French Publishers Cheer a Court’s Order to Block a Book Piracy Site

In News by Porter Anderson

Book piracy in France has taken a hit, with court action led by the SNE and 12 publishing companies against ‘Z-Library.’

In Paris, July 10, 2020. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Michael Watz

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also:
Italian Publishers: Book Piracy Cost €771 Million in 2021

’80 Million Pirated Items’

Today (September 19), an announcement from the French publishers’ association—the Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE)—signals a victory for French publishers in cases against piracy-facilitation sites drain revenue of many world markets’ book publishing industries.

A judgment was handed down in Paris on August 25, according to SNE and that court ruling has ordered Internet service providers to block the site (and associated domain names) of a piracy group called “Z-Library.” The result, according to the syndicate, is that 209 domain names and their extensions on mirror sites are being rendered inaccessible.

“Presenting itself ‘as a free library’ since 2009,” the publishers’ association says “but offering a paying model for access to counterfeit works, the Z-Library site—accessible via multiple addresses—offered access to more than 8 million books” across all editorial sectors “and 80 million pirated items.”

In initiating a legal action against the Z-Library site on June 29, the association worked with 12 publishing houses:

  • Actes Sud
  • Albin Michel
  • Cairn, Editis
  • Hachette Livre
  • Humensis,
  • Lefebvre-Sarrut
  • LexisNexis
  • Madrigall
  • Maison des Langues
  • Odile Jacob
  • Presses de Science Po

Our regular readers will recall that in late March, the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) and the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers (Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali, FIEG) reported that book piracy had cost the Italian book publishing industry €771 million (US$772 million) as well as an estimated 5,400 jobs.

Among the most alarming elements of that report, presented by Ricardo Franco Levi—AIE president, Federation of European Publishers vice-president, and Rome’s special commissioner for the 2024 Frankfurt Guest of Honor Italy program—was this line: “Daily in 2021, Italians carried out an average 322,000 acts of piracy of trade, university, and professional books, up 5 percent over 2019.”

‘This Collective Success’

This latest success for the publishers, the syndicate reminds us, follows a criminal conviction for counterfeiting in May 2021 for managers of another outfit, TeamAlexandriz, deemed by the courts to be pirating content.

Flushed with this success, the syndicate’s leadership now is considering new prerogatives entrusted to ARCOM—Autorité de régulation de la communication audiovisuelle et numérique, a regulatory agency in audio and digital communications—by way of looking to extend blocking of any link that redirects users to a replica of a site blocked by law.

“This collective success,” the French publishers’ syndicate writes in its media messaging today, shuts down at least these instances of an abiding and expensive impediment to doing business and to copyright protection, “and opens the way to new actions by the publishers and the Syndicat national de l’édition—blocking and de-referencing, quickly and systematically, against Web sites operating to defeat copyright protections.

“French publishing is investing massively to allow broad public access to digital books,” the publishers say in today’s announcement. “Book piracy undermines the remuneration of creators, both authors and publishers. It poses a threat to the entire book ecosystem, particularly booksellers, and harms cultural diversity.

“The SNE and the publishers,” they write, “are pleased that this book piracy enterprise has been sanctioned.

“The fight against book piracy is more than ever a priority for publishers and the SNE [renews its] mission to defend the interests of the entire profession.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on the French market is here, more from us on bookselling is here, more on digital publishing is here, more on copyright issues is here, and more on book piracy is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.