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Piracy Books Businesses Crime Google The Almighty Buck

How To Set Up a Pirate EBook Store In Google Play Books 90

Nate the greatest writes: Most ebook pirates simply upload ebooks to one of many pirate sites, but the entrepreneurial ones have opened storefronts in Google Play Books. They invent an author's name, and then upload dozens if not hundreds of pirated ebooks under that name, The names can range from Devad Akbak to Ispanyolca, but the really clever pirates choose a legit sounding name like Bestsellers — Books USA Press or Fort Press and then start selling ebooks.

Thanks to Google's indifference, the pirates can continue to sell ebooks no matter how many times copyright holders might complain. If Google takes a pirated ebook down in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates simply upload another copy of the same title.
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How To Set Up a Pirate EBook Store In Google Play Books

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  • Lawsuit incoming? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @02:31PM (#49659359)

    Unless every single pirated work is free on their store, Google is in for a massive lawsuit and probably criminal charges for profiting on copyright violations.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What about ebay they’ve been selling illegal stuff for as long as the site exists no one sued their arses. I think it's not going to happen either, because there is no way google, can tell if a copy is illegal and even if they can it would seem impossible to review every book published. And if they get a DMCA notice they do take it down so, it's not like there not willing to comply, also it's not googles job to play police. To me it seems normal that they don't comply with private complaints who know

      • also it's not googles job to play police

        (IANAL) — Is this really true? Consider a bunch of books uploaded, and DMCA takedown notices being received, and it forms a pattern where in multitudes of cases where a book of the same name but differing authors or maybe not even changing the author keeps getting taken down again and again. This pattern might be enough for a basis to a lawsuit of negligence or some other fancy legal term.

        • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @03:21PM (#49659671)

          I could personally target one legitimate publisher with many DMCA take down requests (where I lie about my identity). And I could do this repeatedly. That would create a pattern. Wouldn't it?

          Also, I wonder what happens when a scammer is discovered. Is the ebook taken back by Google like Amazon did with 1984? Google Play Books is a DRM bookstore, so technically it could do that.

          No one I know actually uses Google Play Books. It's full of DRM and Google doesn't even prevent competing bookstores from appearing on Android. So it's not like anyone is actually buying any ebook from them. Their prices are not even discounted compared to the ebooks from other bookstores without DRM.

          • Re:Lawsuit incoming? (Score:4, Informative)

            by Pembers ( 250842 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @06:11PM (#49660535) Homepage

            DMCA takedown requests are made under penalty of perjury, but that only applies to the part where you declare that you're the copyright owner of the work that's being infringed (or are authorised to act on their behalf). That is, if you file a takedown that says "I am the owner of work X and I claim that work Y, which you are hosting, infringes on the copyright of X," and you're not actually the owner of X, you can go to jail for it. (Though I've never heard of that actually happening.) If you are the owner of X, but Y doesn't actually infringe on it, you're allowed to say, "Oops, sorry!" and carry on as if nothing had happened, even if it should be obvious to any reasonable person that there's no way on Earth that Y could possibly infringe on X.

            I don't know anyone who uses Google Play Books either - not that I imagine my friends are a representative sample of ebook users. More than that, I don't know any authors who claim to be selling well there. (I probably know more authors than the average reader - see signature.) It's rare that the site even comes up in conversations about ebooks and where to sell them and how to market them. So even though it appears to be easy to get away with selling pirated books there, I'd be surprised if the pirates are making a large amount of money.

            I'm surprised the pirates have even figured out how to upload books, to be honest. When I decided to start selling my books there, I found the publisher's interface one of the most unfriendly and ill-thought-out sites I'd used in recent years. (To give you just one example, it would allow you to upload an ePub that didn't conform to the relevant specs, which Google would refuse to sell, but didn't give you any indication of the error until you drilled into your dashboard a few days later to find out why the book wasn't live yet.) So far, it hasn't been worth the effort for the number of books I've sold there.

