Pirated eBooks can be downloaded from dozens if not hundreds of places online. From torrent sites like The Pirate Bay to so-called DDL (direct download) platforms, eBooks are both quick and easy to obtain.
Of course, with the rise of social media, it’s now easier than ever for like-minded individuals to meet up for all kinds of activities, eBook sharing included. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, which says it has recently targeted a prolific group of sharers.
Acting on an anonymous tip-off, BREIN says it was able to infiltrate two “private and secret” Facebook groups that were dedicated to the uploading and sharing of unlicensed eBooks. More than 8,000 titles were made available by the groups’ members – a total of 3,000 people across the two groups.
Armed with its evidence, BREIN said it went to court and obtained an ex parte order, i.e one that didn’t involve both sides of the dispute to be heard. It subsequently made an agreement with the four managers of the groups, which requires them to cease-and-desist from their activities and pay a settlement to BREIN.
“They signed a declaration of abstention and have now paid more than 6,000 euros to BREIN. If they go wrong again, this amount goes up to 10,000 euros plus 500 euros per illegally offered e-book,” BREIN says.
According to the anti-piracy group, the managers of the Facebook groups acknowledged that their activities and those of their users are illegal via the published rules of the groups.
“Sharing e-books is and remains illegal, that is a choice you make,” the managers reportedly said. BREIN says that one of the managers, a 49-year-old woman, was a prolific sharer in her own right, having personally upload 1,000 eBooks for download.
While BREIN clearly takes this kind of unlawful sharing seriously, the anti-piracy group does point out that not every illegal download represents a lost sale. Instead, it highlights the existence of studies which indicate that the “so-called substitution” rate is around one lost sale per three illegal downloads.
However, BREIN also points out that legal eBook platforms give potential purchasers the ability to sample parts of books before committing to buying them, so lost sales in the eBook sector are “probably higher” given the absence of the “sampling effect”.