A federal judge in Washington has issued a default judgment against a major overseas e-book piracy operation known as the KISS Library after the operators of the site failed to answer a lawsuit filed in July, 2020 by the Authors Guild, Amazon Publishing, Penguin Random House, and a number of authors. In addition to a permanent injunction barring the service from operation, the court also awarded the plaintiffs the maximum amount of damages under the law, totaling some $7.8 million.
According to court filings, two Ukrainian nationals, Rodion Vynnychenko and Artem Besshapochny, created and operated Kiss Library through a variety of websites and domains to offer pirated copies of literary works. And though the court found that defendants were ultimately served, they did not participate in the lawsuit and "used a series of ruses to hide their identities and avoid both detection and accountability" for their actions.
"Plaintiffs are entitled to an entry of default judgment," judge Marsha Pechman thus concluded, "and a permanent injunction in their favor." It is unclear, however, whether the plaintiffs will find a way to collect on the damages awarded, or ensure that the defendants do not resume their illegal activities using other identities.
The default judgment comes after Pechman granted a sweeping preliminary judgment in September, 2020. The case was first filed suit on July 8, 2020, after after the plaintiffs identified the KISS library operation as "a particularly egregious" piracy enterprise.
"Authors rarely have the necessary resources to fight commercial-scale piracy and take on protracted litigation, so we are extremely grateful to Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House for their collaboration on this action," said Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild, in a statement announcing the default judgment. " We are thrilled that the Court quickly grasped the facts and granted us each of our requests—imposing the maximum financial penalty, shutting down all Kiss-related domains, and sending a pointed message to pirated content websites.”
Mikyla Bruder, head of Amazon Publishing, said the order sends "a clear message that piracy will not be tolerated and bad actors will be held accountable."
Anke Steinecke, PRH’s chief legal officer, agreed. "We hope this verdict serves as a wake-up call to all websites and search engines that regularly fail to enforce DMCA takedown notices," Steinecke said. "We will continue to work with our authors, the Authors Guild, and other publishers to send the message that e-book piracy should not and will not be tolerated anywhere or under any circumstances.”
Named plaintiffs from the Authors Guild include its president Douglas 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.