Online Mobs, Controversy, and LendInk

I have been accused of ‘escalating’ the mess by a fellow KDP forum member because I bothered to read a lot about the LendInk situation, made some logical deductions based on that reading, and then wouldn’t back down from my assessment that there wasn’t anything illegal going on.

First of all, LendInk was not a pirate site. As has been stated by many, it was simply a site where ereader owners could meet each other, and then return to whichever retailer in order to legally loan their purchased ebooks to one another.

If your book wasn’t loanable, then it couldn’t be loaned. People signed up to test that before the site was taken down and found it to be true.

LendInk did have Amazon affiliate links in place, encouraging readers to purchase books that weren’t lendable or listed with lends available. That’s what the affiliate program does: lets people ‘sell’ Amazon products on their own sites.

I was ‘outted’ by this person as the ‘Scath’ who’d commented on a couple of blogs.

Hello, I’ve been using the name ‘Scath’ since I signed up for Twitter almost five years ago, and both ‘Gayla Drummond’ and ‘G. L. Drummond’ have been associated with it for that length of time. I even use ‘gldrummond’ as my KDP forum username. I’m also ‘Scath2012’ sometimes (I think for Disqus). [waves at everyone :)]

Why yes, that is my real name. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Nice detective work. ;)

For some reason, the fact that LendInk’s security certificate was expired causes some people to believe that there was something hinky going on there.

I asked House Hunney to explain security certificates to me, because he handles those for our hosting company. I’ve simplified his explanation as much as possible.

A security certificate is basically an encryption algorithm. It’s unique to the domain name that it’s issued to, and the server that it’s on. Meaning you can’t move that website to a different server without getting a new security certificate, because it’s unique to that combination.

If a certificate is expired, the encryption is still ongoing. It just means that the owner of the site hasn’t paid to renew the certificate, and that the issuing company hasn’t recently verified the owner and site information.

In short, an expired security certificate doesn’t mean anything illegal was going on. The businesses that issue security certificates aren’t worried about anything except verifying that the people purchasing them are who they say they are, and are using them on the site they say they are.

Then there is a mysterious ‘letter of endorsement’ from Amazon that has been mentioned on the KDP forums (that’s the only place I’ve seen it mentioned). The first mention I saw of this letter, I immediately returned to LendInk to look for it.

All I found was the form letter Amazon sent out to inform California affiliates that the affiliate program was being closed down due to the tax disagreement.

Another KDP forum member searched Google archives, and only found the letter about the affiliate program related to LendInk. So far, no one has come forward with a screenshot of this ‘letter of endorsement’, or another archive link that proves this ‘letter of endorsement’ existed and was posted to LendInk. Mr. Porter doesn’t know anything about this mysterious ‘letter of endorsement’ (he was kind enough to respond to an email I sent him last night).

As far as claims of me ‘escalating’ the ‘lynch mob’ out for blood of authors and publishers who did and are still claiming LendInk was doing something wrong, that’s bullshit, people.

I looked at LendInk, drew my own conclusion that nothing illegal was going on by reading the FAQs and comprehending them, and I stood up for what was right. I told people to chill out, that Lendink was a GOOD thing.

I do not know everyone on the internetz. I do not control anyone’s mind but my own. I am responsible only for my own actions, opinions, and words.

I did not issue a public ‘call’ for lists of names of those who decided LendInk was a pirate site. I did state, on the KDP forums, that I would love a list of the pen names of those in that forum so that I do not buy their books, or accidentally promote them-mainly because I don’t want to end up like Mr. Porter, accused of piracy by a bunch of idiots. Nor do I want to line the pockets of any author who purposefully ruins a source of free promotion for authors. Which is what LendInk was.

I did try to logically piece together the puzzle for people who seemed to believe that the whole thing was a big publicity stunt coordinated by Mr. Porter, and who apparently weren’t capable of putting together the fact that LendInk was sold prior to June 6, 2011 to him, so that he was the current owner.

Instead, it was something along the lines of ‘so he sold the site and now he’s trying to make people pay him?’ which I honestly don’t even understand how that bubbled to the damn surface. It doesn’t even make sense.

Also, the governing law for claims against LendInk was listed on the site as ‘the State of Ontario’. I deduced, due to having some experience in selling domain names/websites, that that tiny fragment of information likely hadn’t been changed when the website exchanged hands, due to the fact that shortly after Mr. Porter acquired LendInk, Amazon shut down the affiliate program in California.

