Piracy and counterfeiting of intellectual property has always been a major concern to those who create and publish works. In recent months, with economies closing down and people staying home, the publishing sector has seen an increase in online piracy.
In June, IFRRO drew this issue to the attention of the European Commission’s public consultation on the Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List. In our submission, we referred to a number of physical and online places where books and e-books are illegally traded and made available. This include websites where millions of e-books are made available illegally and free of charge, and online marketplaces that allow the sale of legitimate and pirated works alongside each other, seriously impacting the publishing community in countries such as Brazil, the Philippines and Turkey. Physical shops, such as copyshops and booksellers, also copy and trade in pirated books – one particular example is the main squares and bus terminals of Jakarta, Indonesia, where these activities openly take place.
IFRRO’s members are taking action against this blatant piracy and are also encouraging public authorities to work with rightsholders to achieve stronger copyright enforcement.
In Mexico, CeMPro is working in close collaboration with the National Chamber of the Publishing Industry to fight piracy. Two main strands of action are the filing of lawsuits before the judicial and administrative authorities, and running information campaigns about piracy together with authors and publishers’ associations.
In Singapore, publishers reached out to marketplaces that allow pirated e-books to be sold, with mixed results. Often the enforcement mechanisms that exist are more directed towards physical counterfeiting, such as for trademarks, and cannot be easily applied to online piracy.
In Spain, as reported earlier, CEDRO successfully blocked 122 Telegram channels, with more than 380,000 users, where thousands of pirated copies of books, newspapers and magazines were shared.
In Turkey, YAYBIR witnessed an increase in digital piracy and successfully worked with online platforms such as Facebook to remove pirated content.
In the USA, a number of publishers together with authors members of the Authors' Guild sued KISS Library for copyright infringement. KISS Library is a pirate online bookstore based in Ukraine that illegally sells pirated ebooks at discounted prices.
The publishing sector is also severely hit by the massive institutional copyright infringement that exist alongside different forms of piracy. The creation, during the COVID-19 pandemic, of a “National Emergency Library” by the Internet Archive, featuring 1.4 million digitized books all freely available for download, was met by a strong opposition from rightsholders worldwide, including IFRRO and many of its members. The emergency library was eventually closed down after four publishers filed a lawsuit in June, but the harm caused to individual authors and publishers remains.