Waiting for the Amazon Godot

I took to Twitter yesterday, even though I never use it and only have seven followers…but I actually got a response from Amazon. They want to take a closer look into “this” and gave me a link to reply to them!!! And now I’m just waiting for the Amazon Godot…

My paperback book, Baby For President, which I made through Create Space in 2012 was taken down by Amazon and not put back up, after 6 weeks of many messages to you that involved a lot of waiting for your answers that you never gave me. You say there is a technical issue with my copyright but I sent you my copyright registration — there is no copyright problem — you will not tell me exactly what it is. Could it be because I objected to a phony “mass market” edition two years ago by third party seller, or is it that you just came out with an Amazon Prime movie having the same name? Meanwhile Books Mela, a third party Amazon seller, sells my Baby For President POD paperback book for $50,000 in Canada and I asked you repeatedly to remove that phony listing but you say it’s perfectly fine for Books Mela to sell my book on Amazon for $50,000 — even though the real price of my book is $14.95 and no copies exist because you took the listing down. It is not fine with me for my books to be listed for ghastly prices that makes me wonder whether or not there is crime involved. In fact, most of my books on Amazon have ghastly prices (many for over $900) attached and phony editions of the books that don’t exist. That muddies up a customer’s experience when buying my books, and it skews the rankings. I’d really appreciate it if Amazon would clean up this mess. I would like to arrange a phone call to sort this out with you. Thank you for responding to my Twitter.  Penny Gentieu

My right to use my own photo

Could this be the reason Amazon is banning my book, Baby For President, because of this old book from 2002, Trees Make the Best Mobiles, that used my photo on the cover? The publisher, St. Martin’s Press, had a non-exclusive right to use my photo on the cover of this book for only 15,000 North American paperback copies in 2002 — I actually offered St. Martin’s Press a retroactive license in 2004 when I noticed they had used it on their paperback edition after I had only licensed it for use on the hardcover edition. It was a best-seller, back in the day — that was an entire generation ago. It now appears that Amazon has resurrected the book to sell via their print-on-demand service, printed and fulfilled by Amazon, and all around the world. Hmm. Additionally, the rights to use my photo on the Kindle version expired in 2013, but my photo is still being used for Kindle, along with other e-book editions. So gee wiz.

Check out the lousy printing of this book — it’s as if they printed it from a xerox copy of the book pages, and the cover looks like it’s printed from a low res scan of the actual book. You can also see that it is slightly enlarged to accommodate the full-cover bleed. And the spine came broken in two places. Can’t they do better than that?

The original 2002 paperback edition on the left and the 2020 POD version on the right.
POD edition is poor quality, out of focus, mushy as a result of a low-res image file.
2002 paperback edition cover photo
The text of the POD copy (right) is fuzzy, darker, and slightly reduced in size like a bad xerox copy, compared to the 2002 paperback edition (left).
The type here is a screened image, not real type. (Note also, the bent spine.)

$900+ Amazon Book Club

Most of my published books are listed on Amazon with phony editions and for ridiculous prices.

Why does Amazon allow ridiculously high prices and phony listings of editions that don’t exist? Besides confusing Amazon customers, the additional listings and unrealistic prices hurt the book rankings and the entire economy of what’s actually being sold.

Wow! Babies!, was published by Knopf/Crown Books for Young Readers as a hardcover (1997) and board book (2000).  Those were the only two authorized editions of the book.  But Amazon also shows a “Crown Books for Young Readers (1758)” edition of the board book selling for $970.43 by Silver Ocean, or you could buy it from AllPro Books for $978, or $987.25 from Open Range Media.

You and Me, Baby was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers as a hardcover in 2006 and board book in 2008. Along with a library binding of the hardcover, those were the only three authorized editions of the book.  But Amazon also shows a hardcover edition by “Random House Childrens Books (October 10, 2006)” selling for $896.09 by Lucky’s Fulfillment, $920.99 by Bronze Classics, $987.25 by Open Range Media, and $1,008.00 by smiley_books.

