Ebook piracy in the UK has finally been policed properly. The UK High Court has demanded that UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as BT, Virgin Media, Sky, EE, and TalkTalk block sites where people can download illegally pirated eBooks. The action comes after a thorough campaign from the Publishers’ Association, who have long been concerned that their earnings are being threatened by the black market.

Which eBook piracy websites are involved?

The biggest sites listed were: AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre Ebookee, Freebookspot, Freshwap, and LibGen. Between them, they offer over 10 million free eBooks, around 80% of which are copyright infringements.  The Publishing Association made a good case for the fact that an Internet Service Provider would be able to tell whether one of their customers had downloaded a copyrighted work and had a duty to protect that copyright.

How does eBook piracy make money?

Today, eBook sales form an ever-larger part of an author’s revenue, and their rights and earnings need to be protected. Although the downloads on the pirate sites themselves are free, the sites make money from charging advertisers for space on the webpages. In other words, not only is the author losing out on the sale, the pirate sites actually make money from them via advertising. Obviously, this is grossly unfair and it also represents a lost VAT payment, as all eBooks are VAT-able in the UK. Finally, something has been done to wipe out eBook piracy in the UK.

What does this mean for authors?

This is a real break-through for all authors. Previously, authors and publishers had to issue individual take-down requests to websites when they saw an eBook pirated. These notices were often ignored or acted upon but then somehow, the title would mysteriously go live on their site again. Now the pirates are being cut off at source, giving all authors in the UK the confidence to publish in eBook form.

Find out more about publishing in eBook format here.

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