          • I could personally target one legitimate publisher with many DMCA take down requests (where I lie about my identity). And I could do this repeatedly. That would create a pattern. Wouldn't it?

            That's a different pattern than GP was referring to, and wouldn't lead to the same negligence conclusion. Specifically, GP was saying "what if there are multiple legitimate takedown requests for 'Harry Potter by Al Alson', 'Harry Potter by Bob Bobson', 'Harry Potter by Charlie Charleson', 'Harry Potter by Dave Daveson', etc., each indicating infringement of the same work - Harry Potter by Rowling. Would that lead to a conclusion of negligence (or more accurately, willful blindness) by Google?"

            Your response

        • The thing is, it's true. It isn't google's job to figure out who owns which copyrights, because that's pretty much impossible for them to do with certainty.

          And the DMCA says they don't have to.

          If they properly receive and process DMCA notices, forward them to the relevant accounts and take down the content, that is what they are legally obliged to do, and that's it. And the absolves them of being responsible for the content, even if someone posts a slightly modified version of the content 2 seconds later.

      • You know, maybe they could find a way to automatically search text against a index of existing works.

        Actually, they should contact Google—I hear they're good at it.

      • Re:Lawsuit incoming? (Score:5, Informative)

        by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @03:09PM (#49659579)

        What about ebay they’ve been selling illegal stuff for as long as the site exists no one sued their arses.

        Wrong. Ebay got sued for that many times. And in some cases, it even lost. [nytimes.com]

        • Not to mention any more considerable violation results in a lawsuit against the violator, and in that case eBay must provide whatever help available in identifying and locating the violator.

          Here, we're playing whack-a-mole, with Google pretending to help while in reality they protect the violators.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        just start selling mp3's, videos and all warez then as well.

        the reasonable thing would be to screen the sellers - and if they get dmca notices, take out the entire seller.

        or heres another, if a seller gets more than 100 bucks in revenue, check just what the fuck he is selling.

    • If Google takes a pirated ebook down in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates simply upload another copy of the same title.

      This could be a problem with books having different regions, different editions, and even different covers within the same edition. Also, a DMCA notice doesn't mean that there was necessarily a copyright violation, but a claim there was a copyright violation.

      • The ISBN number has all the info needed to contact the real author/publisher. Find 2 books using the same ISBN, one of them is a fake. Even different editions of the same book, or the same edition in 2 different languages, or illustrated vs non-illustrated, need separate ISBNs, so copying the ISBN isn't going to work, and finding duplicate material from 2 separate publishers should be enough to raise a red flag.
        • Amazon does a decent job of both flagging things and responding appropriately. I've got a small ebook publishing company and we've occasionally picked up the rights to books that were either published by another publisher first, or self published and we help the author do a major edit and better cover and republish. Usually amazon asks us to confirm that we really have the rights to publish something, generally just by declaration, but in at least one case they asked us for a scan of the contract (which w

          • I guess it goes with the history of each company - Amazon pretty much got their start with books, so they are more aware of the need to keep on top of such things; Google is first and foremost an advertising company, looking to diversify their revenue streams. They could certainly do it, but right now it's obviously not a priority for them.
    • Nope (Score:5, Informative)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @03:09PM (#49659591)
      The DMCA safe harbor protects them as long as they take it down immediately on request, and google is big enough to weather any lawsuit. Now if you or I were running an app store...
      • Re:Nope (Score:4, Informative)

        by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @04:38PM (#49660089)

        The DMCA safe harbor protects them as long as they take it down immediately on request, and google is big enough to weather any lawsuit. Now if you or I were running an app store...

        No, the DMCA provides no safe harbor for anyone profiting directly from the unauthorized sale of copyrighted works, intentional or otherwise. As long as the Google bookstore gets a cut of the profit on the sale, there's no safe harbor.

        • I haven't read the law in detail but you might be right. That said my understanding from readying summaries from folks who had actually read it ( :P kinda sounds like that bit from Spaceballs, doesn't it? ) was that so long as google wasn't moderating the store then they were more or less in the clear. It was written like common carrier laws. e.g. you can't prosecute the phone company when somebody plans a bank robbery on their cell phone.

