An Important Win Against Internet Piracy
Hoboken, N.J., February 15, 2012 — In a concerted action, a global group of publishers and publishers' associations (of which Wiley was a part) achieved an important success in the fight against copyright piracy on the Internet. Overcoming significant technical and legal obstacles, the publishers were able to locate the alleged operators of two high-traffic rogue Web sites, the sharehoster service, www.ifile.it, and the link library, www.library.nu, and to serve judicial cease-and-desist orders to them. These sites have now shut down.
"This action reflects our commitment to protecting secure, safe, and legitimate use of the Internet," said Stephen M. Smith, President and CEO of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. "It is also evidence of the growing strength of the international community of content creators and providers taking all available legal measures against large illegal platforms" he explained.
The two illicit sites were directly linked to one another to constitute a highly trafficked "internet library" that makes available more than 400,000 high-quality eBooks for immediate, free and anonymous download, without the permission of, and without providing compensation to, the authors and copyright owners. As one of the world's most significant rogue Web sites, its operators made an estimated turnover of €8 million (nearly U.S. $11 million) in revenue from selling advertising and premium-level accounts and from donations.
"The global publishing industry has once again shown that it can and will stand up against large-scale organised copyright crime," says Jens Bammel, Secretary General of the International Publishers Association. "We will not tolerate free-loaders who make unearned profits by depriving authors and publishers of their due compensation. This is an important step towards more transparent, honest, and fair trade of digital content on the Internet."
"This case demonstrates, in particular in the context of current debates, that systematic copyright infringement has developed into a highly criminal and lucrative business. The fight against piracy is not an impediment on one's freedom of expression, but a necessity to reinstate the rule of law on the internet. It is not only in the interest of the thousands of people who dedicate their working lives to the development of our cultural heritage, but first of all in the interest of the authors who depend on fair compensation for their work. Whoever ignores how these issues are intertwined seriously threatens cultural diversity," says Alexander Skipis, CEO of Börsenverein.
The high level of success enjoyed by the sites' operators has been possible because the close interconnection of a sharehoster service and a link library enables the illegal uploading of the copyrighted works that are made immediately accessible to the public without limitations. The true nature of the sites has been disguised by the legitimate-sounding domain name ("library.nu") and the overall appearance of the sites.
Taking action against their massive infringement has been challenging because the operators have also gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, including name changes, false registrations, server relocations, and the use of sophisticated anti-detection systems. They persisted in offering infringed content despite previous attempts to stop their illegal activities until this action
After conducting intensive investigations, the publishers were able to identify the site's operators and provide evidence for their connection to the court. As a result, the publishers made extensive claims before the /Landgericht/ (regional court) of Munich I. A total of 17 interim injunctions were obtained and served, and the sites have shut down.
The international alliance of publishers is coordinated by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the International Publishers Association and the law firm Lausen Rechtsanwälte, lead managed by lawyer Dr. Ursula Feindor-Schmidt. The publishing houses involved are Cambridge University Press, Georg Thieme, Harper Collins, Hogrefe, Macmillan, Cengage Learning, Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons Inc., The McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson Education Ltd., Pearson Education Inc., Oxford University Press, Springer, Taylor & Francis, C.H. Beck as well as Walter de Gruyter. The course of action is supported by the Association of American Publishers, Nederlands Uitgeversverbond NUV, Associazione Italiana Editori, and the STM Group.