Censorship or Copyright Violations
by Deanna Spingola
April 5, 2016


The advertisement for the book, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, It Was a FEMA Drill to Promote Gun Control, edited by James Fetzer and Mike Palecek, claims, “The book is copiously documented with photographs, records, and other proofs that make it so detailed, so thorough, and so compelling, that the U.S. government has had to resort to extreme measures to suppress it, including having it banned by Amazon.com.” Is it “documented” or fabricated? Did Amazon really ban or “censor” the book because of its theoretical contents or were there some other significant, even legal, issues?


Moon Rock Books, owned by Mike Palecek, published the book through CreateSpace, an Amazon company. On its web site, CreateSpace states, “Through our services, you can sell books, CDs, and DVDs for a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing, while maintaining more control over your materials. We make it simple to distribute your books, music, and video through Internet retail outlets, your own website, and other bookstores, retailers, libraries, and academic institutions…” In 2009, CreateSpace became “the publishing and manufacturing on-demand leader for independent content creators, publishers, film studios, and music labels.” [1]


Numerous publishing companies, through a “member agreement,” use CreateSpace, an Amazon company, to facilitate the actual book publication and distribution. The companies that use CreateSpace, such as Progressive Press, Trafford Publishing, Moon Rock Books and others are completely accountable for the content of the books they submit to CreateSpace. It is their responsibility to scrutinize any and all images for possible copyright violations. CreateSpace expects ethical behavior from those who sign the member agreement.


CreateSpace Copyright Guidelines state, “Our member agreement requires that you own or have obtained all rights to any content you deliver to us. Please do not send us any content for which you do not own or have not obtained all rights. Our member agreement allows us to reject or remove content from our service, and we have rejected past submissions for rights issues. If you are unsure if you own the rights to the materials you wish to submit to CreateSpace, please consult an attorney. To learn more about Copyrights, you may find it helpful to visit the United States Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov Please refer to our Content Guidelines for further details on content that is acceptable for our services.”


I published four books through Trafford which uses CreateSpace. Between the publication of my second and third books, Trafford and an author were sued for copyright violations. Thereafter, Trafford amended its policies and became even more vigilant about the images that their authors were submitting. Prior to that, I had to furnish the source of any image that I used within the books. There were two images on the front cover of my third book that were an issue. Before the publication of my third book, on May 27, 2014, a Trafford Publishing Services Associate contacted me about three of the front cover images. The images were of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill. Trafford needed me to provide proper attribution for the Roosevelt image. They also ascertained that the Stalin and the Churchill images were not in the public domain (PD). This article is a comprehensive description of what constitutes the PD.


The Trafford associate wrote, “Please be informed that we are conducting content evaluation to make sure that the book would pass industry standard for copyright infringement and content acceptability. By the way, we started this process the 4th quarter of 2013. Our evaluator is asking for the sources of the images on the cover. If your designer can provide us the link, that would be great.” David Dees had designed the cover months before and was unable to provide links to the Internet images. He had to alter the front cover to accommodate copyright policies.

Moon Rock Books, a CreateSpace member, published the book, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook which then appeared on Amazon’s retail site. Moon Rock Books is now retailing the book at its site for $20 or $30 (autographed by Fetzer). Obviously, CreateSpace no longer associates with Moon Rock Books which now publishes through Ingram Spark, whose policies are evidently much more lenient. CreateSpace notified Mike Palecek, the publisher, about the copyright violations.

The very small image of the notification, posted on Fetzer’s site, refers the recipients of such a notice to https://www.createspace.com/Help/Rights/ContentGuidelines.jsp which states:

Items that Infringe Upon an Individual's Privacy:

“CreateSpace holds personal privacy in the highest regard. Therefore, items that infringe upon, or have potential to infringe upon, an individual's privacy are prohibited.” [2]

Recopied Media

“Copies, dubs, duplicates, or transfers of music, videos, software, images, etc., are prohibited. Just as you cannot sell a photocopied book without the author's permission, you cannot sell copies or duplicates of videos, music, video games, software, photos, etc.” [3]


Public Domain and Other Non-Exclusive Content

“We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale through CreateSpace. We do accept public domain content, however we may request that you provide proof that your submitted material is actually in the public domain…” [4]


This is the issue that Trafford (my publisher) had with the three images on the cover of my third book. There is a huge difference between the editorial use of an image and the commercial use of an image. One may use images (editorially) in a newspaper or magazine article, on a blog or website for descriptive purposes or in a non-commercial presentation. Publishing a book is a commercial enterprise. It is customary and ethically appropriate for bloggers or others to give attribution and a link when using other people’s images or that are on another person’s web site.


As mentioned, Fetzer published the notice on his web site on November 20, 2015 but dismisses the notification as a “cover story.” He said, “The notification was intended to provide plausible deniability about an egregious act of censorship…” He claimed, “Create Space and amazon.com review every submission for its suitability for publication and conformity to their guidelines before they are accepted for publication.” That is NOT true according the CreateSpace policies cited above. It is up to the publisher, Moon Rock Books, according to its “member agreement” to review the book’s contents, especially for possible copyright violations.

Fetzer appeared on numerous radio programs, including Mike Adams of Natural News  on November 23, 2015. He said the following, “Amazon gave me no reason,” he said, “The situation is completely absurd... if you disagree with a government version of anything, Amazon can pull your book.” However, CreateSpace did notify Palecek and Fetzer. Although it is just a matter of semantics, Amazon does not have the power nor did Amazon “ban” the book, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook. Amazon was obligated to remove the book from its web site based on copyright violations although Amazon does retail Fetzer’s other anti-government books. Amazon states, “Amazon respects the intellectual property of others. If you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please follow our Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement.” [5] Certainly, not everyone who uses a copyrighted image in a commercial venture is going to get sued. However, Amazon will respond appropriately to those who complain that a publisher has illegally used images for which they own the copyright. 


