Earlier this week, Amazon Content Services, publisher Penguin Random House and several authors including John Grisham and Lee Child, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against ‘pirate’ eBook sites operating under the Kiss Library brand.
Accusing the platforms of “rampant and willful infringement” due to their sales of pirated eBooks to the public, the plaintiffs alleged direct and secondary copyright infringement, while demanding the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work. In addition, the architects of the lawsuit demanded urgent injunctive relief in an effort to bring the sites’ infringing activities to a swift halt.
After being filed on Tuesday and with the ink barely dry on the complaint, United States Senior District Judge Marsha J. Pechman responded immediately by handing down a temporary restraining order.
Comprehensive Temporary Restraining Order
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated they are entitled to immediate injunctive relief by establishing they are likely to succeed on the merits of their copyright claims,” the Judge wrote in her order.
“Defendants have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, locations, and proceeds from Plaintiffs’ and this Court’s detection, including by using multiple false identities and addresses associated with their operations and purposely-deceptive contact information.”
The Judge found that given the above elusive behavior, it is likely that if any notice was given of an impending order, the defendants would likely destroy or hide evidence of their infringement and proceeds from the same, thus frustrating the relief sought by the plaintiffs.
The temporary restraining order is valid for 48 days but if the defendants don’t appear before August 25, 2020, to argue against it, a preliminary injunction will take its place. Whether the operators of Kiss Library will step forward remains a question but in the meantime, the Court has taken a pretty aggressive stance towards collapsing their business from every conceivable angle.
The list of targets is comprehensive, not only targeting the defendants themselves but also preventing anyone else from working or doing business with them, if that activity is connected to infringement of the plaintiffs’ rights. The companies include, but are not limited to, payment processors, domain registrars or hosts, Internet service providers, back-end service providers, affiliate program providers, web designers, and search engines.
Ex Parte Asset Restraint
Citing 17 U.S.C. § 502(a), the Judge also authorized a comprehensive restraining order against the financial mechanisms supporting the Kiss Library operation, requiring that banks, payment processors, merchant account providers and credit card companies to “immediately locate all accounts connected to Defendants or the Websites” and prevent them from transferring or disposing of any money or assets.
Judge Pechman also ordered domain registries and registrars, including Tucows Domains Inc., Whois Privacy Corp., and NameCheap, Inc., to take action against all of the defendants’ domains under their control, rendering them “inactive and non-transferable” pending further instruction from the Court.
Finally, a similar order was granted requiring email services, social media services, search engines and other online providers to disable service to all of the defendants’ websites.
The temporary restraining order obtained by Amazon Publishing, Penguin Random House, Lee Child, Sylvia Day, John Grisham, C.J. Lyons, Doug Preston, Jim Rasenberger, T.J. Stiles, R.L Stine, Monique Troung, Scott Turow, Nicholas Weinstock and Stuart Woods, can be found here (pdf)