          In any case from a practical standpoint I'm sure google would win
        • The DMCA safe harbor protects them as long as they take it down immediately on request, and google is big enough to weather any lawsuit. Now if you or I were running an app store...

          No, the DMCA provides no safe harbor for anyone profiting directly from the unauthorized sale of copyrighted works, intentional or otherwise. As long as the Google bookstore gets a cut of the profit on the sale, there's no safe harbor.

          First, I don't believe that's correct. The [loc.gov] DMCA [aclu.org] doesn't seem to mention profit anywhere except in relation to whether something is a nonprofit institution of higher education.

          Second, direct vs. indirect profits are when an infringer has both direct profits from the infringement (selling the infringing work) as well as indirect profits (add-on non-infringing sales of other works that may have been caused by the sale of the infringing work). For example, if I sell you pirated software plus a "service and war

  • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @02:51PM (#49659475)

    Slashdot is now sanctioning crimes and giving instructions on how to commit them?

        Someone might have a point about the wisdom of copyright law but there's no doubt that it *is* against the law.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not a fan of the pro-piracy slant of Slashdot posters and moderators (editors, I think, try to be neutral).

      But TFA actually seems like an anti-piracy blog. Not clear whether the submitter is the blog author, although the names are similar.

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      How is this any different to a newspaper reporting on, say, increased drug dealing in a named part of london? "But people are going to go there and buy drugs now they've read about it in the paper". Yes, but they were already doing that.

      I wonder how a law which tried to prevent such reporting - assuming said interference of the state was legal and desirable - would look, and how it would differ from censorship performed in more embarrassingly run countries.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Only if the person is in a country that recognizes those copyrights.

      Being against the law never stopped the media industry before. Hollywood came into existence because they ran to someplace out of reach of the copyright holders on the east coast. The entire industry was and still is built on pirating. Even Frozen is a rehash of an extremely old book. If they're not going to respect other works I'm not going to respect them.

      • Hollywood came into existence because they ran to someplace out of reach of the copyright holders on the east coast.

        As I understand it, Hollywood was built on escaping Thomas Edison's patents, not copyrights.

        Even Frozen is a rehash of an extremely old book.

        Disney's Frozen is inspired by an H. C. Andersen short story older than 95 years. "The Snow Queen" first appeared in New Fairy Tales, published in 1845. The same is true of Disney's The Little Mermaid, based on an Andersen story from 1837. Or were you referring to Adam Green's Frozen (2010) [wikipedia.org]?

        If they're not going to respect other works I'm not going to respect them.

        Disney respected Andersen by giving him and his heirs the requisite 95 years to make money from his story.

        • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

          Disney respected Andersen by giving him and his heirs the requisite 95 years to make money from his story.

          That's an awfully nice way of framing the fact that Disney routinely poaches ideas from the public domain, while simultaneously lobbying to extend copyright terms so that no Disney work will ever fall into the public domain. Mickey Mouse is 87 years old now, but no one else will be allowed to use him when he's 95, or when he's 120. By then they'll have bribed enough lawmakers to codify the Constitution's "limited Times" as being "limited" to the existence of the company and its successors, assignees, and re

  • I would have thought that the original author must have had DRM on the original copy of the ebook, and yet these pirate copies also have DRM.

    So what happened here? Did the original author not use DRM on the original book, or did the pirate break the DRM so that they could distribute?

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @03:29PM (#49659731)

      You are aware that every form of ebook DRM is completely broken and serves no purpose other than to annoy legitimate purchasers, right?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's non-interactive media, and PRINTED (text) MEDIA to boot. All they had to do DRM or not, was simply catch the framebuffer at some point while it was displaying the ebook to the user. Then run the captures through a OCR [wikipedia.org] program to get the text data. Then just take that text data and any images that were in the ebook, edit them if needed, and dump it all into the ebook format of their choice with whatever DRM they chose to use.

