Last August I wrote about the sort of garbage fake books you can buy from Amazon if you don’t pay attention, or even if you do in many instances. Change, we hope, is on the way.

PublishersLunch of 24 June informs us:

It’s been well documented the extent to which Amazon is filled with fake, illegitimate and counterfeit editions of books as well as other merchandise. (Last year, a WSJ investigation wrote, “In practice, Amazon has increasingly evolved like a flea market. It exercises limited oversight over items listed by millions of third-party sellers, many of them anonymous, many in China, some offering scant information.”) While regularly telling people what a great job they do — as well as blaming the limitations of software, or the publishing ecosystem for not having a universal catalog of every right for every book around the world — the company has conceded more work is needed.

A press release announces the creation of a Counterfeit Crimes Unit that “will investigate cases where a bad actor has attempted to evade Amazon’s systems and listed a counterfeit in violation of Amazon’s policies.” The process still sounds data focused — the unit “will mine Amazon’s data, cull information from external resources such as payment service providers and open source intelligence, and leverage on-the-ground assets to connect the dots between targets.” It will also help the company “more effectively pursue civil litigation against bad actors, work with brands in joint or independent investigations, and aid law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters.”

CNBC provides the detail that the CCU team will be “made up of former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts”. One just hopes there’ll be enough of them to cope with the problem. I guess these internet companies can feel the tide turning on our hands-off treatment of big online companies. Google has removed the injunction “Do no evil” from its code of conduct, which doesn’t of course mean we have to look out for evil from that quarter, but does suggest that the early optimistic idealism has seeped away. Regulation looms for all these big guys, and beating the starting gun with some self-regulation of your own is obviously a good ploy.