During the past week users of the popular book downloading portal Library.nu started to notice that the site no longer carried links to files.
Today delivered another surprise when the site suddenly began redirecting to Google books.
Initially it was unclear what motivated the site’s owners to take these drastic actions, but a statement by a coalition of the world’s largest book publishers including Cambridge University Press, Harper Collins, Elsevier and John Wiley & Sons, seems to have cleared up the mystery.
The publishers obtained an injunction against Library.nu and the cyberlocker ifile.it from the regional court in Munich. They claimed that both sites were operating an unauthorized “internet library” that made available more than 400,000 high-quality e-books. In addition, the publishers said the sites made $11 million in revenue.
The court agreed with the publishers and the owners of the sites were served with an order to halt their infringing activities.
As a result, both sites have voluntarily pulled their services offline. Library.nu now redirects to Google books and ifile.it has put up a message stating “no upload servers currently available.”
However, this doesn’t mean that the picture painted by the book publishers is accurate. TorrentFreak spoke to the owner of ifile.it who told us that they can barely cover the server costs with the revenue they make.
“The site only had premium accounts since November 2011. It was free since 2006 and still is free for those who want to use it for free,” the owner told us.
The legal team of the publishers estimated the revenue based on page impressions as well as estimated income from premium accounts, but this figure is laughable according to the ifile.it owner, which makes sense considering the site’s modest size.
The owner further said they always try cooperate with publishers and that the site is still fully operational for registered users.
Responding to the news, the book publishers declared victory.
“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.
“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 added.
Jens Bammel of the International Publishers Association, the umbrella organization responsible for tracking down the owners of the two sites, described the file-sharing sites as criminal outfits.
“The global publishing industry has once again shown that it can and will stand up against large-scale organised copyright crime,” Bammel says commenting on the news.
“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,” he added.
Despite the preliminary success, there are no guarantees that both sites will remain inactive. ifile.it, for example, is still working as usual for registered users.
Update: response added from the ifile.it owner, who noted that they only shut down anonymous uploads.