Not that it even matters, but whatever. He bought the site, Amazon shut down the affiliate program, and his investment in a money earning proposition was basically worthless, so he moved on to other things like any other person would, and ‘State of Ontario’ didn’t get changed to ‘State of California’. Big freaking whoop.

But you know what?

None of those little burrs under people’s saddle blankets matter, because there wasn’t anything illegal going on with LendInk. They can nitpick about them all they want: THEY DON’T MATTER.

Here’s the thing: People are going to do what they’re going to do.

If you piss someone off, then you’re going to get some backlash. In this case, the backlash is a lot of pissed off readers and other people, some of whom want a list of names of those involved in taking LendInk down and causing so much trouble for Mr. Porter. Some of whom are making such lists and publicly posting them with proof in the form of tweets or Facebook status updates.

You guys chose to do what you did. I’m not responsible for your actions, and I’m not responsible for the resulting reactions of others to your choice.

I am not responsible for your failure to do due diligence before jumping on someone’s bandwagon just because the words ‘ebook’ and ‘piracy’ were uttered.

I neither agree nor disagree with those lists being created. I don’t have any control over them, but I have been aware for years that such lists are made and that authors who ‘behave badly’ end up on them. A lot of people have that same awareness, so there’s a whole group of us who aren’t surprised such a thing has happened as a result of this LendInk controversy.

I am more than likely on some people’s ‘Do Not Buy’ lists for various reasons: because I promote authors they don’t like, or because while I was trying to learn about piracy and make my mind up where I stood on it, I said a few dumb ass things. I’m probably being added to even more lists because I stood up for LendInk. ;)

I only have control over my personal list of authors from whom I won’t buy books from for various reasons, and it is my right to have such a list based on my right to have damn opinions about things and to decide where to spend my book money as a reader.

But I will tell you that each author on my list is on there because of stupid shit like this.

Oh, and I am by no means affiliated with LendInk. I’m just one of the people who bothered to check things out and draw my own conclusions instead of jumping on the ‘Kill LendInk’ bandwagon. :)

Update: I made a mistake in regards to reading a claim made by one author that s/he was calling out a ‘copycat’ site, lendlnk.com, with a small L instead of an i. I totally misunderstood what the claim was, and apologize for that.

However, lendlnk.com didn’t exist on August 6th, when that author made that claim. It was registered yesterday.

Whois lookup through register.com

For those who may lack the gift of comprehension: On the records, domain names are in capital letters. In URLs, they’re always lower-case. So yes, this would be the site that author claimed s/he was talking about. ;)

There also seems to be a lot of authorial confusion about the use of cover images on LendInk.com. They don’t seem to realize that when they publish on Amazon, they’re granting Amazon the right to use the uploaded files in basically anyway Amazon sees fit to.

That includes cover images being used for promotional purposes…and Amazon’s affiliate program, which LendInk’s owner was a member of, is a promotional item.

You don’t have the right to require Amazon affiliates to request your permission to use your cover images, star rating, pricing, and probably blurbs before placing affiliate links/ads on their sites, people. That’s not how affiliate programs work.

Feel Free to Share...Tweet about this on Twitter15Share on Facebook10Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+2

If you found this post useful or entertaining, tips are appreciated. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/tmycann Tonya Cannariato

    Oh Mighty Katana of Truth! (Thank you for the record of reason.) :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.cushing1 Tim Cushing

    Thanks for the link back to my post, Scath/GL. I really enjoyed reading through the give-and-take of kdp threads, especially you slashing through Vwhatever’s endless, looping, “but something’s wrong” self-justification.

    There seems to be a lot of that still floating around, as you’ve pointed out. One of the “unfortunate” denizens of the screencap that I put in the Techdirt post has spent large amounts of the last two days telling me how I’ve somehow misrepresented her actions by taking a screenshot of her actual tweets. Go figure. A lot of “I wasn’t the ringleader but because of you, people think I am,” and “I don’t deserve this” (referring to harassment and such from, well, I have no idea exactly, but I would guess “The Internet.”)

    Lots of fun there. You take someone’s actual quote and they try to twist it into “it was all someone else’s idea. I was barely there!” A lot of gloating when the site when down and now a whole lot of contriteness, terse apologies and blogs/twitter accounts suddenly going invite-only. It’s all fun and games as long as your bandwagon is collecting the scalps. Not so much when the tide turns.

    Thanks again, Scath. More importantly, though, thanks for sticking up for Lendink. There weren’t very many writers doing it and you were one of the writers doing it best.

