Grisham, Child, Amazon, PRH Headline Lawsuit of KISS Library for Piracy

From Publishers Weekly:

Twelve of the Authors Guild’s biggest names are serving as marquee plaintiffs on a new court action filed Tuesday (July 7) along with Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House in Seattle at the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. The complaint names Kiss Library as a “book piracy entity” and asks that “its operators be enjoined from illegally copying, distributing, and selling works written or published by the plaintiffs.”

Plaintiffs from the Authors Guild include its president, Doug Preston, and members and board members Lee Child, Sylvia Day, John Grisham, CJ Lyons, Jim Rasenberger, TJ Stiles, RL Stine, Monique Truong, Scott Turow, Nicholas Weinstock, and Stuart Woods.

The problem this legal action is meant to address is easy to find. On Reddit, a user writes, “I found a site called ‘KISS Library’ selling one of my ebooks that I had uploaded to Amazon. However, they are selling it for more than Amazon, and they are selling it in EPUB and PDF. Is this site somehow partnering with Amazon, or is this book piracy? Has anyone heard of this site?”

As that message from a year ago indicates, many authors have heard of the site and have been struggling to deal with what is widely seen by writers as a relentless piracy mill.

In its media messaging today, the Guild writes that KISS Library–doing business as Kissly.net, Libly.net, Cheap-Library.com and other domain names–”is a pirate online bookstore based in Ukraine.”

The outfit, according to the Guild’s staff, illegally sells pirated ebooks at discounted prices to unsuspecting American consumers. “The defendants dress their sites up to make them look like sophisticated, legitimate sites,” the Guild reports, “intentionally deceiving consumers who are unaware that authors, publishers and legitimate booksellers are being denied their legal share of the sales price.”

Clearly, one of the most interesting elements of this effort at litigation is that Amazon Publishing is working in concert with the United States’ premiere author-advocacy organization, the Guild, and the largest of the Big Five publishers, Penguin Random House. While the retail powerhouse is not always spoken of by many in publishing with fondness, this is a moment in which a common enemy, piracy, has brought together authors, big book business, and the biggest of sales points.

In a statement issued by an Amazon spokesperson to Publishing Perspectives, we read, “Combatting piracy requires collaboration across the industry and Amazon Publishing is glad to join together with Penguin Random House and members of the Authors Guild in this suit against book piracy entity KISS Library.

“We are committed to holding bad actors accountable.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG says three cheers! Make that 153 cheers!

PG thinks bringing back the days of chaining prisoners in their cells and recruiting rats to run around on the floor is an appropriate punishment for book pirates.

He does draw the line at beheading, however.

Except for repeat offenders.

Authors, Publishers Condemn The ‘National Emergency Library’ As ‘Piracy’

From National Public Radio:

Last week, when the Internet Archive announced its “National Emergency Library,” expanding access to more than a million digitized works, the group explained the move as a goodwill gesture in the time of coronavirus.

With so many brick-and-mortar libraries forced to close their doors, in other words, the group was opening up its lending program: Now, instead of its usual policy of just one digital copy per reader for a 14-day period, many frustrated readers could borrow copies of the same book during the same time — and could do so through the end of June or the end of the global pandemic, whichever came sooner.

But there’s one major issue that several media outlets, including NPR, failed to mention in covering the decision: Many writers and publishers say the website, even before the creation of this National Emergency Library, has been sharing full digital copies of their books without their permission.

“With mean writing incomes of only $20,300 a year prior to the crisis, authors, like others, are now struggling all the more — from cancelled book tours and loss of freelance work, income supplementing jobs, and speaking engagements,” the Authors Guild, a professional group that provides legal assistance to writers, said in a statement released Friday.

“And now they are supposed to swallow this new pill, which robs them of their rights to introduce their books to digital formats as many hundreds of midlist authors do when their books go out of print, and which all but guarantees that author incomes and publisher revenues will decline even further.”

The guild said that last year alone it sent the organization hundreds of takedown notices on behalf of the writers it represents, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The 1998 law lays a framework for preventing users from creating digital copies of copyrighted material and circulating it without the copyright holder’s permission.

“Acting as a piracy site — of which there already are too many — the Internet Archive tramples on authors’ rights by giving away their books to the world,” the guild added.

