Publishers claim file sharing sites are hosting pirated ebooks

An international coalition of book publishers that includes members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has taken legal action against www.library.nu and www.ifile.it.  The two file sharing sites were served court orders in Ireland alleging that the sites are hosting pirated ebooks and making them available for free.

The two sites were essentially shut down as a result of the court orders.  As of today, www.library.nu redirects to Google Books and www.ifile.it has a message saying that it is no longer accepting uploads.

The AAP issued a press release yesterday detailing the incredible efforts that the publishers had to go through to be able to take legal action against the file sharing sites.  The entire process involved an investigation firm and took over seven months and spanned seven countries.

The publishers claim that www.library.nu acquired over 400,000 pirated ebooks and posed as a legitimate internet library that offered free ebook downloads.  The sites made money primarily off of advertising with an estimated revenue of $10.6 million per year.  The file sharing sites also offered premium accounts with faster download speeds.  The sites also allowed users to support the “internet library” by making a donation through PayPal.

Amazingly, the online response is overwhelmingly sad at the loss of www.library.nu and www.ifile.it.  Comments posted at reddit include phrases like “heartbreaking”, “so sad”, “all good things come to an end”, and “disgusting” along with a lot more expletive loaded statements aimed at the publishers.

It looks like most of the ebooks hosted by the file sharing sites were educational titles.  If you read through the online comments you can clearly see that a lot of users of www.library.nu are upset that they will no longer have access to free textbooks.

The book publishers have definitely scored a victory against a large ebook piracy site, but they should consider the numerous responses from the users of their ebooks.  Publishers might want to take a look at their textbooks and consider adjusting the prices to account for a drastic change in the marketplace due to the proliferation of ebooks.

Apple launched etextbooks for iPad last month that allows publishers and independent authors to create their own etextbooks.  They are hoping that this will drastically reduce the price of textbooks.  Of course, they are also hoping that they will get a piece of the large revenue pie that is spent on textbooks each year too.

Piracy is a very tricky issue.  It’s kind of like speeding on the freeway.  It’s definitely illegal, but a lot of people do it.  The only way for book publishers to completely wipe out piracy is to make their products available conveniently and priced fairly enough that makes pirating them not worth it.

One way book publishers could wipe out the majority of ebook piracy is if they made their ebooks available at public libraries.  If people could download a legal copy of an ebook for free from a real library, they wouldn’t need to go download a pirated copy from a file sharing site pretending to be an “internet library”.

Comments

  1. Guest111 says

    I agree with everything in this article but I have some reservations about the last sentence. I cannot see how having free legal ebooks in a real library would satisfy the publishers. On the other hand, charging a very small amount (maybe $0.50 per downoad or $20 per year) would not discourage the users and would still geive a profit to the publishers and the authors because of the large number of people who use this service.

  2. M. says

    As a life-long and enthusiastic user of public libraries in several countries, I can only back the incentive to bring them back in the center of every student’s and reader’s supply chain, where they have been for so long and where they belong. However, as already stated in the text, most of the books available at library.nu were (university) textbooks in english, french and german languages, which are both expensive (thanks to the oligopolic position of the printed media distributors) and virtually unobtainable (even for public libraries) in the better part of the world. Being so, these crusaders for fees obviously consider quality higher education and the hunger for knowledge that fuels it to be exclusive prerogatives of afluent residents in the “developed countries”. How should a student who wants to keep up with scientific publications afford to pursue them if (s)he is living off 50 Dollars a month (the price of one textbook in the West)? There are only so much scholarships to go studying abroad. All they have is perhaps access to an internet-caffe with a printer in the corner. It would be interesting what the “victorious” ladies and gentlemen publishers would have to say on that question… That would perhaps shed some light on the true motives of their activities, other than the proclaimed aim of catering to science and education.
    But good for them, scoring another “victory” against the root of all evil…

  3. amanuel asmelash says

    saddened by the move. i am from a developng country in africa. i was getting help from this site. that was the only means for me. it is almost impossible for me to get a textbook for my university teaching other than this site. i can’t see any victory for the publishers making many poor students hopeless of getting a book.