“Just so you know, This view is of the Board book edition….The Hardcover edition is the one you’ll receive…”

Baby Signs for Mealtime was published by Harper Collins in 2002 as a board book only. However, you can buy a hardcover edition, ASIN: B00P246I9Q, for $930.35 from RockMountainBooks, or $1,052 from GlobalOnlineCo.

My First Baby Signs was published by Harper Collins in 2002 as a board book only. However, Amazon lists five formats and editions of the book, including two hardcovers and three board book editions; besides the only real edition is an edition dated July 1, 2002, and a very special “retrograde” pub date of January 1, 1754. No wonder it sells for so much — $902.81, sold by Mega-Movie-Deals, and $907.99 sold by Sandy Dunes Surplus.

Baby Signs for Animals was published by Harper Collins in 2003 as a board book only. However, Amazon lists five formats and editions of the book, including two hardcovers and three board book editions; besides one real edition there is an edition dated July 1, 2002, and a very special “retrograde” pub date of January 1, 1849.  No $900 listings, yet…

Screen shot dated July 1, 2020

What Babies Think, published by Andrews McMeel in 2000, has two hardcover editions on Amazon when it only really had one. Up until a few days ago, it was for sale for $919 by cbobooks. However, cbobooks has since then lowered their price, selling it today for $7.05.

My Baby and Me was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2008. It has not quite made it into the $900 Club, but it’s getting up there, priced at $254.56.

Baby Signs for Bedtime was published by Harper Collins in 2003 as a board book only. However, Amazon lists three formats and editions of the book, including a hardcover and two board book editions. Jaspee City sells the additional HarperFestival (1721) board book edition for $288.78.

Grow! Babies! was published by Crown Publishers in 2000 as a hardcover and in 2002 as a board book. The board book sells for $339.97 today, having gone up from $285.19 literally overnight for some strange reason, by Bright Harmony and Cherish More.

Baby! Talk! was published by Crown Publishers in 1999 as a hardcover, and in 2000 as a board book, and then as a Kindle. However, Amazon lists two additional hardcover editions: a bargain price dated April 20, 1999 and a retrograde edition dated January 1, 1645, as well as two rare board book editions, dated January 1, 1815 and January 1, 1656. Wow. Yet the oldest one of these only sells for $68.29 from NMX Design.

Baby For President, self-published by Pierrepenny Books in 2012, is not even available to buy for under $10,515 new and $50,000 used, only sold in Canada. The book does not exist since it’s a print on demand and Amazon seems to have banned the real book that has a list price of $14.95. But I guess for anyone paying this much, actually receiving the book isn’t the point.

Amazon Author Resale Rights

Baby For President, the paperback book - Amazon for Noblesse Oblige

Amazon self-published author-publishers
should not have to eat crap

June 4, 2020 screenshot of Baby For President selling new and used in Canada: $10,515 and $50,000 Canadian dollars.
July 7, 2020 screenshot of Baby For President selling new and used in Canada: $10,515 and $50,000 Canadian dollars, in French.

Can Books Mela buy my print-on-demand book for $14.95 to resell immediately for $10,515 new and $50,000 used, (especially when the book does not even exist), attaching themselves to my listing to advertise the outrageous offering and displaying my copyrighted artwork with their advertising without my permission to use it?

Perhaps we should lobby for Author’s Resale Rights, like Artist’s Resale Rights, so that when our books are sold by third-party sellers, we get a royalty from that. So therefore when my book is sold for $50,000 in Canada, I would get 5% of that — $2,500. Sweet.  Amazon makes two commissions on the deal in short succession, why shouldn’t we?

It’s absurd to be defending sellers on Amazon who sell our books for multiples of the retail price that we set our book to sell. That isn’t the way the real world works. Amazon has pricing rules for us, to determine the price of our book – I can only sell my book for between $10 and $250. To defend sellers who use our precious books, into which we put our heart and soul, for outrageously priced listings is ludicrous. To somehow think it’s sophisticated to let this go on is actually quite the opposite.

You don’t go into a brick and mortar bookstore that is full of books costing multiples of the actual retail price. That’s not reality. Nor do we need to be used to make sellers look like they have every book in the ISBN catalog, as if that’s adorable or something, let’s pinch their cheeks. It makes us look bad to be connected to such fraud. 

