French Publishers Cheer a Court’s Order to Block a Book Piracy Site

Book piracy in France has taken a hit, with court cases brought against “Z-Library” by the SNE and 12 publishers.

In Paris, July 10, 2020. Picture – Getty iStockphoto: Michael Watz

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also:
Italian publishers: Book piracy cost 771 million euros in 2021

“80 million pirated copies”

Today (September 19), an announcement from the French Association of Publishers – the National syndicate of the edition (SNE) – signals a victory for French publishers in cases against piracy relief sites that are depriving book publishers of many world markets of revenue.

According to SNE, a judgment was handed down in Paris on August 25, and that court ruling ordered internet service providers to block the website (and associated domain names) of a piracy group called “Z-Library”. The result, according to the syndicate, is that 209 domain names and their extensions are made inaccessible on mirror sites.

“Since 2009, the Z-Library site has presented itself as a ‘free library,’” says the publishers’ association, “but it offered a paid model for accessing counterfeit works and — accessible through multiple addresses — access to more than 8 million books. ‘ across all editorial divisions ‘and 80 million pirated copies’.

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When the lawsuit was filed against the Z-Library website on June 29, the association worked with 12 publishers:

  • File South
  • Albin Michel
  • Cairn, Editis
  • Hachette Livre
  • humensis
  • Lefebvre-Sarrut
  • LexisNexis
  • madrigal
  • Maison des Langues
  • Odile Jacob
  • Presses de Science Po

Our regular readers will remember that at the end of March the Association of Italian Publishers (Association Italiana EditoriAIE) and the Italian Association of Newspaper Publishers (Federazione Italiana Editori GiornaliFIEG) reported that book piracy has cost the Italian book publishing industry 771 million euros ($772 million) and an estimated 5,400 jobs.

Among the most alarming elements of this report, presented by Ricardo Franco Levi – President of the AIE, Vice-President of the Federation of European Publishers and Rome’s Special Commissioner for the Frankfurt Guest of Honor program Italy 2024 – was this line: “Daily in 2021, Italians average 322,000 pirated copies of trade, academic and reference books, up 5 percent from 2019.”

“This Collective Success”

This latest success for the publishers, the syndicate reminds us, follows a May 2021 criminal conviction for counterfeiting for managers of another company, TeamAlexandriz, which the courts deemed pirated.

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Surprised by this success, the Syndicate’s leadership is now considering new prerogatives entrusted to ARCOM –Authorité de regulation de la communication audiovisual et numerique, an audio and digital communications regulator – by attempting to broaden the blocking of links that redirect users to a copy of a legally blocked website.

“This collective success,” writes the French publishers’ consortium today in its media release, at least puts an end to these cases of permanent and costly disruption to business activity and copyright protection, “and opens the way for new actions by publishers and that National syndicate of the edition—Fast and systematic blocking and dereferencing of websites that aim to circumvent copyright protection.

“French publishing is investing heavily to make digital books accessible to a wide audience,” say the publishers in today’s announcement. “Book piracy undermines the remuneration of creators, both authors and publishers. It poses a threat to the entire book ecosystem, especially booksellers, and harms cultural diversity.

“The SNE and the publishers,” they write, “are pleased that this book piracy enterprise has been sanctioned.

“The fight against book piracy is more than ever a priority for publishers and the SNE [renews its] Mission to defend the interests of the entire profession.”

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More from Publishing Perspectives in the French market is here, more from us about the book trade is here, more about digital publishing is here, more about copyright issues is here, and more about book piracy is here.

You can find out more about the coronavirus-COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing here.

About the author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a Non-Resident Fellow of Trends Research & Advisory and was named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously Associate Editor for The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson has been a senior producer and anchor at, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute) he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for writers now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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