As suggested in our recent article, 2010 may prove to be the year where eBooks make their real breakthrough into the mainstream.
With their increasing popularity among the masses it is inevitable that eBooks will become more widely pirated online. At the moment though, largely due to the fact that a relatively small number of people have eBook readers, piracy remains fairly low.
Having kept a close eye on the state of music piracy, where small files are traded with ease and at will, some book publishers have already taken action against sites which have assisted in the spread of electronic books.
In 2008, the 100,000 member TextBoook Torrents finally folded under the threat of lawsuits and in February this year several large book publishers filed a lawsuit against file-hosting site, RapidShare.
Their lawsuit cited 148 book titles and demanded that RapidShare stop them being made available to the public via their service. The District Court in Hamburg handed down a preliminary ruling against RapidShare which granted the request.
Now the signs are that other publishers are digging their trenches ready for a battle.
Publishers association GAU has just announced that it began working with anti-piracy group BREIN this month. Together they will attempt to combat the online piracy of eBooks in a pilot exercise which will last until at least January 2011.
In keeping with the skills it acquired going after dozens of lesser known file-sharing sites and forums offering links to movies, BREIN will now also monitor the Internet for sites and services facilitating the spread of eBooks. BitTorrent, Usenet and various other file-sharing sites will be targeted, including forums which offer links to material on sites such as Rapidshare. The file-hosters themselves will also be ordered to remove infringing content, rendering undiscovered links useless.
For smaller infringements it’s believed BREIN will issue a takedown request, but for the bigger ones it can be presumed that BREIN will operate as normal, by using existing legal decisions to force site owners to close their operations under the threat of overwhelming legal might. According to GAU, BREIN have already had some successes but it is believed these are against individuals selling illegal copies of eBooks rather than giving them away for free.
Not everyone in the book industry is equally excited about BREIN’s expansion plans. Author Karin Spaink is one of the most vocal opponents. “I don’t want my intellectual property rights to be abused by BREIN so they can restrict your and my civil rights,” she wrote in a recent blog post.
For BREIN, however, it makes perfect sense to bring in new clients to help cover increasing legal costs. After all, if they are to take down a site (such as the recent MasterNZB) for infringing movie copyrights, why not bring in another paymaster and take it down for infringing eBook copyrights at the same time? Even more revenue for the same amount of work sounds like a very good business plan.