And imagine the returns for books because a paperback book had to go through TWO (shabby and also germy, possibly exposed twice to COVID-19) shipments during a serious pandemic to get it sent to them, when they actually ordered it NEW, not “like new.” 

Self-publishing authors, after all, don’t want Amazon customers to have a bad experience in regard to their book. They don’t want them to be confused, or wonder about strange prices. That’s why they sell their book to the customer directly from the Amazon print on demand press, and for the price the author sets it at. 

It makes me very sad, because I have more books in me, but I’m leery of publishing them under these circumstances. 

My book, Baby For President is apparently banned from publication by Amazon – only for sale for $50,000 in Canada, yet no copy exists – but as for speaking truth to power, I am in good company, because my 10th great grandfather William Pynchon (right) was the first in the New World to have his book banned and burned, in 1651, and my 11th great grandfather, William Brewster, had to go into hiding in Holland for printing pamphlets criticizing the Church of England, before he boarded the Mayflower and landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. William Pynchon and William Brewster were formidable citizens who helped create the free country we still live in, helping to establish the freedoms that I’m hoping get passed on to the next generations of Americans.

Baby For President for Fourth of July

Penny Gentieu's Baby For President, the paperback, behind the scenes
Baby For President paperback book by Penny Gentieu and Tom Friemoth published in 2012

What happens when a little book by an indie author titled Baby For President muddies up the search waters of an Amazon-promoted movie of the same name? Even when the book preceded the movie by eight years? If you are a monopoly and control all the books in the world, you can simply stomp that little book out and wash it away.

Baby For President stands up to Amazon in the Pandemic of 2020
Baby For President is standing up (as soon as she can stand) to Amazon in the Pandemic of 2020, saying, “Put me back up!”

Happy Pandemic of 2020. It’s only getting worse. Baby For President, the paperback, appears to be banned on Amazon because Amazon is promoting an Amazon movie, Baby For President. I discovered the movie on Amazon Prime only yesterday, after having been told to be patient by Amazon, giving me excuses for the past five weeks, as to why our book is not listed on Amazon anymore (“It has to be looked at by another team. We’ll get back to you in five business days.” And they never do.) Amazon has the book “locked down” in my control panel so I can’t even print a copy of the book that I entrusted with them through Amazon’s self-publishing business, CreateSpace, in 2012.

Baby For President is a paperback book published in 2012, made through Amazon's Create Space.
Baby For President is a paperback book published in 2012, made through Amazon’s CreateSpace, but Amazon took it down. Why? Is it because they used my book title for an Amazon Prime movie?
Baby For President is a paperback book.
Baby For President is a paperback book.
Baby For President on sale on Amazon on March 8, 2012
Baby For President on sale on Amazon on March 8, 2012
An unauthorized edition of Baby For President appeared on Amazon in 2018
An unauthorized edition of Baby For President sold by a third-party bookseller appeared on Amazon in 2018, so I reported it to Amazon and changed the cover to make sure the infringing book would not appear again.

Meanwhile, Baby For President, the paperback book, is being used for a listing on Amazon.ca, in Canada, for sale for $50,000.  Wow. Now there’s a meaty Amazon commission — 15% of $50,000 is $7,500. That’s not small potatoes – unlike our little paperback book, Baby For President, that is supposed to sell for $14.95 in the United States of America but doesn’t. What’s a little casualty like that worth to the almighty Amazon; certainly not worth a moment of their time.

Today, the Fourth of July, is its day – Baby For President’s day – the day we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the birth of a new nation of courageous men and women from whom we draw inspiration and strength to assert our individuality and creativity by using our liberties and freedom of speech that we often take for granted, but the paperback book, Baby For President, representing hope and freshness for a bright American future, has been suppressed by the new leader of the modern world that controls transmission — Amazon. We no longer have to wonder why Amazon took down Baby For President.  All we can hope for is, their noblesse oblige.