The Science Fiction Writers of America has previously objected to the Internet Archive’s “infringement.” And the Association of American Publishers, in a statement of its own Friday, condemned the move as “a cynical play to undermine copyright, and all the scientific, creative, and economic opportunity that it supports.”

Link to the rest at National Public Radio

The OP says that The Internet Archive does seem to respond to DMCA Takedown Notices.

Italian Book and Newspaper Publishers Reveal Scale of Piracy

From Publishing Perspectives:

As Much as 23 Percent of the Market Impacted

Calling for a government intervention, the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) and the Federation of Italian Newspaper Publishers (Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali, FIEG) have presented results of newly commissioned study on the impact of piracy in the Italian market.

. . . .

“This data reveals the need for the imposition of strong law enforcement and the education of users who are not always fully aware of the effects of their behavior.”

AIE and FIEG are reporting an annual loss of some €528 million (US$585 million) to the books industry and an aggregate of €1.3 billion when news publishing is added in, accounting for as much as 23 percent of the market, exclusive of exports and educational content.

. . . .

Some of the most interesting revelations in the report have to do with who the researchers can identify are the pirati, the pirates.

As is often the case–and a part of what makes combatting the problem so difficult–the culprits are everyday users, many of them unaware of how damaging their fondness for free or cheap content can be.

Some 36 percent of users–more than one in three Italians older than 15, the researchers found–carried out at least one act of piracy with a work of published content in the last year.

  • One in four users are estimated to have downloaded an illegal ebook or audiobook free of charge at least once
  • Seventeen percent of those surveyed said they’ve received at least one ebook from a friend or family member
  • Eight percent said they’d been given at least one photocopied book by a friend or acquaintance
  • Seven percent of respondents said they’d bought at least one photocopied book in the last year

In the university setting, the issue is more dramatic, with some 80 percent of university students committing at least one act of piracy–involving either physical or digital content–in the last year. And 81 percent of professional respondents–including attorneys, notaries, accountants, engineers, and architects–said they’d committed at least on act of piracy in the past year.

Speaking in the morning’s session for the research effort, however, IPSOS president Nando Pagnoncelli said the general public, for the most part is not unaware that piracy is illegal.

Some 84 percent of those older than 15 told researchers this, he said. But 66 percent said that piracy is unlikely to be discovered and punished by authorities, and 39 percent said that they don’t consider piracy to be serious enough to prosecute.

. . . .

And he also made the point, frequently heard now in piracy discussions, that ensuring easy legitimate access to content is important, the “abundance over scarcity” context in which it’s believed that piracy is less attractive because users don’t have to resort to illicit means to attain content they want.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Small Claims Copyright ‘CASE Act’ Passes US House of Representatives

From Publishing Perspectives:

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released a statement late today (October 22), applauding the US House of Representatives resounding passage of the CASE Act, as it’s known, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement act.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, this is the legislation that, in the language of the Copyright Alliance, “creates a voluntary small claims board within the US Copyright Office that will provide copyright owners with an alternative to the expensive process of bringing copyright claims, including infringement and misrepresentation under 512(f), in federal court.

“This new board, called the Copyright Claims Board (CCB), would allow recovery in each case of up to US$30,000 in damages total, with a cap of US$15,000 in statutory damages per work infringed.”

. . . .

In its statement, the AAP cheers the CASE Act on, writing, “Going into the Senate, the CASE Act enjoys an impressive range of support from major organizations on all sides of the political spectrum, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the American Conservative Union, the American Bar Association, among many others.

. . . .

The Washington-based Copyright Alliance—an advocacy nonprofit for the promotion and preservation of the value of copyright—has also issued a statement today, hailing the House’s vote.

In that statement, the alliance’s CEO, Keith Kupferschmid, points out that there have been critics of the CASE Act, notably the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this bill would re-ignite the nationwide problem of copyright trolling, just as the federal courts are beginning to address this abusive practice.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Malware Crosses the Streams

From Copyright Alliance:

Illicit streaming devices make accessing pirated works easy and convenient. But do they also make it easier for hackers to access your devices and sensitive information?

In recent years, a number of companies have entered the streaming device market to allow consumers to access content from their favorite streaming and online services on their home entertainment systems and other devices—think Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, and Google’s Chromecast. Along with these, a host of third-party set top box manufacturers and app developers have emerged around the Kodi ecosystem. Kodi itself is a noninfringing, open source media player. But because of its openness, it has been used as a platform for pirates, who either develop apps that provide access to infringing content or distribute “fully loaded” set top boxes that come preloaded with illegitimate apps. A recent Sandvine study found that almost 10% of homes in North America use one of these devices.

