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Journalists accused of copyright infringement for talking about it

We’ve grown used to the fact that copyright lobby groups making strange claims of infringement on file lockers and search engines, as simply linking to copyright protected content or not doing enough to stop said content from being posted on your site is enough to get you in trouble with not only these groups, but the authorities themselves. It gets worse though, as journalists in Germany are now being accused of helping facilitate piracy by interviewing the owner of a prominent ebook pirate site.

The publication in question is Der Tagesspiegel, who’s reporter Kolja Mensing, spoke with the owner and founder of Boox.to, a Tor utilising, free book distribution service that has no permission from any publishers to do so. It’s huge too, if the official figures are to be believed: over 1.5 million books are downloaded from there every month.

The thing is, it’s not turning a profit. The site’s operators don’t use adverts, but instead donations to keep the servers running and therefore, feel quite justified in describing themselves as a charitable organisation.

“I say it openly: we are not interested in the legal opinion of German publishers,” the site owner said, via TorrentFreak. “We see ourselves as a supplier in the market, such as Amazon and bookstores.”

With that many books being downloaded, this site has to be doing something that the other publishing houses aren’t, even if the books are free

But here’s where it gets interesting. It wasn’t these quotes, or the comparisons that annoyed German publishers, but the fact that the press named the site’s URL in the article. They were so mad in-fact, that they filed a criminal complaint against Der Tagesspiegel and another site that had republished the article, suggesting that by linking to Boox they had aided copyright infringement.

Imagine the laughter at the headquarters’ of these publications, when it was discovered that the German publishers had also at a different time, put the name and the URL of Boox online. 

“There was just laughter and tears,” a Der Tagesspiegel spokersperson said. “The criminal complaint was publicly dumped during the first few hours. The criminal complaint itself was made as a matter of principle without any prospect of success in a German court room.”

These might not be the last publishers annoyed by Boox though, as the site has big plans. It’s going to open up internationally, supporting languages from all over the world. 

Kitguru Says: As an author, I’ll say it now, if you read my book, I don’t care how you got it. Borrow it from a friend, buy it, torrent it, whatever – just read it. That’s reward enough for me.

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