Baby For President, the paperback book - Amazon for Noblesse Oblige
Baby For President, the sequel – Amazon Baby, Noblesse Oblige, subtitled, “Have mercy on us little folks – we have only just begun and we want to live!”

A story in The New York Times –  Amazon Bookstore Nazis Feb. 9, 2020- https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/technology/amazon-bookstore-nazis.html

“I’m not going to argue for the wider distribution of Nazi material,” said Danny Caine of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan., who is the author of a critical pamphlet, “How to Resist Amazon and Why.” “But I still don’t trust Amazon to be the arbiters of free speech. What if Amazon decided to pull books representing a less despicable political viewpoint? Or books critical of Amazon’s practices?”

See these posts about Baby For President:

To hell and back on the Amazon KDP community message board

The Amazon Fifty Thousand Dollar Book Club

Getting nowhere fast with Amazon

Amazon – Noblesse Oblige

Replaced by newer?

To hell and back on the Amazon KDP community message board

Baby For President paperback book by Penny Gentieu and Tom Friemoth
Baby For President paperback book

I know it’s not life or death that my little paperback book, Baby For President isn’t listed on Amazon for $14.95 – that it was taken down by Amazon except for a fraudster listing in Canada selling it for $50,000. There are much worse things going on in the world right now that need attention, and who am I to want to sell a book called Baby For President in an election year. It’s not the end of the world, but it is outrageous. This is my fifth blog post in the past five weeks, since Amazon first started actively keeping my book off of Amazon.com, so it could NOT be bought for $14.95.

It’s amazing the lengths Amazon will go to, to protect third party booksellers selling books, including my book for sale for $50,000. Five weeks of my complaining, so far. If Amazon won’t listen to the complaints by authors, then they should consider how this creates unpleasant user experiences for its customers.

Why should the Amazon customer have to come across such listings that waste their time, their bandwidth, and leave them wondering of what is going on there? What if they want to buy my book? And that’s just from the precious Amazon customer’s point of view. From the author’s point of view, my book is being used for something that it was never intended to be used for, and from the copyright owner’s point of view, it seems to be a copyright infringement.

Amazon has a “community message board” for Kindle Direct Publishing self-published authors. The board has no monitor and it is very unprofessional. If they don’t like what you are saying, they called you names like “mentally ill.”

Apparently Amazon self-publishers are supposed to be accepting of fraud being connected with their books. Yet this fraud in regard to books, if it ever existed before Amazon, has been greatly exasperated by Amazon and put right up front. Amazon makes sure that anyone who dares to bring it up, like me, gets immediately shot down, in the most unprofessional manner.

I tried to start a conversation about the $50,000 price of my book that isn’t even available because Amazon seems to be banning my book for some unknown reason. This reply early-on says it all. I think it was meant to be sarcastic, but it’s so sadly full of truth.

Congratulations, you are a lucky winner of the Global Money Laundering Lottery! You get NO prizes, NO recognition and NOBODY cares -- but some not-so-nice gentlemen you don't want to ever meet or bother will shake hands and pretend that some tiny fraction of the money they made via armed robbery/prostitution/human trafficking/slave trading/dope dealing/extortion/racketeering/illegal gambling/war looting/illegal logging-mining-fishing- hunting/robbing some national treasury blind and so forth, was really made by selling your book! Thus the money will make its way, via a chain of shell transactions of which your listing is but a tiny part, to a squeaky-clean bank account in some nice First World country, where an officially-uninvolved banker will carefully AVOID asking prying questions regarding its real origin while skimming his cut off the top! Now, doesn't this sound just PEACHY?
Overpricing and underpricing of goods are classic means to turn dirty money into clean money. Everyone and his brother, from criminal organizations to terrorists to governments, uses this strategy. Your book is not involved. Only the title is. You will not see any royalties, but, don't worry, no one will read your magnum opus sans permission, either. They couldn't care less about it, frankly. They just want a transaction to record.

If it’s a money laundering scheme, there is nothing you or Amazon can do about it.

