An article touting the effectiveness of article marketing just came into my inbox today. The author talks about ways a non-writer can have information products — in his/her own name without lifting the pen! One of his suggestions is to “buy private label rights to a collection of articles or product.” According to the author, “you can then edit them anyway you like and most importantly, put your name on them and claim authorship!”
I don’t have any beef with the concept of private label rights. This is an old income generating technique that has been applied successfully to various types of products. My problem with “private label articles” focuses mainly on the question: who actually gave the permission for an article to be sold as part of “private label articles?”
Let me point a specific instance and show how “private label articles” can be a double-edged sword.
One visitor alerted us to the fact that one of our articles, “Starting a Florist Shop Business” by our very own Jenny Fulbright was then being sold on eBay. Yes, on eBay!!! The seller was offering the article in two versions – one for download (about $2.99) and another one a printed version ($8.99). The article was going fast! The seller was offering the article as fixed price Buy it Now, with 50 quantities per auction. All 50 were gone in 3 days. So for the download version alone, the seller was making about $149.50, less eBay and Paypal fees. Not bad — for something that was not his!
We acted quickly, and posed as one of the buyers. We purchased the article, and got the downloaded version in order to check whether the article in question is indeed our article. And what do you know? It is a word for word copy of our article — except for the copyright notice and byline! The seller claimed the byline and the copyright of the article. After proving to eBay that we own the copyright of the article (and becoming part of eBay’s Verified Rights Owner’s Program), we were able to cancel the next batch of auctions and the succeeding ones. The seller was slapped a suspension by eBay. We also sent the seller a cease-and-desist notice.
What was his excuse? He didn’t know that we own the copyright to the article, because the article was one of the private label articles he bought in a CD-ROM from another seller. So he thought that he could actually claim the article as his because that was part of the deal when he bought the CD-rom. This seller was then running about 150 different auctions at that time, selling different “how to” articles, all purposely from his “private label articles” collection.
Unfortunately, the seller refused to give us the name of the website where he got the “private label articles” CD, but promised never to sell the article again. True to his word, we never saw his eBay user ID again, or the article being sold again on eBay (and we check — up to now).
But our experience showed the real risk to other writers out there: are your articles being repackaged as part of a “private label” collection of articles without your consent?