Publishers Win High Court Support in Fight Against Infringement

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.

The High Court has today granted The Publishers Association’s application (under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988) for a blocking order against several UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

The blocking order applies to seven websites which have been found to contain substantial amounts of infringing content. AvaxHome, Ebookee, Freebookspot, Freshwap, Libgen, Bookfi and Bookre are all based overseas and have been infringing copyright on a massive scale.  

Within ten working days BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE will be required to block customer access to these websites.

Investigations undertaken by the PA found that over 80% of the material available on the sites (and in some cases over 90%) infringes copyright. Collectively the PA and its members have issued nearly one million take down requests to these sites in respect of their content.

In addition, rights owners have requested that Google remove from its search results over 1.75 million URLs which link to copyright protected material on these sites.

Between them the sites purport to hold around 10,000,000 ebook titles and have been making substantial sums of money, primarily through referral fees and advertising. None of this money has been going back to either the publisher or the author(s) of the works.

Whilst this is the first action of its kind brought by UK publishers, with the support of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the application for Section 97A orders is well established following cases involving the music and film industries.

The ISPs have been ordered to block access to similar websites containing infringing music and/or films and TV programmes.

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the PA, said:

A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.

We are very pleased that the High Court has granted this order and, in doing so, recognises the damage being inflicted on UK publishers and authors by these infringing websites.

Legal action such as this is just one part of the suite of activity the PA undertakes on behalf of its members. The PA operates a Copyright Infringement Portal, which allows members to issue take down notices to websites, and is involved in the City of London Police’s Operation Creative, run out of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

The PA also undertakes substantial enforcement activity internationally, helping its members protect their published works from physical piracy in countries such as China, India, Brazil and Turkey.

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