I call them the Pajama Club Patrol, pronounced, pa-troll, because they deflect attention from the serious nature of my subject, which is of great concern, to insult me in the worst way and the most stupid way they can. It’s almost as if they are what you would imagine to be Amazon’s most evil inner self coming at you. One member has admitted that they were asked by Amazon 10 years ago to “help out newbies” on this board and is still at it. Here are some highlights of what they say to “help out” the newbies:

“What don’t you understand about anything you’ve been told, sport? You’ve been told it enough times.”

“Your cluelessness is not curable.”

“Dead, beaten tender, and roasted to a fair-thee-well.”

“You’ve been having little girly hissy-fits for months now and you’ve inflicted your complete and utter lack of understanding–and your OBVIOUS exaggeration of your accomplishments (Published author, OMG, let me catch my breath from laughing this hard) from the jump, on everyone here.”

“Sweet Moses on a Pony. Your “copyright” does not entitle you to jack.”

“You are right up there with the guy with the crayon-drawn cover who was crying in here for while about KDP hiding the hundreds if not thousands of sales he’s sure his book is getting. Of course the big difference is he did actually publish something.”

“The retailer won’t pull it out of their hats, they’ll have to cancel the order if anyone is dumb enough to order a book for $50,000. That’s why the ridiculously high price – they don’t want people ordering it, but they want to have the ISBN in their database to be complete about having ALL books theoretically available.”

“Honestly! For the love of GOD, if someone is actually idiotic enough to order  @coffee’s book, at $50K or $50 or ANY price, the secondary retailer will simply have to cancel it, won’t they? WHY are we still talking about this? If the d@mned book is no longer for sale, then this entire discussion is moot. And it was crackbrained from the get-go!”

“I mean, who in their RIGHT MIND was ever going to order the book? And this idea that somehow, un-publishing it is some step toward the cessation of money-laundering is equally crack-brained. I mean, so what? So that the eeeeeviiilll money-launderers go choose from the extremely limited pool of the OTHER six million self-published books? GIMME A BREAK!”

 “Maybe you should just give up. You have been unnecessarily stressed for two years since you have never taken the time to educate yourself on how the resellers of paperbacks work and obviously refuse to because that would give you no reason to scream out your confusion. Yeah, you should just stop trying to publish.”

“Honestly, I’m surprised KDP has yet to ban your account for your own mental health.”

“I think it’s hilarious…now. At first it was sad that you never could understand where you were confused, now it’s so ridiculous that it’s hilarious, and continues to be so. I get that something may be wrong with you mentally, but your interfering in other folks questions to post your babble, dilutes that excuse.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there isn’t a book. In fact, it would make more sense if there wasn’t.”

“What I can’t figure out is if there really is a book. Did he publish a book and then unpub it? Or did he publish a book and KDP unpubbed it for him? Or did he never publish a book at all and thinks he did? If there’s a book for sale for $50K, and he’s the author, there must be a listing for it at Amazon. But he implies there is no listing, that it’s not for sale by him, but by a third party vendor for $50K. How can this be?”

“I expect this “issue” is something you are confused about, maybe something you did when you had no idea what you were doing when you did it.”

“What’s tiresome is your childish behavior of posting inane questions.”

“I expect you screwed up somewhere because you probably had/have no idea what you are doing, like your continuing confusion regarding third-party resellers.”

“You’re not special. And third-party sellers have every right to offer your book, as YOUR book, on their sites, even though all they probably have is a cover image.”

“It’s like you crave drama, and not getting it at home during the shut in, you need to get it on the forum by ignoring the facts told to you and continuing to cry foul. You certainly come off as the village idiot who shouldn’t be publishing because of the stress you go through for issues that don’t even exist.”

“Cabin fever much?”

To which I replied: The world pandemic should bring out more sympathy from people, especially between strangers. I guess you didn’t take your nice pill today. 

“There’s a popular definition of insanity, sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein, that it’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. ”

It’s called perseverance.

“…this snow-flakey crap isn’t important enough to care about.”

“Amazon asked me to volunteer time here to help newbies, 10 years ago, and I still do,” Hitch admitted.

The Amazon Fifty Thousand Dollar Book Club

I’m amazed to find my book in the
“Fifty Thousand Dollar Book Club” on Amazon.ca!

