AAP Takes Down Digital Book Piracy Websites

The Association of American Publishers announced yesterday that they have successfully taken two websites offline that were freely distributing copyrighted e-books. One of these sites, library.nu, was said to contain more than 400,000 protected digital works.

PaidContent.org has a post up describing how publishers are banding together to fight against book piracy, similar to the battles the RIA has fought over the past decade. The piece also correctly notes how this takedown was conducted without any new legislative powers, such as those in the failed US SOPA bill.

But perhaps the best read of the bunch (at least for me) came at the end of the AAP release, where the Association summarized the background and challenges behind the chase. The number one challenge? Actually identifying who owned the websites and tracing their physical whereabouts, summarized here:

“Neither website contained any form of legal notice with information as to the operators’ identities. The WHOIS entries on the domain holders were partially modified several times. In some cases, fake company names without registration were used. In other cases, the registered offices of well-known Irish banks or names of people were used, although it was highly unlikely that these individuals or entities had any relationship with the operators of the platforms.

E-mails to the domains were answered with the intent to mislead prosecutors; when replies were secured, these came with varying contradicting responses, without any contact information and under pseudonyms. The services’ top level domains led to Italy and the southern Pacific coral island of Niue. The servers were initially based in Germany, then relocated to the Ukraine. Additionally, the operators used very sophisticated technical systems which immediately detected and repelled higher access rates to the platforms from outside. The necessary securing of evidence – during which software which had been specifically developed by IT specialists for this purpose was used for the documentation of the infringements – was significantly impeded by this technical blocking.”

Another notable difference between this and other online copyright enforcement situations is the fact that the website operators are being accused directly, rather than simply routing blame to the website’s user base. See:

“One positive outcome from this complicated process is that the platform operators themselves are now being held responsible as perpetrators for the copyright infringements on their sites and will therefore not merely be liable for the illegal conduct of their users. All four copyright chambers at the LG of Munich who dealt with this issue and who promptly issued the 17 interim injunctions were in agreement on this matter.”

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