Uncle Sam Cracks Down on Music and Movie Piracy. But What’s with Books?

Does anybody know a politician who cares about books?  Authors and publishers could sure use a lobbyist, but it looks like the movie and music industries have more money and clout to spend closing down illegal file-sharing websites.

That’s the impression you get from reading a New York Times report about a shutdown by the Federal government of  websites that facilitate facilitating illegal filesharing of music and movies.

Oddly, the government office that seized the sites is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security. The reason Immigration and Customs get involved is that some of the most flagrant sources of copyright larceny take place abroad.  “American business is under assault from counterfeiters and pirates every day, seven days a week,” an executive with the enforcement agency said.  “Criminals are stealing American ideas and products and distributing them over the Internet.”

To tell you the truth, we don’t much care if it’s the American Battle Monuments Commission, we just want someone in our government to kick book pirates in the ass. Ben Sisario of the Times tells us that “Some Among the domains seized were torrent-finder.com and those of three sites that specialized in music: onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com and dajaz1.com. TorrentFreak, a news blog about BitTorrent — a file-sharing system that has tended to elude the authorities because it is decentralized — said that at least 70 other addresses had been seized, most belonging to sites related to counterfeit clothing, DVDs and other goods.”  But some of these sites carry e-books too, and besides, the same torrent file-sharing techniques used by music and movie pirates are used to steal book content, too.

Aside from hiding in remote locations abroad, often under the protection of foreign governments, many sites steer just clear of the law by “fencing” – that is, serving simply as links to pirate sites. Kind of like head shops that sell drug paraphernalia but not the drugs themselves.  Fileshare sites  also reconstitute themselves as quickly as they’re taken down, challenging lawmakers to whac-a-mole them, as we recently described in Freebie Booksite Taken Down by Google Reappears One Hour Later. Indeed, not long after the government shut his site down, one operator had it up at a different address.

So? How about it, Congressperson? You want my vote?  Shut down the book-torrent sites.And while you’re at it, find a way to regulate fences.

For a complete archive of E-Reads postings on piracy visit Pirate Central.

Richard Curtis

Every Blogger owes a debt of gratitude to newspapers and magazines. This posting relies on original research and reporting performed by The New York Times.

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2 Responses to Uncle Sam Cracks Down on Music and Movie Piracy. But What’s with Books?

  1. Rowena Cherry says:

    Richard,

    Our current President is the author of three books, at least. And, at least two of them are quite widely pirated.

    Former Presidents are also authors, mostly of memoirs. Ronald Reagan, George Bush… I’m sure I saw Bill Clinton looking concerned on a cover of a book on a pirate site.

    Arguably the most famous woman in American politics (Sarah Palin) has two books for sale.

    I’m told that the current Vice-President, Joe Biden, has a powerful interest in making life unpleasant for copyright infringers.

    Maybe the trick is to share (with them) a comprehensive list of where and of how many illegal copies of their works have been downloaded in violation of their copyrights, and at what estimated cost to the tax-payer and their favorite charities.

  2. Rowena Cherry says:

    Doesn’t OCILLA regulate fences?

    If an OSP permits repeated infringement, and does not remove the infringer, isn’t it open to being considered an accessory and losing its Safe Harbor protection.

    The problem is, some free hosting sites claim that they don’t have “members” and therefore cannot delete accounts.

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