A federal judge in Washington has issued a preliminary injunction against a major e-book piracy operation known as the KISS Library, after the operators of the site failed to answer a lawsuit filed in July by the Authors Guild, Amazon Publishing, Penguin Random House, and a number of bestselling authors.
The sweeping order effectively shuts down the operation in its current iteration, and seeks to block the defendants and any of their service providers—including payment processors, banks, ISPs, back-end service providers, and search engine or ad-word providers—from collaborating to distribute the plaintiff’s copyrighted works in the future.
"Despite having received notice of the hearing time, date, and call in numbers, Defendants did not appear at the hearing or file any response to Plaintiffs’ papers or the Court’s Order," the court noted in issuing its relief.
In addition to shutting down the affiliated sites, the court ordered expedited discovery in the case, and a temporary freeze on all assets and accounts connected to the operation. Financial institutions associated with the operation are now required to "immediately locate all accounts connected to Defendants or the Websites," and to stop funds from being transferred or withdrawn.
In a notable passage in her 10-page order, Judge Marsha J. Pechman acknowledged the difficulty in holding such online pirate operations accountable.
"Defendants have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, locations,and proceeds from Plaintiffs’ and this Court’s detection, including using multiple false identities and addresses associated with their operations and purposely-deceptive contact information," Pechman acknowledged. She also noted that "at least some of the Defendants are likely overseas," and that the defendants will likely "seek to destroy, move, hide, or otherwise make inaccessible the proceeds of their infringement, copies of infringed Works, and the Websites used to display and distribute those Works."
The order comes after the plaintiffs filed suit on July 8 in federal court in Washington State seeking to shut down the KISS Library, believed to be a Ukraine-based piracy site that operates under a number of different domain names using a sophisticated, legitimate-looking site designed to deceive consumers by selling illegally pirated e-books to U.S. readers.
“Over the last several years, we have worked through various channels to curtail the proliferation of e-book piracy sites, but KISS Library has been a challenge since it is a particularly egregious criminal enterprise,” said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, in announcing the suit. “While the main culprits are the KISS Library websites and operators, it doesn’t help that sites devoted to e-book piracy are readily available through U.S. search engines,” added Authors Guild president Douglas Preston.
Named plaintiffs from the Authors Guild include its president Preston, and 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.