Publishers, Authors Allege E-Book Copyright Infringement

Amazon Publishing, publisher Penguin Random House and 12 authors sued defendants Kiss Library, et al. Tuesday for copyright infringement over the unauthorized sale of plaintiffs’ e-books on defendants’ websites. The lawsuit was filed in the Western District of Washington.

Specifically, the plaintiffs accused the defendants of “illegally copying, distributing, and selling works written or published by Plaintiffs.” Kiss Library claims to offer “a ‘premium selection’ at ‘unbeatable prices’ that ‘are hard to beat’” on its various e-book websites. However, the plaintiffs said Kiss Library and the other defendants can offer “unbeatable prices” because “its catalogs are replete with pirated ebooks, including titles for which Plaintiffs individually own and/or control exclusive copyrights in the United States.” Furthermore, the plaintiffs claimed that they have not authorized the defendants to engage in this conduct nor have they received any royalties from the use of their e-books.

The authors own the registered copyrights for their works and have granted certain exclusive rights to Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House, such as the exclusive right to publish and distribute, in exchange for royalties. The defendants’ various e-book library sites all allegedly carry the same unauthorized e-books. Consequently, Amazon Publishing and the plaintiffs state that the defendants are online e-book retailers selling pirated e-books.

For example, Amazon Publishing had the exclusive publication distribution rights to Fight Dirty by C.J. Lyons, however, it allegedly is and was sold by the defendants without a license on their websites. Additionally, Penguin Random House has the exclusive publication and distribution rights to Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War by T.J. Stiles, which Penguin Random House claims is or was sold by defendants without a license on their various sites. The plaintiffs said that the defendants “copy upload, display and distribute the Works without the copyright owners’ approval or a license from an exclusive rights holder.” They added that the defendants know that the works are copyrighted, for example through listing the publisher of that version of the work.

The plaintiffs accused the defendants of copyright infringement, as well as vicarious and contributory copyright infringement for their alleged conduct. The plaintiffs have sought to enjoin the defendants from further infringement; a declaratory judgment in their favor; to impound all digital copies of the infringing works; to disable the domain name or transfer the works to plaintiffs; to restrain all financial accounts operating by the defendants; for the defendants to provide the plaintiffs with a list of all accounting and sales for their works; an award for profits and losses; an award for costs and fees; and other relief as determined by the court.

The plaintiffs are represented by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.