How to 'republish' free material from Wikipedia IS a Corporate Scandal

How profitable, or ethical, is it to republish work that is available for free on wikipedia?

I was surprised and rather angry that our free wikipedia article called "Community Film" has now appeared as a "book" edited by Zheng Cirino. But Duc Publishing is just an imprint of VDM Publishing. (See below)

Has anyone come across this 'writer' and 'editor' of over 4500 books? Would you spend £25 on what you can have for free? Take a look on Amazon.

And the cover bears the curious imprint  'Books for Africa'. OK. So this is about social mission and redistribution, right?

I would be curious to see how they reference and attribute my work based on the Wikipedia Edit / page history.

But I don't think I need to waste £25 reading my own work, which is already available for free!

(Even the Product Description simply copies my words from the opening of the Wikipedia article on COMMUNITY FILM)

Here is what one commentator (erich666) said on Slashdot

"In recent months a flood of so-called books have been appearing in Amazon's catalog. VDM Publishing's imprints Alphascript and Betascript Publishing have listed over 57,000 titles, adding at least 10,000 in the previous month alone. These books are simply collections of linked Wikipedia articles put into paperback form, at a cost of 40 cents a page or more. These books seem to be computer-generated, which explains the peculiar titles noted such as 'Vreni Schneider: Annemarie Moser-Pröll, FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, Winter Olympic Games, Slalom Skiing, Giant Slalom Skiing, Half Man Half Biscuit.' Such titles do have the marketing effect of turning up in many different searches. There is debate on Wikipedia about whether their 'VDM Publishing' page should contain the words 'fraud' or 'scam.' VDM Publishing's practice of reselling Wikipedia articles appears to be legal, but is ethically questionable. Amazon customers have begun to post 1-star reviews and complain. Amazon's response to date has been, 'As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item they might be seeking.' The words 'and pay us' were left out. Amazon carries, as a Googled guess, 2 million different book titles, so VDM Publishing is currently 1/35th of their catalog, and rapidly growing."

Finally I note  this comment from 

"The creators in the free-knowledge community are in fact copyright holders, just like the creators in the media industry, but unlike most industries, creators in the free-knowledge community volunteer to promote progress and innovation by releasing their content under a free license that provides their creations to the world for no cost." 


The power of free knowledge


  1. Amazon has today removed the plagiarized product description and partially removed the book from its own catalogue.

  2. Amazon has also now removed almost all of Zheng Cirino's so called 4,500 'editions' from their catalogue.

  3. The Mechanic Muse ... "Do Androids Dream of Electric Authors?" from New York Times:

    VDM Publishing puts a notice on the cover of its books, boasting “high-quality content by Wikipedia articles!” Still, not every buyer sees the disclaimer. Librarians, for instance, report that they must be vigilant in order to avoid wasting money on the robot-books. Readers complain that the books proliferate like kudzu in online stores.

    But the invasion of robot-books is unsettling for another reason. I think we can all agree that it’s O.K. for robots to take over unpleasant jobs — like cleaning up nuclear waste. But how could we have allowed them to commandeer one of the most gratifying occupations, that of author?"

  4. Amazon appears to have stopped directly selling some 550,000 VDM 'books' - although they are still available from some of their associated dealers.

  5. No. I was wrong. They're at it again. 700+ wikipedia reprints now appearing as though published by CIV.

  6. What they are doing may be unethical, but it is 100% legal per the creative commons licence used on Wikipedia.

  7. Yes, it was so UNETHICAL that Amazon and other online retailers have stopped directly selling some 550,000 VDM 'books' ! A victory then?


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