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Legitimate eBook Lending Community Closed After Copyright Complaints 288

Ian Lamont writes "LendInk, a community for people interesting in using the lending features of the Kindle and Nook, has been shut down after some authors mistakenly thought the site was hosting pirated ebooks. The site brought together people who wanted to loan or borrow specific titles that are eligible for lending, and then sent them to Amazon or to make the loans. Authors and publishers who were unaware of this feature of the Kindle and Nook, and/or mistakenly assumed the site was handing out pirated copies, were infuriated. LendInk's hosting company received hundreds of complaints and shut the site down. LendInk's owner says: 'The hosting company has offered to reinstate on the condition that I personally respond to all of the complaints individually. I have to say, I really do not know if it is worth the effort at this point. I have read the comments many of these people have posted and I don't think any form of communication will resolve the issues in their eyes. Most are only interested in getting money from me and others are only in it for the kill. They have no intentions of talking to me or working this out. So much for trying to start a business and live the American Dream.'"
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Legitimate eBook Lending Community Closed After Copyright Complaints

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  • Easy.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Immostlyharmless ( 1311531 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:07PM (#40926163)
    Make a EULA that states you can charge for responding to errant take down notices.
    Respond to every take down notice with a bill for hourly services rendered.
  • by beernutz ( 16190 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:31PM (#40926361) Homepage Journal

    This would let a LOT of these kind of sites flourish.

    I say, turn it around on them. Let them all spaz out when they see 100 more sites offering this service pop up.

  • Re:Crowdsource (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:31PM (#40926365)

    There is another option.

    Go with a provider that has some backbone and won't just shut someone down on some specious and dubious copyright claims.

    He is a business already paying fees, why not just give those fees to a place like Free Speech hosting?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:32PM (#40926377)

    He should publish the name of the authors who complained. Authors are definitely vulnerable to negative press. And certainly legal threats can't be thought to be private.

  • Re:Easy.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:34PM (#40926389)
    And remember all those "Under penalty or perjury" parts. Sue for libel on each and every one.
  • Re:Alternative? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:39PM (#40926435)

    >Is there any alternative sites out there?

    Yes, it's called bittorrent, because clearly the publishers are not interested in playing by the rules anyway. If it was up to them, brick and mortar libraries would disappear too.


  • by SilverJets ( 131916 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:53PM (#40926577) Homepage

    I own them. Neither Amazon nor the author can take them away from me.

    I can loan them to whomever I wish for however long I wish and the author can go pound sand.

  • Re:Crowdsource (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b4dc0d3r ( 1268512 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:53PM (#40926581)

    Crowdsourcing is only a viable option when you only need "good enough", and you can get an informed crowd together. In this case, not only is it inadvisable, it is dangerous. I would not trust volunteers to respond. An inadequate response could very well led to an undesirable situation.

    If no reply is sent, the author's representation will almost certainly file suit, so you want to ensure no response is overlooked. If you do not sufficiently address each point of a C&D, your response will be considered evidence against the person you are trying to help. If in any way the volunteer gives the impression of disdain or dismissiveness, intentional infringement will be claimed.

    Keep in mind, you will win any lawsuit, because they agreed to lending as part of the publishing agreement. But paying for the defense could be expensive, especially if multiple suits are filed. One volunteer screwing up and you are probably financially ruined.

    And no need to bring up the "have to be rich to get justice" garbage, it's been beaten to death. Yes, it's not fair, and yes in most cases it is true. We have discussed it to death, just leave it be.

  • Re:DMCA irrelevant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:01PM (#40926643)

    Then the hosting company can be sued. They are not supposed to remove material (or suspend accounts) unless they FIRST receive a DMCA-compliant takedown request. Plus give the owner a chance to respond to the request. That is the current federal law and the ISP violated it.

    Also I doubt there was a single lawyer involved; just a bunch of angry authors sending nasty messages. Those have ZERO legal standing, unless they were specifically formatted as a DMCA takedown notice.

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:19PM (#40926813) Homepage
    I just wonder how we're going to get rid of this false concept of ownership, which is what needs to happen for us to have any chance of keeping our free speech and open internet, considering the last time it required a civil war. "Occupying" a park certainly isn't going to change things, nor is voting, nor is the libertarian dream of "voting with your feet."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:20PM (#40926825)

    No, it's not home ownership, it's vigilante justice.

