While there have been many crackdowns across Europe, Spain has traditionally had a poor record when it comes to enforcing IP rights. However, in recent years that position has changed somewhat, with various actions against pirate sites alongside a tightening of legislation.
This week the Ministry of the Interior announced the arrest of a major eBook pirate, a first-ever event for the country.
The investigation began in 2015 following a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO), a non-profit association of authors and publishers of books, magazines, newspapers and sheet music.
According to the Ministry, CEDRO had been tracking the suspect but were only able to identify him by an online pseudonym. However, following investigations carried out by the police, his real identity was discovered.
That led to a raid in Valencia overseen by the Technological Investigation Brigade (BIT), a unit of the national civilian police force of Spain. BIT specializes in all types of emerging crime including online fraud, cyber attacks, and copyright infringement.
Local police subsequently arrested a man said to be responsible for the unlawful release of thousands of literary works. The individual is said to have maintained a server which housed all of the infringing content, some of it made available on the same day as official release.
Case investigators said that one forum carried more than 11,000 of the man’s infringing releases, which ranged from a single book to multi-title collections, a common occurrence in the eBook piracy scene. In all, 400 subsequent ‘pirate’ eBook sites are said to have utilized his releases.
Police say that a seized hard drive also contained infringing works, as well as software tools designed to remove copy protections and DRM from books purchased from legal sources and obtained from others.
Thus far, the authorities claim that the individual defrauded creators of at least 400,000 euros via his operation. A mobile telephone and banking information was also seized.