Addressing the Piracy Problem: ECPA Member Opportunity to Join Groundswell of Action Against Infringers

By Craig Gipson

Every publisher knows about the problem: the never-ending whack-a-mole game played against mass-piracy sites. Publishers remove one site only to have another take its place. But the tides against these large scale-infringers may slowly be turning. A recent series of actions taken by publishers, authors, and the government show that concerted action can be effective.

Christian publishers may join these other efforts against a site which specifically makes pirated versions of Christian books available: As the last ECPA Member Brief noted, a Florida pastor distributed hundreds or thousands of unauthorized PDF versions for the purpose of a “low cost” theological education. Several ECPA members delivered DMCA takedown notices that received no response. After ECPA initially contacted the pastor, a notice appeared on the homepage that “resources from this website are no longer available to the public.” However, links to a select number of books in PDF format remain and much of the site is only accessible by password, meaning the extent of ongoing infringement is unknown.

Proposed Action

For those ECPA members interested in taking action against, there is a multi-phase process available. Flagler Law Group has offered to investigate the site and contact its operator, describing the legal consequences that will follow if the infringement continues. In prior anti-piracy efforts headed by ECPA, such as the Nigeria piracy situation and the site, this phase of communications achieved favorable results. As in those efforts, a consortium of publishers would divide the legal fees of the effort to manage costs. A second step within this initial phase would be Flagler Law Group contacting the web hosting provider and attempting to have the site removed.

If further action is necessary, the participating publishers could collectively engage litigation counsel in Florida to pursue an infringement claim against the operator of the site. This second phase would likely involve significantly more cost, such that the participating publishers could evaluate after phase one whether legal action is worth pursuing.

Collective Action
In the absence of better legislation, consortiums of stakeholders have become an increasingly popular way to address piracy. Best-selling authors John Grisham and Scott Turow joined 10 other authors, Amazon Publishing, and Penguin Random House in a successful lawsuit against notorious pirate Kiss Library. [1] In October, the Authors Guild and several of its members petitioned the U.S. Trade Representative to take action against online pirates, including Library Genesis shadow libraries like Z-library. [2] And just this month, the FBI seized the Z-Library domain [3] and arrested and indicted its two principals. [4] For those publishers interested in participating in the action against, or seeking more information, please contact on or before December 2.

[2] Download: USTR – Notorious Market Comments -2022[92]

This article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. This article was first published as an ECPA Legal Update.