By Jon Fingas
US law enforcement isn’t just interested in shutting down video pirates. The feds have charged two Russian nationals, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, for allegedly running the pirate e-book repository Z-Library. The site was billed as the “world’s largest library” and held over 11 million titles, many of which were bootleg versions stripped of copyright protections.
The pair was arrested in Cordoba, Argentina at the US’ request on November 3rd. The American government disabled and seized the public Z-Library site at the same time. Napolsky and Ermakova each face charges of copyright infringement, money laundering and wire fraud.
As TorrentFreakexplains, it’s not clear how central Ermakova and Napolsky were to Z-Library. While the indictments only cover activity starting in January 2018, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said the two had been running a pirate site for “over a decade.” Z-Library is still accessible on the dark web and responding to email.
The pirate bookshelf’s social media presence contributed to its undoing. Ars Technicanotes The Authors Guild complained to the Office of the United States Trade Representative after a “#zlibrary” hashtag started trending on TikTok, with over 19 million views. Students and other users were touting Z-Library as a way to get textbooks and other course material for free.
As with many pirate site shutdowns, this isn’t likely to be a permanent blow. The Authors Guild pointed to alternatives like Libgen when it filed its complaint, and Z-Library itself is carrying on in a limited form. It’s a high-profile victory for the anti-piracy camp, however, and suggests that other digital book pirates could face similar legal action.