Just what it says on the tin, folks. Click over to a forum post from Royal Road about a serial plagiarist who is taking free stories posted on Royal Road, adding a bit of window dressing, and posting it on Amazon as their own content.
The good news is if you ever find yourself in this situation Amazon is very good at responding to DMCA takedown notices. I’ve had someone copy my content before and the stuff was down within a day of me submitting a takedown notice.
The bad news is the people on Royal Road probably won’t be able to go after this person for damages unless they registered their copyright, which is unlikely if they were posting it on a chapter by chapter basis on a free publishing site. Remember kids: the DMCA makes copyright yours at the moment of creation, but you only get to go after someone for damages if you pay to register that copyright!
Does this mean you shouldn’t post to free sites like Royal Road? Not necessarily. They can be a good way to gather attention. I’ve personally found that it’s better to try and build an audience on the paying platform you want to eventually publish on rather than trying to build an audience on a site where people are accustomed to free and you try to convert them to paying, but there are people who’ve made it work.
So if you’re popular on Royal Road beware and keep an eye out for your work appearing under a different byline on Amazon or other ebook retailers!