Lee Child, Sylvia Day, John Grisham, and Other Members of the Authors Guild Join With Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House in Suit Against Ebook Piracy Site
Update (08/28/2020): U.S. District Court Judge Pechman has granted the request of authors and publishers for preliminary injunction in the Kiss Library lawsuit. The injunction extends the court’s July 8, 2020, temporary restraining order against the ebook pirates and directs third parties, including search engines, ad services, domain registrars, payment processors, and privacy proxies, to suspend services, locate and freeze the pirates’ assets, and turn over documents and records related to the piracy scheme. The court issued the injunction, which will remain in effect during the pendency of the lawsuit, following a hearing on August 25. The defendants failed to attend the hearing and have not filed anything with the court in response to the allegations against them. Judge Pechman’s injunction is substantially based on the proposed order submitted the plaintiffs, signaling that the court found the plaintiffs’ allegations and evidence against the pirates credible and deserving of strong injunctive relief.
Update (07/18/2020): On July 8, 2020, Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued the TRO pursuant to which domain registrars must disable the domains controlled by Kiss Library and turn over all documents connected to sites and their operators within five days. The order further directs payment processors to identify and freeze all of Kiss Library’s financial assets. All of the known domain names associated with the pirate operation have been taken down and lawyers for the plaintiffs are working with domain registrars to obtain all information about the individuals who registered them. A hearing has been set in the case for August 25, 2020, at which the court will decide whether the temporary restraining order will be converted into a preliminary injunction.
SEATTLE (July 7, 2020): Members of the Authors Guild, together with publishers Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House LLC, today filed a suit against book piracy entity Kiss Library in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs from the Authors Guild include its president, Doug Preston, and members and board members Lee Child, Sylvia Day, John Grisham, C.J. Lyons, Jim Rasenberger, T.J. Stiles, R.L. Stine, Monique Truong, Scott Turow, Nicholas Weinstock and Stuart Woods. The complaint asks that Kiss Library and its operators be enjoined from illegally copying, distributing and selling works written or published by the plaintiffs.
Kiss Library, which does business under Kissly.net, Libly.net, Cheap-Library.com and other domain names, is a pirate online bookstore based in Ukraine that illegally sells pirated ebooks at discounted prices to unsuspecting U.S. readers. The defendants dress their websites up to make them look like sophisticated, legitimate sites, intentionally deceiving consumers who are unaware that authors, publishers and legitimate booksellers are being denied their legal share of the sales price.
“In the last decade, and especially the last couple of years, the number of piracy complaints handled by the Authors Guild has skyrocketed, which is why we no longer could sit by and allow book piracy entities like Kiss Library to continue to rob authors and publishers of their ability to earn a living,” said Doug Preston, president of the Authors Guild and one of the plaintiffs. “We are filing this suit not only on behalf of ourselves but for the thousands of authors who labor years to write a book, putting their hearts and souls into every sentence, only to see their income lost to book piracy.”
A 2017 study by Nielsen and Digimarc indicated that illegal ebook downloads in the United States amounted to approximately $315 million in lost ebook sales per year, negatively affecting legitimate book sales by as much as 14 percent. Since the 2017 study, the number of pirate ebook sellers has proliferated at an alarming rate.
Preston added, “While the main culprits are the Kiss Library websites and operators, it doesn’t help that sites devoted to ebook piracy are readily available through U.S. search engines.” American authors and publishing companies have no recourse against these rogue foreign sites, other than through expensive federal litigation.
“We are very grateful to Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House for joining us in this lawsuit, as few authors possess the financial resources to file suit in federal court, particularly against a foreign adversary as cagey as Kiss Library,” said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild. “Over the last several years, we have worked through various channels to curtail the proliferation of ebook piracy sites, but Kiss Library has been a challenge since it is a particularly egregious criminal enterprise. It sells highly commercial books and passes itself off as a legitimate site. Unlike authorized sites that pay for the books they sell, Kiss Library keeps all the proceeds that it illegally obtains from American readers. Not a single penny goes to the authors or publishers that produce the books.”
Rasenberger added, “This filing joins together bestselling and emerging authors with industry leaders in a united fight against piracy. Every purchase from an illegal piracy site represents a theft of earned income from the author and publisher, causing massive losses to the industry that, over time, will diminish the industry’s ability to publish a wide diversity of voices. This outright theft must stop.”
Read the full complaint here.
About the Authors Guild
The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Its mission is to empower working writers by advocating for the rights of authors and journalists. The Guild protects free speech and authors’ copyrights, fights for fair contracts and a living wage and provides an engaged and welcoming community for all published authors. For more, visit www.authorsguild.org.
About Amazon Publishing
Amazon Publishing is a leading trade publisher of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books with a mission to empower outstanding storytellers and connect them with readers worldwide. They publish emerging, bestselling and critically-acclaimed authors in digital, print and audio formats. For more information, visit apub.com.
About Penguin Random House LLC
Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, is dedicated to its mission of nourishing a universal passion for reading by connecting authors and their writing with readers everywhere. The company, which employs more than 10,000 people globally, was formed on July 1, 2013, by Bertelsmann and Pearson. As of April 1, 2020, Bertelsmann is full owner of the company. With more than 300 imprints and brands on six continents, Penguin Random House comprises adult, children’s, fiction, nonfiction, print, digital and English- and Spanish-language trade book publishing businesses in more than 20 countries worldwide. With over 15,000 new titles, and more than 600 million print, audio and ebooks sold annually, Penguin Random House’s publishing lists include more than 80 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.
Sandy Long, COO
The Authors Guild
 Nielsen and Digimarc, Inside the Mind of a Book Pirate 4 (2017), https://www.digimarc.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/inside-the-mind-of-a-book-pirate.pdf.