College Students Left Scrambling As Online E-Book Piracy Website Gets Shut Down By Feds
A pair of Russian book bootleggers, whose massive free e-book library was sought after by college students who couldn't afford their textbooks, has been busted on piracy charges.
The Justice Department has charged 33-year-old Anton Napolsky and 27-year-old Valeriia Ermakova with copyright infringement, wire fraud, and money laundering charges for founding the Z-Library, which had approximately 11 million books and 84 million articles available for download. Both men were detained on November 3rd in Cordoba, Argentina. The feds promptly shut down Z-Library's 249 online domains around the time of the arrests.
Z-Library has had a 13-year run online. Established in 2009, the site held a massive collection of copyrighted books and articles that users could download for free. Those looking for additional resources could donate just $1 for a premium account on what was dubbed "the world's largest library,"
Though illegal, this resource was highly regarded amongst students on tight budgets whose studies required expensive reading materials. Chaithanya, a Z-library user studying to receive her Ph.D. at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in India, says that even her school's library does not always have the necessary textbooks. When she does find them for sale, one book can cost half of her monthly salary.
"We are just on our stipends. I was heartbroken when I heard they are shutting down Z-library," the young woman explained.
Josefina Espino, a Medill freshman, called the shutting down of Z-Library a "tragedy."
While prosecutors sympathize with scholars who have relied on this free resource, they refuse to excuse the scheme.
"The defendants profited illegally off work they stole, often uploading works within mere hours of publication, and in the process victimized authors, publishers, and booksellers," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace stated.
Amazon, whose self-publishing platform produces and sells millions of books by indie authors, is one of the corporations that assisted with the investigation. Google also helped by handing over email addresses associated with Napolsky and Ermakova.
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