    Yes folks, if you are an American you can shutdown -k a the website of your choosing simply by complaining. There's not waiting for some crusty old judge or lawyers saddled by common law or the rules of evidence. Just pick a site and complain to their hosting service that something on the site violates the Mickey Mouse/Sonny Bono law Copyright or the DMCA and wait for 5 minutes.

  • by SealBeater ( 143912 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:26PM (#40926867) Homepage

    I bet this didn't make the slightest dent in book piracy either.

  • Re:Can't he sue? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529 AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:30PM (#40926907)

    I have mod points and karma, but I'm down for losing both...

    The Bible doesn't say "Thou shalt not judge". In Matthew 7:1-2, Jesus says, "“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." For the extent of your post it's merely a point of semantics, but it does go both ways. If the measuring rod I will be judged with is my own, then it makes the most sense for me to assume as little as possible, gather as much information, and attempt to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. After all, that's the measuring rod I'd want to be judged with.

    That said, as a Christ follower myself, I do my best to put up with a lot of the general anti-Christianity sentiment on Slashdot. Plenty of it is deserved for a lot of reasons, and I realize that it comes with the territory of the name. I consider it quite possibly the greatest irony of all time that "Christian" was a term first used by nonbelievers to describe those following Christ because of how closely they emulated Him. Today, that same name is nearly synonymous with acting the opposite of Jesus.

    The reason I bring this up is this: Yes, Christianity has its issues. Yes, we've got a bad reputation that we've, in many cases, brought upon ourselves. Yes, we could, as a whole, stand to become a lot more loving and a lot less judgmental. We could stand to do a lot more listening and a lot less talking. BUT...having been raised in church - and a fairly stiff, conservative one at that - and having visited several others in my area from many different denominations - I have yet to meet ONE Christian who agrees with abortion clinic bombings or the Westboro Baptist protests. On the contrary, they're generally just as outraged as you are about those issues.

    I know it goes against the stereotype, but unfortunately an extremely vocal minority gets a lot more press coverage than the positive groups that help feed homeless people, work to facilitate drug rehabilitation, and just in general try to service their communities. Don't believe it happens? I've personally been involved in these activities numerous times throughout the years, but think about it: the people picketing want attention, and get it. People actually helping, generally don't do it for the publicity, so they don't get any.

    No church is perfect, and some are more involved than others. That doesn't mean that churches generally support causing harm or performing acts of vandalism to the staff and buildings of abortion clinics or wish physical harm toward homosexuals.

  • Re:Crowdsource (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:30PM (#40926913)

    That..... and he lives in California, which Amazon is in dispute with. They suspended all affiliates in that state, so the guy's "business" has not made any money in 9 months. I can understand why he has no motivation to restore a website from which he gets no income.

  • Re:Easy.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dark12222000 ( 1076451 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:34PM (#40926933)
    EULAs, like any contract, are limited to what is legal.
    It IS legal, as per the DMCA, to bill for false takedowns.
    Therefore, so long as the EULA otherwise survives Probate (and is a valid contract), then you can, in fact, bill people for wrongful takedowns.

    However, in this case, it seems like these are just very loud complaints, not actual DMCAs. Complaints carry no legal weight, but may, say, convince your hosting company to turn you off.
  • Re:Easy.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:39PM (#40926983)

    The DMCA (which I assume the takedown requests are filed under) already includes a provision that states the claimant is liable for all costs associated with false takedown requests. People just haven't bothered to push them on it.

    Ahem. (cough, cough).

    Ah, attention legal staff of the EFF. This is what we like to call a "golden moment"...

  • by Ian Lamont ( 1116549 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:55PM (#40927083) Homepage
    Go to the "see all" discussions on this page [] to see authors' misguided complaints (most are in early August). Some samples:

    Remove my books from your lists immediately...The Eternal Question and Children of Hamelin. I am seeking legal action... ... I own the copyright to my books and I did NOT give you permission to put them on your sight for lending. REMOVE THEM IMMEDIATELY! ... Please remove my three books from this site. My novel Queen Sacrifice took over a year to write and I consider book piracy to be theft from authors. Any readers who download stolen books are also guilty of stealing from authors. ... I'll add my name to this list of people pissed off that you are lending my book without my permission. This will serve as your only notice that you are to remove my book Morgan: The scandal that shook Freemasonry from your service immediately.