    A little extra fun: here’s a screenshot I could have used for the TD post, if I was a complete bastard. ;) Completely unaltered from the original “lendink” twitter search. Someone may not have been the “ringleader,” but she was rather exuberant in her complicity.

    http://imgur.com/kSnp4

  • Scath2012

    No problem. The Katana needed some exercize, LOL.

  • Scath2012

    Or they delete their tweets and statuses and pretend like it never happened. Seen a few of those too. ;)

    Those who have been taking such pleasure in their part of taking down LendInk really tick me off. There was no reason for them, except I suppose that they can’t be bothered to check something out before deciding what it is and what it does.

    This was just so wrong, and I feel badly for Mr. Porter and his web host for having so much crap to deal with because of it. :(

    Thanks for dropping by, Tim. :)

  • keytiri

    I’m amazed that authors were able to read Lendink’s terms of service to pick out the tidbit about the State of Ontario, when they were unable to read and understand their own Amazon’s Terms & Conditions about e-book lending.

    I looked into it, and determined that the creator had registered and hosted the site in Ontario, Canada. I’m assuming the creator was Canadian due to how he worded the Terms and Services. After Dale bought it, he did indeed update the registry and footer, he just missed one thing.

  • Scath2012

    Oops, missed replying to you earlier. Sorry. :(

    Not that it was a huge reply, because I was going to say “I know, right?” :)

  • http://twitter.com/msmithobx M Smith

    I saw this thing pop up on Cnet a day or two ago and just got sucked in. I’m one of those people who loves to write but has very little talent for it. I like to read indie authors, because I identify with them, but I hate reading the so-called ‘vanity press’ crowd without an endorsement from someone I know, because I almost drowned in the drivel and purple prose I kept finding there. The blog posts and twitter accounts that led to blog posts have introduced me to a whole new group of authors I’ll be checking out (and buying). They’ve also led to me to a nice long list of authors to add to my (already very long) list of ‘don’t even bother’ writers. You’re one of the only responders I’ve seen who didn’t degenerate into the mob – on either side. Thanks for staying sane throughout this whole thing, and for keeping me entertained for a couple of days.

  • Scath2012

    That’s extremely nice of you to say. Thank you! :)

    But I’m really insane. Really. I’m a writer! ;)

  • gobblervt

    I focused on this issue in my last blog as well … I think you are dead on. http://aaronspeca.blogspot.com/2012/08/patriots-or-pirates-part-3.html

  • ChoctawJac

    If these so called authors had only done their research on the site and understood what they read as a legitimate site, this problem wouldn’t have happened. Their lack of research makes me wonder how much research they do for their books before they hit the publish button and how much of what is in their books is wrong do to their lack of research needed for most books written.

  • Scath2012

    Unfortunately, there are an amazing number of ‘authors’ who don’t even bother to read the terms they agree to when publishing at Amazon (and I’ll guess at other retailers either). I’ve been on the KDP forums for 2 years or so, and have answered the same damn questions over and over again, as have many others, whose answers were in black and white in the terms.

    So this situation doesn’t really surprise me. What does surprise me is that it doesn’t happen more often, though I’m glad it doesn’t!

    I wouldn’t know about their writing skills, as I haven’t seen anyone I’ve read listed anywhere. Some may be good writers who believed the hype simply because so many others were screaming their fool heads off (that’s not an excuse, just saying it did likely occur). But I’d guess many of them are now regretting taking part in the mess, because it became rather well-publicized.

  • Scath2012

    Nice post. Thanks for dropping in. :)

  • http://twitter.com/tmycann Tonya Cannariato

    What really confuses me: Our book covers are our best ads for our books. Why in the world would we be picky about anyone who chose to post/link to/otherwise promote this free ad for our words??

  • Scath2012

    I know, right?
    It’s like they want to stop any and all word of mouth online about their books (and everyone else’s, which I don’t appreciate at all).

  • ChoctawJac

    Yes, I totally agree with. People jumped on the bandwagon because they saw their friends do it…just like lemmings. I also think that some of the people who jumped on it are new to the self-publishing industry (just recently published their first book this year) and are not familiar with what happened a year go with lendle.com and did not read or understand their Amazon contracts. I am not a lawyer, don’t understand have of what I read when it comes to using legal terms, etc., and I don’t use a lot of big words in my writing and have to look up a lot of words writers do use, but even I understood hearing about the site and after reading their FAQ for maybe 20 minutes, knew they weren’t doing anything illegal. I tried to convince someone I’m not friends with on facebook to read the FAQ and she just said “my lawyer is handling getting my book removed”

  • Scath2012

    Yeah, everyone’s always quick to lawyer up when they think they’ve been wronged. Sheesh.

