Amazon Removes Books From Kindle Unlimited After They Appear on Pirate Sites

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Several independent publishers have had their books removed from Kindle Unlimited because they breached an exclusivity agreement with Amazon. The actions of the book giant are covered by the mutually agreed terms. However, in many cases, it's not the authors who breached the agreement, but pirate sites who copied them, as pirates do.

When Amazon launched the first Kindle fifteen years ago, book piracy was already a common problem.

When publishers clashed with The Pirate Bay over illegally shared copies, we envisioned that things could get much worse if Kindle-ready pirate sites began to pop up.

Rampant Book Piracy

Fast forward to today and book piracy is easier and more widespread than ever. It has reached a point where the highest echelons of U.S. law enforcement stepped in to tackle this issue, with the crackdown on Z-library. Thus far, this hasn’t achieved the desired result.

The frustrations of publishers and authors is understandable. Many see their books being openly shared for free, just hours after they hits the stores. This isn’t limited to bestsellers either, it affects independent authors too.

In the midst of this drama, Amazon is making things worse. Generally speaking, the company is a blessing to many smaller authors because of its accessible self-publishing options and promotional features. This includes KDP Select, through which books are made available on Kindle Unlimited.

As part of the KDP Select agreement, authors promise to make digital versions of their books exclusive to Amazon. This makes sense, as it comes with various perks. However, this rule doesn’t only apply to competing stores, pirate sites are included as well.

Amazon Punishes Authors for Piracy?

Over the past few weeks, several authors complained that Amazon had removed their books from Kindle Unlimited because they violated their agreement. The piracy angle is front and center, raising plenty of questions and uncertainty.

Raven Kennedy, known for The Plated Prisoner Series, took her frustration to Instagram earlier this month. The author accused Amazon of sending repeated “threats”. This eventually resulted in the removal of her books from Kindle Unlimited, ostensibly because these were listed on pirate sites.

“Copyright infringement is outside of my control. Even though I pay a lot of money to a company to file takedown notices on my behalf, and am constantly checking the web for pirated versions, I can’t keep up with all the intellectual theft.

“And rather than support and help their authors, Amazon threatens me. The ironic thing is, these pirates are getting the files FROM Amazon,” Kennedy added.

A similar experience was shared by Carissa Broadbent, author of The War of Lost Hearts Trilogy. Again, Amazon removed a book from Kindle Unlimited for an issue that the author can’t do much about.

“A few hours ago, I got a stomach-dropping email from [Amazon] that Children of Fallen Gods had been removed from the Kindle store with zero warning, because of content ‘freely available on the web’ — IE, piracy that I do not have any control over,” Broadbent noted.


These and other authors received broad support from their readers, and sympathy from the general public. A petition launched in response has collected nearly 35,000 signatures to date, with new ones still coming in.

Author Marlow Locker started the petition to send a wake-up call to Amazon. According to her, Amazon should stand behind its authors instead of punishing them for the fact that complete strangers have decided to pirate their books.

Most authors will gladly comply with the exclusivity requirements, but only as far as this lies within their control. Piracy clearly isn’t, especially when it happens on an almost industrial scale.

“Currently, many automated systems use Amazon as a place to copy the e-files that they use for their free websites. It’s completely absurd that the same company turns around and punishes an author by removing their book from KDP Select,” the petition reads.

From the commentary seen online, several authors have been able to resolve their issues with Amazon. And indeed, the books of Broadbent and Kennedy appear to be back online. That said, the exclusivity policy remains in place.

Amazon Takes Note

Amazon is aware of the complaints and informs TorrentFreak that it’s working with the people involved to find an appropriate solution. The company stresses that, if books are removed from Kindle Unlimited, they remain for sale on Amazon’s regular store.

The company further explains that, before taking action, it sends authors an advance warning with an extended timeline so they can try to resolve the issue.

“We welcome author feedback and work directly with authors to address any issues or errors affecting their accounts,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

The problem is, of course, that individual authors can’t stop piracy. If it was that easy, most authors would be happy to do so. However, if billion-dollar publishing companies and the U.S. Government can’t stop it, Amazon can’t expect independent authors to ‘resolve’ the matter either.

It would make more sense for Amazon to update its KDP Select policy to exclude pirate sites from the exclusivity rule. With book piracy being as rampant as it is, no title can ever guarantee to be piracy-free, ever.

Perhaps it’s also a good idea to use all the vocal and social media-savvy authors as an asset to educate the broader public on piracy. That will do more than having them stress over book removals and pointless DMCA takedown campaigns.


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