As you know, I spend most of my time volunteering for NOAA doing reef monitoring, and writing books.
The reef monitoring is because we need to protect our oceans, and I encourage you to please avoid using plastic of any kind, and to lower your carbon footprint as much as you can. What you do does effect the oceans! Here on Guam we have seen a huge loss in coral due to climate change, and everything you an do to help matters.
As for writing books; that is because of my friend Dave Strand. He wrote an app called Multi-Path Audio Books for Apple, and he needed stories to go in the app. I had been a journalist, and I had written textbooks. However, I had never written fiction before. I considered it an exciting challenge, and I wrote a book called The Vampire’s Sister.
This made me realize that it was possible to write a full-length novel. I guess you could say I “got the bug” from The Vampire’s Sister, and I went on from there. I don’t think I was very good at first, but I would like to think that I have gotten better as time went on.
I wrote The Teenager’s Guide to life, which is a collection of short stories about life as a young person. This book has illustrations by Anthony Black, and has been a fun collaboration.
I also wrote a series of romance novels called The Jamie Johnson Trilogy. This was meant as a counter to the negative books about BDSM like 50 Shades of Grey, which portray kink as abuse.
And then I wrote the book that ruined it all: The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster; Dinner 2.0.
I wrote it under the pen name Violet Johnson, and I was intending to use it to try to start a movement towards kindness and unity. After all, the main problem in politics and society these days is that artificial divisions are causing people to loose sight of real human values.
I worked for a year on The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I read all kinds of modern philosophy and listened to podcasts of people talking about comparative morality in the digital age. Rich helped me come up with ideas here and there. I took all my old vacation photos and Photo-shopped a Spaghetti Monster Rich made into them for the social media. We had fun, but it was a lot of work.
After a year of hard work, I published my book through Createspace. This is an Amazon company that my friend Chris Backe recommended to me. He thought it would be easier than wasting years trying to sell it to a publisher, and pointed out that I could control my own distribution and pricing. It sounded perfect.
However, less than a day after the book came out, Bobby Henderson reported it to Amazon for copyright infringement. You may wonder how this could be possible, since I wrote the entire book myself and I created all the images for it out of my own photos.
The thing is this:
The burden of proof is on me.
In other words: You can create an original work and it can bear no resemblance to anything else that has ever been created before. But if someone has a copyright on something similar (say the image of a flying spaghetti monster that I did NOT use) then they can report you. They do not have to prove that you infringed on their copyright.
See this clip of John Oliver explaining about patent trolls, which is essentially what has happened here, but with copyright.
There are only two ways to fix the issue:
1. Robert Henderson contacts Amazon and tells them that he reported my book in error, and asks them to please release it.
2. I hire a lawyer to prove that the work is original and protected by parody law, and they force Amazon to release it.
Now as you know, I spend most of my time writing or volunteering. I don’t have money for a lawyer. So here is what I am asking of you, my fellow humans:
Write to Robert Henderson and ask him to contact Amazon and straighten this out. I have already written to him myself, but I have not gotten a response. However, maybe a few more voices will change things.
His e-mail is: email@example.com
What he needs to do to resolve the matter is write to BOTH:
firstname.lastname@example.org AND email@example.com
He needs to tell them what he admitted to me in private, which is that he reported my book in error, and that he rescinds his report of copyright infringement.
In the meantime, I would never let a year of work and a good idea go to waste. So, you can download the book for free here or get it at the website I set up for it, which is The Unitarian Church of Pasta.
Please download the book and read it. Give it to your friends and ask them to read it. Spread it far and wide because I put my heart and soul into my books and having them be censored like this is so painful for me. I would mean the world to me if you could help out.
And e-mail Bobby because he already admitted he made a mistake in reporting my book, but if he doesn’t take the next step and tell Amazon that, it will be years before I can get my book back from them.