Check out the company that Tom and I, and our book, Baby For President, keep,
during the Great Pandemic…

What a great thrill it is to see that Baby For President is up there with such classics as the rare antique collectible 1894 edition of Great Expectations ($26,000), Alcoholics Anonymous 1st Edition 2nd Printing, 1941 ($12,999.99), The Cat in the Hat, First Edition, First Printing, 1957 ($9,500) and Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species 1st Issue, 1860 ($19,019.95) —

And yet our little book, Baby For President, a used, not so good copy, sells for more than any of these classic books — $50,000 Canadian Dollars! Not too shabby!  Who would ever think we’d see the day…

Except that it’s not very flattering when Amazon keeps our book out of print  – our self-published book through Amazon banned from US listing and $14.95 sales, yet it is listed for $50,000 and we receive none of the $7,500 commission that Amazon makes on this so-called sale from a listing of our book that isn’t even available – it’s not truth in advertising – our book is kept out of actual sale, not being able to be printed — we can’t buy any author copies and it’s not on Amazon.com — no books are in circulation, but Amazon is allowing the use of my copyrighted image on a phony listing of our book on “sale” for “$50,000” on Amazon.ca — wow — on an Amazon “Marketplace” that was just made public, in an article by CNBC, to be a hotbed of fraudulent activity.  Yes, I can relate to that…

It makes me miserable to know that my hard-earned copyrighted artwork is being used for such a purpose which is not fair and is not licensed by me.

See Also:

Getting nowhere fast with Amazon

Amazon – Noblesse Oblige

Replaced by newer?

Big Tech and You

On saying, “okay!”…. but user agreements are so overreaching.
Does it remind you of anything?

To the prisoners of Big Tech and those left standing

“She made her choice,” the judge said about Stephanie Sinclair and her photo on Instagram – that her client, Mashable could use it for free, even though they first offered her $50 that she turned down, exercising her right as the owner of the picture to set the value of her work. But Mashable then went behind her back, and posted it through Instagram’s API embedding feature, and the Mashable webpage it was posted to was filled with advertising, but Stephanie Sinclair received no payment. The judge dismissed the case without any discovery, without any jury trial, and without Instagram even being a party to it, after the case just sat on the previous judge’s desk for two years doing nothing before that judge retired. The new judge went with the “million dollar defense” that the photo was on Instagram so that gave Mashable the right to use it for free. Stephanie Sinclair made her choice, indeed it was a tough choice, but a choice nonetheless, when she signed up with Instagram. But that’s not how it is supposed to work!

Big Tech has us under siege – what’s ours is theirs and we have no choice.

I’ve been reading that our photographs are considered “goods” to Instagram, not copyrighted photos, yet we are granting Instagram carte blanche rights to our photos for nothing specific and for no good reason. Show us the harm in the terms, they say, show us a “ripe” example of damage. Really?

After all these years, Sinclair v. Mashable is perfectly “ripe” to test the fairness of Instagram, showing what harm it does to creative individuals who depend on rights to make a living. Do we want the client to use our photo for free, or don’t we? Hmm… on a page with lots of advertising making the client a lot of money on content you posted on your Instagram…. hmmm…  photographers always used to get paid for uses like that. All of a sudden we can’t tell a potential client that they can’t use our work for free, or at all, if we so choose. Who is Instagram to diminish us so?

Look around and you will see plenty more “ripe damage” caused by Instagram.

What about damage to artists getting ripped from our identity to our artwork caused by the automated metadata removal of all photos uploaded to Instagram?

What about the dozens of unauthorized mirror websites like insta-stalker.co (not to be confused with Instagram’s insta-stalker.com), picuki.com, picburn.net, and more coming online every day from all over the world including the United States, where you can actually download a full res file of any public Instagram photograph, sans copyright management information that we so purposely embedded into our digital files before uploading them to the internet and posting on Instagram? Our Instagram photos run through the Instagram API like a water faucet, that is turned on when you choose to be public, and off if you choose to be private, then on if you choose to be public again, including pornography probably not yours but it becomes associated with your good name and photos. And it all comes up in Google and stays there until you go to a lot of trouble to take it off, so good luck cleaning up that mess. Hope you have plenty of spare time and money for legal fees. And don’t forget to clear your cookies.

