Durham PhD theses sold on Amazon without authors’ consent

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A number of theses written by former and current Durham University PhD students are being sold as Kindle books on Amazon without the authors’ knowledge.

The authors of the theses have received no payment for any sales, and no recognition that the work is theirs. Durham PhD theses are freely available online at their e-thesis repository but cannot be sold in any format or medium without the permission of the copyright holders.

The theses are being sold under the accounts Durham Philosophy, which has 1200 theses listed available for sale, and Durham Education, which has 114 theses listed. The accounts are not affiliated to or endorsed by the University, who are in the process of addressing the issue with Amazon.

Other institutions including Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University and Strathclyde University have also been affected under another account named Surrey Community Thinkers Series. This account lists over 1,900 theses for sale from these institutes and possibly others.

The accounts have used Durham University branding to sell the theses, however, the University has not consented to their sale.

Palatinate understands that Durham University was made aware of theses being sold online in November after they began appearing on Amazon in October 2020, but the students affected were not notified.

In a tweet, the University said: “We are aware of an issue of theses being listed for sale online. We have been filing Take Down Notices to Amazon & will continue to do so. We’ll be writing to staff & students with more information. If you have been affected you can contact our Legal Services team.” An email subsequently sent to all students on behalf of the Head of Legal Services for Durham University asked students to “please check Amazon to see if they can identify any publications they have authored which may exist on the site, and for which you have granted no external permission”.

Students affected have been asked to complete a form, which can be found here.

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This article has since been updated. A previous version of the article listed “Critical Thinkers Series, Surrey” as the account name. It has been changed to “Surrey Community Thinkers Series”.

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