    I thought LendInk’s FAQs were clear and easy to understand. I think a lot of people just didn’t even bother to look at them before going *OMGzPiratez*!

  • ChoctawJac

    Oh I know they didn’t read them or if they did, they totally didn’t understand them. I was surprised I did, lol. I am reading now how one author apologizd here:
    http://www.digitalmediamachine.com/2012/08/what-happened-to-lendink-owner-explains.html and they are attacking her. Not sure how I feel about that other than I think she should be instrumental in going back to those authors/sites and try to make it right, try to get them to understand what she and all the others did was wrong. I did see that one author’s books on Amazon since yesterday are getting 1 star reviews and one even mentioned all the mess she helped create in their review and that was why they were leaving it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.cushing1 Tim Cushing

    Don’t sweat the lowercase “L”/uppercase “I” mistake. I made that one myself. My excuse is this: the original post was in sans serif font. I composed my post in sans serif (Google Docs using the much-maligned Arial) and dumped it into Techdirt’s composition software which… also uses sans serif. In short, I blame society. And technology. In that order.

    It was pointed out a few times in the comment threads but at least the pointers made themselves useful by sniffing out the fact that Lend-capital-L-nk had never been registered in any permutation (.co, .biz, .org, etc.) Until yesterday, apparently. Odd, that.

    I hate making mistakes but I do and because of that simple fact, I rarely go around pointing others out to them. Unless, of course, the person making the mistake has been an utter ass. Then (and only then) do I start pointing.

    The other long and short of it is: the head pirate hunter was full of shlt. Doesn’t matter how you spell it, Shawn. It’s still a lie. And a bad one at that.

  • Scath2012

    Well, I’m sure there are people who do think I’m being an utter ass, LOL. But I like to apologize when I screw up. I don’t feel as bad about that screw up as I would’ve if LENDLNK.COM had been online for a while, and there were archived pages of it showing that it was a copycat site. ;)

  • Scath2012

    All I can say is that sort of thing isn’t new when it comes to interactions between authors and readers. Every time an author behaves badly (and I’m not saying every single instance of such is actual bad behavior), there are readers who whip out their ‘do not buy’ lists, and there are people who will do other things. Like one starring their books, down voting their good reviews, etc.

    Welcome to the internetz, where stuff like this goes on in every community about every possible thing there is, all the time. :|

  • fiona64

    Hi. I’m one of the people who screwed up as regards LendInk and has spent the past couple of days trying to get my apology and amends posted as many places as possible — specifically because I know where I went wrong in shooting the proverbial messenger. I’m not everyone, and I can only speak for myself. I have written two apologies in my blog (one reiterates the personal e-mail I sent to Mr. Porter in which I apologize as well). I have verified on my KDP dashboard that lending was not enabled there for my titles (in fact, I only charge enough to even *qualify* for the 70 percent royalty that carries mandatory lending on one of them). However, lending was enabled on my titles by my distributor when they were sent to Barnes & Noble, and Amazon’s teensy print (for lack of a better way to put it) says that they can lend anything if they find it on another site. I’m working with my distributor and B&N to try to rectify the problem. I hope that you, and your readers, will also have a look at the comments. There is some thoughtful discussion there. I was wrong, and I am more sorry than I can possibly convey. I am also appalled that there are people gloating about what happened to Mr. Porter’s site, and that there have been personal threats issued. No matter how angry someone is, that is not at all acceptable.

    I understand that you do not have to accept anything I say here, but I appreciate the opportunity to publicly apologize again. http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2840433-lendink-why-i-was-angry-and-why-i-am-sorry

  • Scath2012

    I think it’s great that you’ve apologized, Sharon, both publicly and personally to Dale Porter. It takes courage to admit mistakes. =)

    I haven’t seen many other authors apologizing-I think you’re only the 3rd or 4th to have done so. Some are trying to pretend nothing happened by deleting their tweets & such, others are now complaining of being victimized (the lists/vendetta), and others are STILL convinced Lendink was doing something wrong and all of us who’ve taken the stance that it wasn’t are the idiots. Go figure, huh? ;)

  • Luke

    I’m not friends with on facebook to read the FAQ and she just said “my lawyer is handling getting my book removed”

    I have another opinion…
    click