Lulu and copyright infringement..

'Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran' was published last year.  It's a collection of images and poems that I put together to shed some light on living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Part of the process was to do a quality control check by examining samples from different printers.  One of which were 'Lulu' (  Lulu have a london office but are an american company.  I looked at producing two versions of the book with them: paper and an eBook.

The paper version was of a very low quality compared to the UK company that I eventually went with.  The eBook was acceptable.

However, before launching any major campaign re the book in the USA, I had to get some tax paperwork sorted out and had to apply for a tax number under the USA Inland Revenue guidelines or I would lose 30% of any royalties by default as tax payments.  There are certain tax provisions between the USA and the UK that allow this to be addressed and I followed Lulu's initial advice and went down the route, filled out the necessary forms and a few months later - voila!  I had my US tax number.  Lulu now failed to provide adequate advice on what to now do with it - which was a complete turn around after my initial enquiries into the matter.

The matter was complicated, convoluted and stressful.  So I contacted Lulu and deleted all my projects with them and asked for all my associated 'coprighted' files to be deleted.

First they said,

Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 19:16:37 +0000


To: Wolf
Subject: [ ref:00D56zQ]
Dear Villayat,

 Thank you for your reply. All of your projects have been deleted. Some of the files that are in your account cannot be deleted in the full sense of the word. They are tied to the orders that were placed in the system and deleting them would be harmful to the file database. When you close your account, all files inside of the account are locked away with that account.

We will never access these files; they remain stagnate in the system. You retain all copyright rights to your book. We will not use or distribute the files once the account is closed. We are sorry, but once the files used in a project have been tied to an order, there is no way to delete them. The best we can do is quarantine them if you like. This will place them in a file-system of no return. Please let me know if you would like us to quarantine your files; it is as close to deleting them as we can do. I hope you have a wonderful day.

 Kind Regards,

 David K.

Lulu Enterprises, Inc.

Now bearing in mind that I am both the author and publisher of the book and had sufficiently copyrighted the material, I was a little annoyed with their failure to respect my copyright and wrote the following response:

Morning David,

I'm writing in response to your email from my business email address. I suggest you escalate this matter to a manager.

I don't accept your (Lulu's) reasoning or excuse for not deleting my files.

The only reason that Lulu could have to not delete a person's files would be to keep them for future use when the copyright protection runs out.

I'm a member of the Royal Photographic Society and the European News Agency.

Copyright is a very hot issue right now.

I want my files deleted ASAP. You have no customers around these 2 publications apart from me, your records and mine coroborate this fact. I purchased copies to 'quality control' the product. You are not authorised to sell any of my books. You therefore have no reason to keep my files on record.

I draw your attention to my copright notice contained within both titles:

'All poems and images remain the ©copyright of the author, Villayat Sunkmanitu. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.'

You do not have my authority to store my work. Your function was as a printer and distributor. I am the author and the publisher. I have worked in the IT industry for a number of years and know that there is no reason stopping you from being able to delete my work files.

I will start reporting on this issue via various outlets within 24 hours if my files are still on your system. I suggest you delete my files ASAP.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu LRPS.

The next response was from one of Lulu's managers:

Sent: 03 August 2011 16:14

To: wolf-

Subject: RE: FW: [ ref:00D56zQ6.]

Hi Villayat,

Thank you for the details and your concern. Even though you are the sole buyer of the materials, the back-end systems do not allow deletion as they are tied to an order and allow us to remain compliant in auditing situations. Technically you are correct, a file can be deleted from the servers manually. This is not normal practice for us when someone closes an account.

Once you close your account, or when you make your content Private access only, we are no longer able to distribute or sell the content, regardless of the files stored in our internal systems. This is against the member agreement, and we never claim to have copyright access to files made available on our site by our authors. That is what we are all about, author control of copyright.

As you mention, we store and distribute based on how you set up your projects. Again, once "deleted" or put in Private access only, we will not sell or distribute to ANYONE or any channels, whatsoever.

At your request, we will quarantine your content as David suggested to ensure no one within Lulu can access the files, which would be against our policy, regardless.

Have a nice day.

Rachel Braynin

Manager, Customer Voice.

So, my files relating to the book that are protected by copyright reside on a server and the company refuses to respect my legal copyright and delete the files.

I wrote to them a few minutes ago and gave them 7 days notice to delete all my files and copied the UK Intellectual Property Office into the message, having discussed the matter with them over the phone.

Let's hope that Lulu delete the files.  Had I known that these types of problems would arise with regrds to my files relating to my titles, I never would have used Lulu and it certainly puts me off dealing with any other online printer with regards to my future books.

I found the comment 'Technically you are correct, a file can be deleted from the servers manually. This is not normal practice for us when someone closes an account', very worrying indeed and wondered if authors with Lulu realise the implications of work remaining on their servers long term.  What happens to all the written work in 70 years time?


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