By using these devices to pirate creative works, consumers are undermining the ability of creators to earn a livelihood and the ability of entrepreneurs and companies to continue to invest in the creation of the types of works that make these devices so attractive in the first place. But new research shows that these devices may also expose consumers to immediate harm: malware.

In Fishing in the Piracy Stream: How the Dark Web of Entertainment is Exposing Consumers to Harm, Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), working with researchers at Dark Wolfe, found that illicit streaming devices expose consumers to a much higher risk of malware. The research builds off an earlier report from DCA, Digital Bait, which detailed the relationship between pirate site operators and malware vendors. That report described how pirated works act as an attractive draw for malware vendors, and found that 1 in 3 pirate websites expose consumers to malware.

Since that report, consumers have increasingly shifted toward streaming—and the use of streaming devices. And so, DCA wanted to see if malware has also followed this shift. DCA partnered with Dark Wolfe to study the ten most popular piracy apps in this ecosystem over the course of six weeks.

They found that it had. And because the devices are hooked up to a home network, users have essentially “escorted” malware distributors past their network security. As the report notes, “The malware looks for a pathway to any connected device, putting an entire home network at risk. Expanding the infection vectors (the pathways from an attacker’s computer into connected devices on a user’s network – such as a child’s tablet, a newer refrigerator or a computer) increases the likelihood of data theft.”

Link to the rest at Copyright Alliance

Piracy down, legal sales up

From The IP Kat:

The percentage of internet users in Europe that occasionally download or stream content illegally has decreased between 2014 and 2017. The decrease occurs for music, films/series and books. For games, the pattern is mixed. Meanwhile, expenditure on legal content has increased in most countries. This follows from the Global Online Piracy Study conducted by the Institute for Information Law (IViR) together with Ecorys.

. . . .

The research team conducted consumer surveys among nearly 35,000 respondents, including over 7,000 minors, in13 countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand. The survey deals with the acquisition and consumption of music, films, series, books andgames through legal and illegal channels. Illegal channels studied are downloading and streaming from illegal sources (including via dedicated technical devices), and streamrippingComparative legal research was performed on the basis of questionnaires on the legal status of online copyright infringement and enforcement, completed by legal experts in the 13 countries.

. . . .

Despite some legal uncertainty, the majority of acts studied are qualified as direct copyright infringement by users or give rise to liability for intermediaries. Moreover, ISPs are often subject to injunctions and duties of care even when they benefit from safe harbours. On the whole, copyright holders have a vast arsenal of legal enforcement measures to deploy against end users and ISPs. There is a trend in many countries toward copyright enforcement through civil or administrative measures aimed at blocking websites that provide access to infringing content. Notices to infringers and to platforms hosting or linking to infringing content with the aim of removing/blocking such content are likewise regularly used, the latter in the context of notice-and-takedown systems. Criminal measures are less popular.
Still, despite the abundance of enforcement measures, their perceived effectiveness is uncertain. Therefore, it is questionable whether the answer to successfully tackling online copyright infringement lies in additional rights or enforcement measures, especially if these will not lead to additional revenue for copyright holders and risk coming into conflict with fundamental rights of users and intermediaries. Instead, it might be sensible to search for the answer to piracy in the provision of affordable and convenient legal access to copyright-protected content.

Link to the rest at The IP Kat

E-book Watermarking

From Copyright and Technology:

There’s been lots and lots of talk about DRM for e-books over the years. Lots of controversy, debates, diatribes, conference panels, etc. Watermarking? Not so much. That’s despite the fact that e-book watermarking has been in use for much longer than most people realize, and that it has recently become very popular in certain geographies, such as much of Europe. The dramatic imbalance of information about DRM and watermarking — especially in the U.S. — is not doing the publishing industry any favors in properly evaluating content protection options.

. . . .

Watermarking is a technique for embedding information in e-book files — typically information about the purchaser of the e-book and/or the place where it was purchased. Technical publishers such as O’Reilly and Springer have been inserting purchasers’ email addresses on every page of their PDF e-books for many years. More recently, e-book distributors such as Pottermore (the distributor of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter e-books) have been embedding user or transaction IDs that are known to the distributor but not meaningful to the public.

