But Release in 2022 and no cover picture to boot? Whelp, here is hoping we actually get it at all.

    I’m pretty sure you’ll get it. The editor is super-pumped, it’s been announced in mags that cater to the publishing industry. I’m frankly a bit jealous; it’s getting way more promotion than Blindsight ever did.

    But again, it’s a really good book.

  36. dhlight

    Peter Watts,

    Sorry if I led you into the Amazon copyright morass (altho it looks like you dove down that hole by yourself). Think of it as another gift from America; first we beat you up at the border, then we beat up your indie book sellers.

    As for books to assuage a Peter Watts jones,
    maybe Ken Macleod (Corporation Wars trilogy – hard science (sorta)), or Iain Banks (Use of Weapons – if you can tolerate FTL), or Jack Vance (Planet of Adventure series – requires FTL tolerance and being able to handle swordfights on a medieval alien planet). Great reads all.