  • Re:Alternative? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:03AM (#40927149)
    It's not the publishers doing it in this case, it was the authors. And most authors don't want libraries gone completely. Oh no, they want them to pay the author 10 cents each time the book is loaned out. That's what they managed to get in England, and they are furious at how small it is (the fee, not England). They say that since each loan is a loss of a 5-10 pound sale, they are reasonably owed at LEAST one pound each time somebody borrows a book from the library, absolute minimum. The lesson is the oft repeated "give an inch and they'll take a mile." You extend copyright a year, they'll keep demanding it again and again until, oh look, it lasts 150 years. You give them a cent and they will demand a million dollars because they have come to rely on your government handouts but find they are insufficient. In this case the list of anti-sharing, anti-reading, authors needs to be published so they can be boycotted.
  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:16AM (#40927243)

    Quite the opposite. I wonder how many ex LendInkers, frustrated that their legitimate channel for sharing books was denied, threw their hands up in frustration, said "screw playing by their rules then", and took themselves away to the Pirate Bay.

  • Re:Can't he sue? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:28AM (#40927329)

    >>> I have yet to meet ONE Christian who agrees with abortion clinic bombings or the Westboro Baptist protests.

    Neither have I actually.
    The problem is that they keep their trap shut. They need to open their mouths and say, "This is wrong," the way that I do. Otherwise their silence is viewed as approval of the hatefilled Chritians' actions. (Just the same as the silence by Muslims is viewed as approval of the terrorists.)

  • Re:Easy.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:37AM (#40927381)

    The problem is that it only applies to complainants who "knowingly materially misrepresent". In order for that to be the case, the complainant would need to properly understand that the lending system in question is legitimate. Based on the summary text, I'd say that this understanding is decidedly lacking. It's possible that some folks are issuing complaints cynically, with the understanding that the lending is legitimate, but it seems far more likely to me that most of the complaints are knee-jerk reactions of the form, "OMG MY COPYRIGHTS YOU EVIL PIRATING PARASITE SCUMBAGS," which arise in response to the mere concept of "eBook lending website".

  • What got to me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Havenwar ( 867124 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:42AM (#40927819)

    What got to me was that on the complaining authors blog - which someone linked to - there was a part of a post saying that the reason they complained was because lendlnk was not an authorized lender, and only loans through authorized lenders cause the author to get their commission from the loan. Now, from what I've gathered lendlnk didn't loan the books themselves, they sent people to amazon - an authorized lender. However that's really not the big news here.

    The big news is that authors are getting paid when we loan an e-book to someone else. If this is true it's horrendous.

    Seriously, what's next, will they want to get paid if we read it in a new room? If we remove it from the kindle and then re-download it? If we read it in the dark? I mean, clearly it's amazon that pays out, but of course the cost ends up with the end consumer eventually... and even if it didn't, we really don't want to create another class of content producers that are fully expecting to write a book or three and then sit on their fat asses and ride the royalty checks for the rest of their lives. That's how the music and film industry got to be the giant douche-nozzles they are today - keep getting paid over and over again for the same work they already did and moved on from.

    Man, I wish I could go to work at say a supermarket, work for a day, or hell work for a year... and then get paid a .01% royalty every time someone goes through the checkout for the rest of my life.

    Now I'm not one of those people who devalue abstract goods... Ideas, books, poetry, whatever... these are valuable things. People should get paid to bring these to the world... However they should get paid for the work they do. Paid per book, per work, or per hour - whatever business model the REAL WORLD can handle... but they shouldn't be paid for future use of work they've already done. If they write a book in three months, they should write another one six months later, or a year, if they want to keep making a living as an author. Or if they do it for fun, because they WANT to write... well then they can just as well do it while working in wallmart to put food on the table. A lot of us - me included - could probably live off things we do for fun... But only if we made it our fulltime job. Of course eventually the market for professional gameplayers and buckyball artists would be saturated, but you get the idea. If it's a fulltime job, you should get paid while you work it.

    So stop going the other way by bending to give these lazy fucks more money for things they shouldn't be able to even know. If I lend my hardcopy to someone, the author doesn't get paid again. Nothing has changed in what happens, so nothing should change in the payscheme.

  • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <> on Thursday August 09, 2012 @02:13AM (#40927941) Homepage

    I think many of them DO actually at least partly approve of these things, but feel guilty enough to lie about it. If there are so many of these purported "moderate christians" who dont want to burn gays at the stake and dont want to tell women what to do with their bodies and dont want to teach creationism in science class and just want to be good people and love their neighbors and follow the teachings of christ... do they not vote?

    Because various referendums around the country definitely indicate that these mythical voiceless moderates dont really represent a significant percentage of christians, much less the general population.

  • by Havenwar ( 867124 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @02:21AM (#40927969)

    If someone - Amazon - starts paying people off so that you can use property you have legally bought in a legal fashion, then that's a horrible precedent no matter how you bend it. I don't know about you, but I don't feel comfortable about money trading hands so that I can do things that are my legal right to property that is legally mine. Why?

    Well because if Amazon pays for it, you can bet your sweet ass it's included in the price when you buy it from them. Which means you are paying extra to actually use your legal rights with your legal property. Charging people for property is okay, like a book. Charging people for a service, say renting a book to them, is okay. Charging people for property, and then charging them some extra for the permission to use it legally... that's getting paid for a bridge that wasn't yours to sell.

    I'm glad I found out about this, I'll make sure never to use the lending feature on my kindle. I'll just either lend them my actual kindle so they can read it, or I'll direct them to a pirated version of the book. Both are the exact moral equivalent of lending them the file, they get to read it, decide if they want to own it... neither way gets the author paid extra for this new reader, unless they catch them as a new reader of their own.

  • by devent ( 1627873 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @04:40AM (#40928707) Homepage

    It really saddens me that we have invented that machine that can make copies for effective 0 costs and distribute them around the world with light speed for effective 0 costs again, but we pass legislation to cripple the new technology as best as we can.

    It's like we invent the warp engine and pass legislation to limit the maximum speed to 100km/sec to prevent the old space rockets to go out of business. Or we invent the replicator and pass legislation to throw out at least as much food as we produce out of energy to save farming.

    We need finally wake up and stop destroying new emerging markets. No wonder entrepreneurs have trouble come up with business models in the internet. It's not that people don't pay or the piracy or any other straw-man. It's the simple fact that any business on the internet is dealing with information and we try our best to destroy information sharing via politics.

    Put the copyright back in the way it was (with registration, only 14 years and 14 years extension) and then successive lower the copyright terms as the distribution becomes easier and easier.

    How much lost revenue we have because of the draconian copyright laws? How many new jobs can we create in the new markets?

  • by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @05:02AM (#40928821)

    I have mod points and I could have modded you down. Having 100+ similar sites isn't going to work. The strength of the concept is to have all owners join one, or perhaps a few, of these sites. 100 sites with 1.000 members is a lot less effective than 1 site with 100.000 members.

  • by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @07:36AM (#40929535) Homepage

    Move away from the gay marriage issue as I think it clouds what the GP is saying. what about focusing on the creationist teaching and scientific demonization? Where are the moderate christians on that? As the GP said, "various referendums around the country definitely indicate that these mythical voiceless moderates dont really represent a significant percentage of christians, much less the general population."

    I find it disheartening to be sabotaging our children w/ the level of education and anti-science stance that seems to be coming from the far christian right but I am not seeing (significant percentages of) moderates marginalizing the loonies.

  • Re:Can't he sue? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cornjones ( 33009 ) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @07:41AM (#40929565) Homepage

    Then go vote. As a block, the christian stance seems to be against equal rights for gays and against teaching and doing science. To say that you disagree with that is fine but that is what your group is representing as a block. as the GP says, the moderates of the religion seem agree silently with these things because they are not voting these issues down and marginalizing the loonies in the wings...

  • by nitio ( 825314 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `sehtur.oluap'> on Thursday August 09, 2012 @08:13AM (#40929761) Homepage
    Now here is the interesting part: I buy all my books through the Big A but the first thing I do is copy to my computer, remove DRM and have it being backed up in a format I can read anytime I want.

    Do I send this out? No. Do I lend these DRM-free? No. Do I copy this DRM-free to all my other devices? No- I really use their reader for all devices.

    I just want to make sure that in the event that they go down, my books don't go with them.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.