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”.