The entertainment industry is rife with piracy, but e-books have been slightly immune. Statistically they account for less than 25% in the United States and 69% of e-book owners said they have purchased all of the books in their collection. Google Play Books has been a notable cesspool, with hundreds of fake publishers and pseudo authors uploading thousands of pirate books. Things got so bad on Play Books that Google shut down their registration system so no new publishers could sign up. Well, things might get a whole lot worse for Google because they have been ordered to hand over the personal details of a user who published pirated e-books, a Dutch court has ruled. The information was requested by anti-piracy group BREIN, working on behalf of a local book publishers’ organization.
This saga first started a few months ago when BREIN petitioned Google to remove some e-books that were being pirated by a user by the name Flamanca Hollanda of Dragonletebooks. Google was accommodating and removed the offending books, but refused to disclose the users information without a court order. Well, the Dutch Publishers Association and BREIN presented their case and yesterday a The Hague Court ruled that Google must hand over the personal details tied to the Google Play account as well as the Google account that was used to sign up.
The court further concluded that in this case the rights of copyright holders outweigh other rights, such as freedom of expression. Google will now be forced to give out the data, which includes the IP-address, home address, names, emails and bank account information, even if the person resides outside the European Union.
When Google hands over the user data and if the offending party is outside of the Netherlands, it might set a precedent for the Dutch Publishers Association and BREIN to go after anyone who has posted pirate e-books on Google Play and have been monetizing it.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.