      They could also use a DLSR to capture hardcopy books manually (or a scanner if

      • Uh that's way too much trouble. For all the formats I've had issues with someone wrote a nifty program to strip the drm and transcode it. Happened to me for a few ebooks I'd bought from a platform that died and then I couldn't auth them on my iphone.
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @03:30PM (#49659739)

    As a regular YouTube uploader and "Channel Partner", I often find my videos have been copied and re-uploaded (with monetization) by "pirates".

    There are now obviously scripts out there that can be run to automatically create a new channel which consists of nothing but re-uploads of other people's popular videos.

    On countless occasions I have laboriously filled out YT's copyright complaint form, listing a dozen or more instances where a single channel has pilfered my hard work. I always get the standard response "the offending content has been removed" -- but the channels are often still operating. What happened to the "three strikes" for copyright infringement?

    And just as importantly... since *my* videos were clearly being leveraged by someone else to generate revenue... what happens to that money?

    I bet Google still charges the advertiser but no doubt they won't be paying the pirate -- so do they just pocket this money without the need to pay a share to the genuine copyright holder? It would seem so.

    This probably explains why they have made NO EFFORT at all to circumvent these script-created channels that contain nothing but other people's content re-uploaded in clear violation of YouTube's Terms of Service.

    What an earner for Google -- no wonder they don't bother enforcing their "three strikes" policy on channels for which they effectively get to keep *ALL* the ad revenues and no wonder they don't flag (for inspection) new channels which suddenly appear and upload several hundred videos within 24 hours.

    Do no evil? Yeah... right!

    • enable your channels 3rd party block there videos will get auto flagged granted clever pirates can get around that to but it will stop most of the noobs.
  • by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @04:23PM (#49660033)

    I didn't know this would actually work. Now /. has given me the idea I'll try it out and see if someone is really stupid enough to buy an ebook instead of downloading it from usenet / bittorrent / mobilism / ...

  • Lawsuit (Score:4, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @06:06PM (#49660519) Homepage

    There seems to be a required step missing: filing a lawsuit against the infringing publisher. If they're selling the books (as opposed to giving them away free), the kind of volume described should amount to enough money to make a lawsuit feasible. And once you have a John Doe lawsuit filed, based on the initial evidence (as described it should be trivial to provide in the complaint a list of books you hold the copyright on that this publisher is publishing without authorization) you can justifiably ask Google in a subpoena for information pointing to the real identity of the publisher. If money's involved Google has some sort of real financial information about the defendant, otherwise they couldn't send the defendant their money. Google may blow off demands that just make a claim, but they won't just ignore a subpoena that lays out Play store items from this publisher matched to your copyright registrations for those items.

    Consider a regular bookstore. If you walked in and said "I hold the copyrights to those titles over there, and that publisher is pirating them.", what do you think the reaction of the bookstore would be? My guess is it'd be along the lines of "The publisher claims they're not. If you want us to stop doing business with that publisher, come back with a court order.". Your claims, however well-founded, aren't a legal determination, and the bookstore or even the distributor aren't the ones in our system charged with making that legal determination. It may suck, but consider the flip side: the publisher replies with a claim that they do have a contract with you and you're just trying to weasel out of it. Which would you rather do: argue the point once in front of a judge, or try to prove the absence of a contract to every single bookstore and distributor out there?

  • Thanks to Google's indifference, the pirates can continue to sell ebooks no matter how many times copyright holders might complain. If Google takes a pirated ebook down in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates simply upload another copy of the same title.

    If you pirates to stop distributing your works, you need to go after the pirates. Google is not your mommy. It won't kiss you and make everything all right.

    DMCA requires platforms to take down very specifically identified infringements. The same work upl

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday May 10, 2015 @11:56PM (#49661945)

    Thanks to Google's indifference, the pirates can continue to sell ebooks no matter how many times copyright holders might complain. .... If Google takes a pirated ebook down in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates simply upload another

    Interesting... and woefully inconsistent with how Google handles copyright in other places.

