In July, Amazon Content Services, publisher Penguin Random House and several authors including John Grisham and Lee Child, targeted a range of eBook download sites operating under the ‘Kiss Library’ brand.
Listing several domains including kisslibrary.net, kissly.net, wtffastspring.bid, libly.net, and cheaplibrary.com, among others, the lawsuit alleges that the sites offer a wide selection of books at “unbeatable prices”. The plaintiffs allege that this deep discounting is possible for only one reason – the content is pirated.
Alleging willful direct copyright infringement, among other things, the plaintiffs demanded statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringed work. They further demanded injunctive relief, including an order impounding all copies of the infringing materials.
Temporary Restraining Orders Quickly Handed Down
Noting that the defendants had gone to “great lengths” to conceal their identities, within days of the filing of the lawsuit a Washington court handed down a comprehensive temporary restraining order in an effort to shut down the allegedly-infringing activities of the sites.
The orders included evidence preservation instructions and restrained many entities, including payment processors, domain registrars, Internet service companies, advertisers and search engines, from doing business with the sites.
In addition, the order required financial companies such as banks, payment processors and credit card companies to locate the defendants’ accounts and temporarily freeze them. Domain companies were instructed to do the same, rendering the sites inaccessible.
The restraining order was valid for just 48 days, meaning that the defendants’ had until August 25, 2020, to appear and put up a fight. Despite being notified of the action via a KissLibrary.com email address, that did not happen.
Kiss Library Defendants Did Not Appear
After failing to respond to the plaintiffs correspondence or the court’s order, the Kiss Library defendants also failed to attend a show cause hearing this week. As a result, the court went about its business in a predictably one-sided manner, declaring that on the basis of the plaintiffs’ allegations, their case against the defendants is likely to succeed.
“Defendants have engaged in direct copyright infringement of those Works by reproducing, displaying, and distributing the Works for profit through the Websites identified in the Complaint,” the court’s order reads.
“Defendants have induced, caused, and materially contributed to others’ infringement of those Works, through the intentional solicitation, facilitation, and ability to control and supervise others’ upload of the infringed Works on the Websites for profit,” and as a result, “third-party purchasers have also impermissibly copied Plaintiffs’ protected works, further infringing Plaintiffs’ rights in those Works.”
Declaring that the defendants intentionally contributed to the infringing activity and at a minimum acted with “willful blindness” or in “reckless disregard” of the plaintiffs’ copyrights, Senior District Judge Marsha J. Pechman handed down a broad preliminary injunction Thursday against the Kiss Library defendants and those doing business with them.
While the Kiss Library sites appear to have gone offline following the filing of the lawsuit in July, the preliminary injunction handed down yesterday should make it extremely difficult for them to reappear in any recognizable form.
Targeting the defendants and any third-party entities connected to them, the injunction prevents banks, payment and cryptocurrency processors, email providers, domain registrars, hosts, ISPs and a wide range ancillary web companies, including search engines, ad companies and even web designers, from doing any business that might contribute to the infringement of the plaintiffs’ copyrights.
Furthermore, if any of these entities have documents, business records, computer files or other evidence relating to the defendants’ websites, assets and operations, these must not be moved, destroyed or otherwise disposed of. This instruction will stay in place until the court rules otherwise.
Ex Parte Asset Restraint
In an effort to ensure that the Kiss Library defendants don’t disappear with the profits of their activities while leaving nothing for the plaintiffs in the event of a damages award, a wide range of financial institutions are ordered to immediately locate all accounts connected to the defendants and/or the websites and prevent them from transferring or disposing of any funds.
These include named entities FastSpring, PayPal, BitPay, and MasterCard but extends to any company or organization served with the order, such as “banks, savings and loan associations, payment processors or other financial institutions.”
On the technical front, the court requires companies including Cloudflare, Tucows, Whois Privacy Corp., NameCheap, 1337 Services LLC (Njalla), NameSilo, Web.com, White & Case, and Pork Bun LLC to disable the Kiss Library domains within three days and prevent them from being transferred.
After concluding the plaintiffs had “engaged in reasonable but fruitless efforts” to uncover the identities of the people behind the Kiss Library operation, the court has now stepped in to assist.
All entities covered by the instructions in the preliminary injunction must hand over all information and records they hold on the defendants and/or their websites within five days. This includes names, addresses, financial accounts, details of assets and any other information, without limitation, that could allow the plaintiffs to positively identify the defendants.
The preliminary injunction and expedited discover order can be obtained here (pdf)