Book Piracy

Google Sued by Big Publishers for Pirated eBooks

Four major educational publishers have filed a lawsuit against Google. They accuse the tech giant of promoting pirated eBooks through its advertising platform. McGraw Hill, Cengage Learning, Elsevier, and Macmillan Learning allege that Google’s actions have caused significant harm to their businesses and violate copyright laws.

Google Ignored Infringement Notices, Advertises Unauthorized Textbooks

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York. It claims that Google has consistently ignored infringement notices and continued to display ads for unauthorized copies of textbooks. The publishers argue that this practice not only damages their sales but also misleads students who may unknowingly purchase inferior or incomplete materials from illegitimate sources.

According to the complaint, Google’s handling of infringement reports has been grossly inadequate. The publishers claim to have submitted numerous notices identifying thousands of infringing ads, only to have their concerns dismissed or inadequately addressed. In some cases, Google allegedly threatened to cease reviewing infringement notices altogether for extended periods.

Legal Sellers Restricted from Advertising Digital Books

The lawsuit further asserts that Google’s policies create an unfair marketplace. According to the complaint, the company restricts legitimate sellers from advertising standalone digital books on its shopping platform while allowing pirated versions to be promoted. The publishers argue that this imbalance effectively turns the textbook market “upside down.”

Lawsuit Could Have Implications for Tech Companies and Copyright Infringement

The case highlights the ongoing struggle between content creators and tech platforms in the digital age. With Google’s dominance in online advertising—generating over $300 billion in annual revenue—the outcome of this lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for how technology companies handle copyright infringement issues.

Supporting the publishers’ stance, Mark Bledsoe, general counsel for educational materials provider VitalSource, emphasized the need for Google to implement fair policies and effective anti-piracy measures. He stressed the importance of protecting students from fraudulent vendors and ensuring access to authentic, affordable educational resources.

Need For Regulations in Digital Advertising

As the case unfolds, it may prompt broader discussions about tech giants’ responsibilities in policing their platforms for copyright infringement. It also points out the potential need for stricter regulations in the digital advertising space. The lawsuit seeks to remedy the alleged harm caused by Google’s practices and could potentially reshape the landscape of online advertising for educational materials.

Publishing Perspectives – Porter Anderson – June 5, 2024

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