Additionally, Amazon states to anyone who wishes to use their publishing subsidiary, “You represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content that you post; that the content is accurate; that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity; and that you will indemnify Amazon for all claims resulting from content you supply. Amazon has the right but not the obligation to monitor and edit or remove any activity or content. Amazon takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any content posted by you or any third party.” [6]


Just as an example, the image on page 81 of Fetzer’s book is a copyrighted image taken by Michelle Mcloughlin of Reuters/Corbis on November 13, 2013. This image is available for editorial use but pre-approval if required for all other uses. On pages 75 and 76 of Fetzer’s book, he shows evacuation photos taken by Shannon Hicks and claims that these photos were staged, implying that Hicks was part of some deceptive operation which is slander. In his prologue, Fetzer categorically states, “We not only know that Shannon Hicks was ‘in on the game’ by taking these photos (as early as in October) in preparation for this elaborate charade but we also know that there was no evacuation.” [7]


According to Russell Stookey, a lawyer in Blairsville, Georgia, many of the claims in the book constitute both slander and libel. Stookey said, “Slander is oral and usually confined to very specific things, such as to impugn non-chastity to a woman or to attribute someone to a crime of moral turpitude—very specific things. Libel is broader. It’s written or permanently affixed defamation that’s passed on to a third party (someone other than whom the charge is made) or published for the whole world to see. One of the ways to be found guilty of the tort of libel defamation is to impugn the integrity of a person or lower their reputation in the esteem of the public.” [8]


Fetzer even claims that one of the parents in the photo was Hicks. This parent was later shown re-uniting with her two children at the firehouse. The two photos of children evacuating the school with the help of Connecticut State Police Detective Rachael VanNess show completely different groups of children. I can almost guarantee that Shannon Hicks or The Newtown Bee, the newspaper that she works for, did not give Moon Rock Books or Fetzer permission to use these photos in his commercial enterprise. What about the children in the photos? Did Moon Rock Books have permission to use the images on pages 82-83 showing the children that sang at the Super Bowl or the image of Olivia Engel? Did Veronique and Lenny Pozner or the Jewish Daily Forward give Moon Rock Books permission to use the photo of Noah Pozner on page 62 or the image on page 186, a photo of Veronique Pozner with the twins, Noah and Arielle, shortly after their birth? Did Moon Rock Books, for Fetzer’s commercial enterprise, get permission from CNN or Fox News? Moon Rock Books blatantly even used copyrighted images on the front and back covers (designed by Ole Dammegård).


Appendix D consists of a reprint of an article, Murder and Homicide Rates Before and After Gun Bans by John Lott from his web site, Crime Prevention Research Center. Shill Murray, a brilliant researcher has revealed dozens and dozens of deceptions in Fetzer’s book “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.” In his usual astute attention to every detail and his penchant for follow-up, Murray wrote the following to John Lott, “I noticed that you are credited as being a contributor to the book “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook by conspiracy theorist James Fetzer. Your contribution seems to be nothing more than one of the blog entries, copied verbatim. Was this something you explicitly agreed to, knowing the subject matter of the book? Thanks.” Murray did not have to wait long for a response. Within fifteen minutes, Lott replied, “I have nothing to do with this nut. He didn’t ask permission to use my material. Do you know how to contact him? Thank you.” [9]


It is unfortunate that many so-called alternative radio programs had Fetzer as a guest where he repeatedly played the victim card and claimed censorship when in fact; he and the publisher Moon Rock Books were totally non-compliant with industry and ethical standards. Why is it that the hoaxers typically portray themselves as victims? Did Fetzer and Palecek deliberately violate copyright laws anticipating that Amazon would be obliged to withdraw the book from its web site? Certainly, they must have realized that there would be complaints over copyright issues and the blatant exploitation of other people’s intellectual property. After all, this book was not the first that either of them had published. Does Fetzer rely upon the fact that people typically remember and believe the very first statements they hear about any particular incident. It is called framing the debate, the very same tactic some of the very same people used within six weeks of the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many people will not delve further into the matter or use any critical thinking but will actually believe that Amazon banned the book, not because of dozens of obvious copyright violations, but because Fetzer has consistently claimed that the book was just too revealing. Therefore, the government, in cahoots with Amazon, had to conceal it contents.   


[1] About CreateSpace, https://www.createspace.com/AboutUs.jsp, last viewed 3/13/2016

[2] Content Guidelines, https://www.createspace.com/Help/Rights/ContentGuidelines.jsp, last viewed 3/13/2016

[3] Content Guidelines, https://www.createspace.com/Help/Rights/ContentGuidelines.jsp, last viewed 3/13/2016

[4] Content Guidelines, https://www.createspace.com/Help/Rights/ContentGuidelines.jsp, last viewed 3/13/2016

[5] Conditions of Use, http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0&nodeId=508088, last viewed 3/13/2016

[6] Conditions of Use, http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0&nodeId=508088, last viewed 3/13/2016

[7] James Fetzer, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, It Was a FEMA Drill to Promote Gun Control, Moon Rock Books, 2015, p. 11

[8] Keith Johnson, Stopping the Sandy Hook Stalkers, 5/22/2014, http://sandyhookstalkers.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/to-stop-a-sandy-hook-stalker/ last viewed 3/28/2016 

[9] Fact Checking, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, Appendix D, by John Lott, http://www.crisisactorsguild.com/2016/04/27/fact-checking-nobody-died-at-sandy-hook-appendix-d/#more-690, last viewed 5/3/2016