What about infringements that are facilitated by that constant pipeline of infringements? I’ll show you examples.

What about the sudden spawn of orphaned photos?

What about posting photos that are not your own, for example, perhaps you are Lenscratch or Magnum Photo, or any number of Instagram accounts that feature photographers, and the implicit transferable/royalty-free/sublicense/ including the indemnity clause and many other over-reaching terms?

What about photographers who shoot for Instagram accounts and that work for hire agreement you are asked to sign retroactively or else? The value of assignment photography is suddenly reduced to nothing.

What about Instagram takedown notices that should remove infringements right away, but instead, Instagram sends follow-up questionnaires, even when you give them the certified copyright registration number of the infringed photo? Whereas all other takedown notices are taken seriously.

What about Squarespace, a behemoth website provider, partnering with Getty Images to sell $10 photos to Squarespace website users, while cutting out Squarespace website user’s ability to retain copyright management information in the metadata of their digital photographs in order to show up someday in Google Images with a Licensable badge?

What about paragraph 1202 of the DMCA section of the U.S. copyright law?

I own valuable collections of copyrighted photographs. What an abuse of power for Big Tech to diminish an entire class of individuals who own copyrights. It’s like so many freelancers these days trying to get the promised Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, quarantined, in isolation. Individuals, artists, photographers, creatives, calling, writing, crying, for countess hours every day for their promised PUA, simply wasting away by an invisible force and calculated neglect until we are just gone.

No justice for little people. I can tell you all about it. We never did have a choice. How prophetic it was, 20 years ago, for the grandson of 20th Century monopolist J Paul Getty, the pioneer Big Tech monopolist of stock photography, Mark Getty to announce to the world, “Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st Century.”

Now that the damage to individual artists by Instagram is visibly “ripe,” just the way Instagram likes it, how about some regulation? How about a class-action lawsuit?


50th Anniversary of the Kent State Massacre

Howard Ruffner, photographer and student at Kent State University, was hired by Life Magazine to photograph the events of May 4, 1970. His photo is on the cover of the May 15, 1970 issue of the Life Magazine cover story about the Kent State massacre. He has published a thoughtful photographic memoir of the few days surrounding May 4, 1970 – Moments of Truth, (Kent State University Press, 2019.)

gasp masks, no students on campus, no graduation ceremony, unpopular president, protests, overwhelming resistance. We will commemorate the 50th May 4 online.

The irony.

May 4, 1970. Monday at noon.

In a monumental movement, college students across the country were standing up for what they believed in, standing up to The Power.  But then The Power pulled their guns and shot them.  At Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.

The Ohio National guard’s excuse was that stones were being thrown at them, by Kent State students who were 100 feet away, at the bottom of the hill. Most of them just on their way to class.

“Guard! All right, prepare to fire!”


1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  13

In thirteen seconds, the National Guard shot 64 bullets at the students, striking thirteen students; four shot dead.

Here’s what Life Magazine had for us on May 11:

“Nixon in a Crisis of Leadership.”  Nixon got the headlines.

They wouldn’t dare shoot bullets into a crowd of Yale students, but Kent State was a small town public university in Ohio where maybe they were considered expendable.

Nixon withdrew troops from Vietnam in 1971.

Newsweek, April 28, 1980

It took nine excruciating years for any money to reach the victims of the Kent State Massacre in a long and painful court case, and then an appeal. No guilt admitted. For this, many students, including Howard Ruffner, the photographer, who was the lead witness with his extensive photo documentation, had to devote extensive periods of time during the 1970’s to testify in court about the Kent State massacre.

There is no justice for little people.

Moments of Truth by Howard Ruffner. A photographer’s experience of Kent State 1970. Published in 2019 in remembrance of the Kent State massacre.

A Monday just like the day I’m posting this, on Monday, May 4, 2020, during the Great Pandemic.

But still:

“Stay passionate for what you believe and stand together to make changes.” -Howard Ruffner