Complaint / review text:
Playster is a new company formed in 2015 that prides itself on values and working with independent authors.
However, they have a serious problem that they appear not willing to address, namely that a lot of their revenue comes from Russian based affiliate marketing agencies that refer people to them to subscribe to a membership where they can supposedly download unlimited E-Books in PDF form.
The affiliate agencies engage in false and misleading advertising that involves creating vast numbers of websites, sometimes using hijacked domain-names, or using affiliates that create multiple Google Blogspot blogs hosting scraped descriptions of authors copyrighted titles. The websites often contain download buttons which then redirect to Playster.
The websites rank high in Google and proport to offer free downloads via Playster. The scam is that usually the book is not available, but one only finds out after signing up for a free trial, which many consumers report difficult to cancel and incur charges on their credit cards
The internet has many complaints of such activities.
The scraped websites are always in violation of DMCA regulations and Playster get around it by claiming it is their affiliates that are responsible. Many of the websites cannot be delisted with Google, as they contain hijacked domain names that imitate real ones and when clicked on lead to Playster affiliate banners. Because of this, Google often cannot locate the original infringing content and such websites rank highly in Google for months, even if the affiliate banner is deactivated.
I personally have filed over 100+ DMCA complaints with Playster. I have also filed complaints with web hosts, one problem being that the hosts are in Russia and there is a lot of red tape to file a DMCA takedown, including translating the DMCA complaint into Russian and having it notarized in Russian and English. Given the number of infringements, this is beyond the standard means of many independant authors. Thus it can be said such affiliate marketing agencies are DMCA immune and thus removing affiliate links is close to impossible.
In December 2016, Playster were sent a cease and desist letter in relation to my book, but did not cease and desist the behaviour. Even if one can clear the web, it is only a matter of days before fresh blogs appear with new affiliate advertising.
This does a great disservice to independant authors and Playster clearly profit from the behaviour which is wrong.
Some of the affiliate marketing also utilizes FB 'comment farms' where apparently fake users post comments about how good the book is, or how they read the book, even though the book is not available.
This constitutes false and misleading advertising, using copyrighted images of authors books.
The problem is prolific and as yet Playster do not have a handle on it. The problem is admitted on their website, althouh is downplayed in contrast to the reality of the situation:-
We work with a number of performance advertising networks, and are aware that, occasionally, third-party sites we don’t own or control might refer to intellectual property in their advertisements for Playster that we do not actually carry in our catalogue. While we do our very best to police this, our advertising network is vast, and sometimes unscrupulous advertisers can go unnoticed.
The publishing manager who is Colin Strachan who appears to be the one that takes DMCA complaints, blocked my email, presumably because of the large number of valid DMCA complaints, and because I asked him to expunge infringing links from Google, which has not been done.
Since then, fresh links have appeared, necessitating further work.
They also dishonoured a US $10, 000 bill from my company for DMCA admin work that necessitated making 180+ DMCA complaints to clear up the web AND ignored a legal cease and desist letter, and continue the behaviour.
They do it to many authors and there are many complaints online about Playsters activities.
Independant authors are advised NOT to publish their work with Playster.
One Unhappy Independant Author