    One alleged copyright violation; innocent or not, on Youtube, and your account is crippled, you lose the ability to post videos more than 5 minutes and a bunch of other things.

    Two strikes, and they take your channel down and ban you for a few weeks.

    Three strikes, and you're gone forever.

    All 3 strikes can be received from one video, or in a short period of time, for example when Microsoft goes back and starts randomly posting copyright strikes against anyone that posted videos mentioning Windows 8.

    And there is no recourse..... your only way out is if the MPAA or RIAA or whoever was responsible for the strike decides to retract it.

    On the other hand... Google play is fast and loose on copyright and just lets the real bad guys re-upload blatantly pirated books, really??

    • That's what Google *claim* but, as I mentioned in a previous post, there are some channels against which I've filed up to a *dozen* copyright complaints against and they're still there -- still carrying content for which they do not have copyright (ie: stuff from other channels they've downloaded and then re-uploaded without permission.

      They seem *VERY* selective about when they actually enforce their copyright strikes in my experience.

      Here's another of the script-generated channels that are being created by

      • Where's the "three strikes" policy now?

        Let me answer that with a question: where are the three strikes? Can you cite me the court case(s) where a judge has ruled that infringement has occurred?

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Never said they were 100% consistent.

        That's what Google *claim* but, as I mentioned in a previous post, there are some channels against which I've filed up to a *dozen* copyright complaints against and they're still there

        Have you considered the possibility that, since you're not Microsoft, Sony, or BMG, and you've filed more than 2 or 3 complaints, that their systems might have automatically made a decision that the reports are suspicious as possible spam / not to listen to your complaints, esp. if a

  • That should be very, very clear even to the dumbest person by now. The only thing that can be done is make sure content is good enough that enough people are willing to pay the legitimate author for it. That is actually quite enough, all the publishers and distributors are basically parasites these days, and something like 1000-5000 people that pay the author for the content are quite enough to get the author a reasonable income. Copyright infringement does not matter from that point onwards.

    Monopolistic st

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, spend a year writing a book.

      Get 1000 people to pay you $5 for it.

      That is more than enough income for a year!

      Content creators are such schmucks. They deserve to be screwed.

    • I'm all for reducing the penalties for copyright infringement when there's no profit motive involved. For example, someone downloads a movie via BitTorrent and shares that movie out. Mind you, I still think there should be penalties, but the $750 - $150,000 per infringement seems too high.

      This case, however, is one where people are intentionally selling books that they don't own the rights to sell and not paying the legitimate author. This is piracy purely for profit and can snag people who think these a

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        I agree on that one. Selling works without authorization should get you full damage caused plus triple damages, all paid to the authors that were ripped off. The problem here is that this competes with legitimate offerings by the authors themselves. Incidentally, that is what copyright was created for: To prevent piracy by publishers. No other reason.

    • You're a jerk. How would you like someone to come into your place of work and take 20,30, 50, or even 90% of your revenue. Then for grins, they would accuse you of trying to monopolize your own work. Yeah. That's the ticket. That guy wouldn't let us steal his car so we're going to call him a monopolist. And that girl? She's trying to monopolize her body parts by not letting us have sex with her.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        You are stupid. You do not even understand the question here. No wonder you spew bullshit. Ownership of data is non-implementable if said data is distributed even to some degree. As an artist you live and die by the good-will of your customers. DRM, stupid legislation, the belief that you "own" your works and have a right to "control" them, etc. are all good ways to lose that good-will. The only thing you own with a digital work you created is the moral right to be identified as its creator. Anything else i

  • Do you remember that one time when someone found a trivially obvious way to abuse Google services to do something harmful, and Google took complaints seriously and addressed the problem?

    I don't either.

    Last I checked, it was still really easy to make a Google Group to use to send spam to people, but block them from sending complaints through the documented interface, because why would anyone at Google care?

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