With Google clamping down on content farms, the attention of those looking to get rich quickly from churning out content is now turning to major ebook retailers – and to selling stolen and replicated content.
A key starting point of the problem is Private Label Rights content (PLR), which allows anyone to buy prewritten content in bulk that they can then make into ebooks or website content. PLR seller Ronnie Nijmeh of PLR.me describes it as "royalty-free content, which means, when you pay for a licence, you get the rights to use the content without royalty in nearly any way you please". We might be familiar with that in photographs – the stock photo – but when it comes to words, the idea of reusing them is less well-known. But the explosion in the number of ebook readers has made such reuse suddenly attractive to some.
Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, an ebook distributor, sees PLR as "one of the worst threats to ebooks today". It's an easy system to get involved in as well, and "idiots fall prey to the PLR schemes and pay their $24.95 a month or whatever to access vast databases of generic content, and they have the ability to mix and match this content and republish it as an ebook in their own name."
This isn't an issue only observed by Smashwords, with AJ McDonald of Lulu, a print and digital book distributor, experiencing similar problems. "A growing concern in the ebook space is the publishing of public domain content. Sites such as Project Gutenberg and Wikipedia make it very possible for potential authors to grab works and [legally] republish them as their own," says McDonald. In the commercial market of ebooks this raises customer concerns over just what is good content, and which books are nothing more than amalgamated online information.
News 1 year ago