Controversial piracy website OceanOfPDF returns

Controversial piracy website OceanOfPDF returns

OceanOfPDF.com, a website that was giving away pirated e-books, has returned under a .net domain name.

The site is offering copies of hundreds of books, including the entire Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, as well as books by Roald Dahl and Philip Pullman. Adult titles available include The Cider House Rules by John Irving and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juno Diaz.

It describes itself as an “index of books available online” and appears to be based in the US, saying its terms of use are construed in accordance with and governed by the laws of California and the United States and that the service is intended for use by individuals based in the United States of America.

It also advises anyone who wishes to complain about copyright infringement to contact smtebooks1@smtebooks.com, suggesting the site is affiliated to another e-book site, SMTE Books.

A spokesperson for Penguin Random House said the company took the protection of intellectual property and the threat of piracy extremely seriously and  would be "looking into this further".

Pan Macmillan, which publishes The Gruffalo in the UK, said: "We are working alongside Dial in the USA to get this taken down as it is the US publication that is flagged.

OceanofPDF hit the headlines earlier last month when writer Michelle Harrison found copies of her books on it via a Google alert, then warned other authors, who reacted with anger to the website.

“I was horrified to be able to download the book for myself in a matter of seconds," Harrison told The Bookseller at the time. "Normally these sites try to make you register or sign up, but this was immediate, there for the taking. I was even more shocked to discover that every single one of my books is listed there. The PDFs are not my publishers’ proofs, they’ve been re-set or retyped which shows the trouble they’ve gone to to do this.”

Scores of authors complained on social media and Pullman sent a tweet to @OceanofPDF saying: “Please show me the agreement you have with my publishers, or my agent, or me, which allows you to give my books away free.”

The website was then taken down towards the end of July, but has now popped back up again under a different name.

Ruth Burstall, a senior associate at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said if authors and publishers wanted to get books taken off the site they should try to identify the individual behind the website, then send a cease and desist letter, requesting undertakings to cease infringement (both in relation to the website in question and any other website) from that individual in their personal capacity," she said.

“If the individual continues to infringe using another domain name / website, the copyright owner will have a more straightforward claim for breach of the undertakings,” she said. “Another avenue to consider is making a complaint to PIPCU (the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit).”

The Bookseller did not receive a reply to a request for an interview sent to smtebooks1@smtebooks.com.