2. Printed books are pirated copies

Netherlands: eBook retailers are supposed to reveal customer data

Book distributors take action against pirated e-books. The methods are questionable, however.

Book publishers in crisis


Book publishers and dealers are not having an easy time of it at the moment: The printed works business is declining more and more. Instead, readers are increasingly turning to eBooks and eBook readers. Consequence: bookstores go bankrupt in series; Big companies like Thalia are also feeling the crisis and have to close branches.

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In addition, eBooks are spreading very quickly. Reason: A book with a DRM copy protection is cracked in a few minutes thanks to the appropriate tools that are available on the Internet and then ends up on relevant portals through which users can download pirated eBooks. This makes it possible to read current bestsellers for free without any problems - often immediately after publication.

The starting point of every pirated eBook is a user who removes the copy protection from the book and then uploads it to an exchange platform or a file sharer. And it is precisely this person - the “main culprit” - that the authorities want to get at. In the Netherlands, therefore, rigorous action will be taken against the polluters in the future.

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Forced storage of customer data


As the portal “lesen.net ”reports, the e-book service provider“ eBoekhuis ”(to be compared with large book logistics companies like“ Libri ”in Germany) wants to oblige all e-book dealers to transfer the data of their customers in the event of a copyright infringement to forward the organization "BREIN". BREIN is an anti-piracy agency that acts against copyright infringements on behalf of musicians, writers and filmmakers.

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eBoekhuis requires data to be passed on


If a pirated book turns up, the e-book retailer should compare its database and determine which original purchaser of the e-book has made the work available for illegal download. In the Netherlands this is relatively easy because many publishers there use what is known as soft DRM and, for example, only watermark eBooks or include buyer data in the file. If a pirated eBook can be clearly assigned to a buyer on the basis of these characteristics, his data should be sent to BREIN and the investigating authorities. According tolesen.net, eBoekhuis wants to oblige all of its customers to take these measures by contract. The obligation provides, among other things, that the eBook platforms keep their customers' data for a minimum of two and a maximum of five years.

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Dealers are critical


The project has met with criticism from dealers. In their opinion, the state judiciary will initially be circumvented in the procedure sought by eBoekhuis. In addition, according to a spokesman for the platform e-webshops.be, eBoekhuis is putting too much pressure on retailers. Reason: Those who do not sign the contract are no longer allowed to sell eBooks with soft DRM from eBoekhuis.

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Do measures really make sense?


Even if the measures that the book industry is taking or intending to take against pirates are understandable, they are probably anything but effective. Because every honest buyer who legally purchases an eBook must expect that his data will be stored for years. This is also the case for users of platforms that are also popular in Germany, such as Amazon's Kindle bookshop, which constantly scans the user behavior of its customers. Consequence: In order to evade control, more and more bookworms will in future get their "material" via file sharing networks - and download eBooks without DRM and guaranteed data storage and tracking.