Back in 2007, Bill McCoy — then General Manager of the e-book business at Adobe, now head of publishing at W3C — advocated a watermarking-style solution to replace DRM, which he called “social DRM.” He was referring to the idea that if your name or email address is embedded in a document, you’re less likely to “overshare” it. The term “social DRM” stuck; it also led some industry writers to refer to watermarking as a type of DRM and even to use the incorrect term “watermark DRM.”

Watermarking is not DRM. This is especially the case if you accept the definition of DRM that the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Software Foundation, and others use, “Digital Restrictions Management.” Watermarked e-books have no restrictions on their use in e-readers, and retailers can’t use them to construct the kinds of walled gardens that some of them have with DRM. Any e-reader that can read the e-book’s format (PDF, EPUB, KF8, etc.) can read a watermarked e-book.

Watermarking also does not apply to the same set of distribution models as DRM does. Watermarking generally applies to retail sales, as well as certain special situations such as pre-release distribution of review copies; it isn’t used (by itself) with models such as subscriptions and library e-book lending.

Nevertheless, a growing number of e-book distributors are now using watermarking instead of DRM. As the white paper explains, this is especially true in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and many Central and Eastern European countries. Watermarking techniques have evolved so that they are not as easy to remove from e-book files as they used to be; today’s watermarking providers use multiple redundant techniques, so that someone who tries to strip a file of watermarks can’t be sure that all of the watermarks are gone.

The lack of popularity of watermarking in the North American e-book market stems from a combination of factors. Major e-book retailers aren’t motivated to give up their DRMs because doing so would diminish their walled gardens, and publishers aren’t insisting on it in their negotiations with those retailers. But just as importantly, there’s a general lack of awareness of watermarking compared to that of DRM, particularly among authors and agents who can specify it in contracts with publishers. While more research is needed to discover the relative benefits of DRM and watermarking in curbing infringement, this is a logjam that ought to be broken.

Link to the rest at Copyright and Technology

The OP contains a link to the source of a white paper about watermarking ebooks.

People who Pirate eBooks Do Not Buy Them

From Good Ereader:

There are millions of pirated ebooks online and many publishers have begun to go after the pirates and either shut them down or block access to websites via an ISP. New research suggests that this might be futile, removing ebooks online does not influence sales. That is it say, pirates are not suddenly buying the book from an online retailer such as Amazon or Kobo.

Three researchers from Poland’s University of Warsaw conducted an analysis that covered some 240 books  in the Polish market in 2016, with a range of genres represented by titles published by 10 companies that agreed to take part in the program.

“We signed an agreement with a professional agency that deals with such research activities,” Krawczyk told Ludwika Tomala from Poland’s news agency PAP. The agency removed pirated copies of some 120 books” from the Internet, Krawczyk said to Tomala. “Whether pirated copies were easy or difficult to obtain turned out not to have an actual impact on the sales of a given book.”

“While most of the publishers suspected a negative impact of piracy on legal sales,” the researchers wrote, “we find no evidence of a significant shift in sales because of pirated copies being available online.”

. . . .

It is estimated that pirated content costs the publishing industry over $315 million dollars in 2016.

Link to the rest at Good Ereader

Australia Blocks Dozens of Pirate eBook Websites

From GoodEReader:

Authorities in Australia have ordered internet service providers to block over 50 different piracy websites. These companies have 15 days to comply and it will be a blow to people who are downloading digital comics, ebooks, magazines and newspapers for free.

Graham Burke, Village Roadshow’s co-CEO and the head honcho of anti-piracy group Creative Content Australia (previously known as the IP Awareness Foundation), said: “This is a historic moment for Australia to have what is effectively 95% of the criminal trade blocked. The thieves who run pirate sites contribute nothing to Australia — they employ no one and pay no taxes here. Of the enormous profits they earn, not one cent goes back to the original creators of the content.”tent.”

. . . .

Earlier in the year a new study was published that looked into the type of people who pirated books the most. The study suggests that people aged between 30 and 44 years old with a household income of between $60k and $99k are most likely to grab a book without paying for it. Overall, the majority of illegal downloaders are relatively well-educated, with more than 70% having either graduated from college or in possession of a post graduate degree.

Link to the rest at GoodEReader