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Tracking Down Book Copyright Pirates Overseas

Last month legal thriller writers John Grisham and Scott Turow wrote an opinion piece published in The Hill titled, “Online Piracy is a scourge on American authors—Congress Intervene.”

The article details the challenges faced by a consortium of authors in trying to stop the piracy of their books overseas. It urges Congress and Google to do more to shut down piracy domains. And for law enforcement to pick up the pursuit of book pirates, which authors just do not have the resources to do on their own.

The purpose of this post, however, is to give the reader an idea of the challenges in launching an overseas book-pirate investigation by briefly highlighting the specific investigative and legal steps the authors took to identify the pirates and hold them accountable.

The following are excerpts from the article.


“…the first hurdle our legal team faced was to identify and track down the perpetrators, who had covered their tracks through fake aliases and domain switching.

“Using legal and cybersecurity tools, our team followed the trail of digital crumbs to two individuals in Ukraine… 

“After identifying them, the team had to serve them with legal papers in Ukraine.

“By this point, aware of our efforts, the two were scrambling to destroy evidence and evade service. After a lengthy investigation… our Ukrainian counsel and investigators finally tracked the duo down. 

“[One defendant] …twice registered fake addresses with the Ukrainian government, forcing us to hire private investigators to uncover his true address, where he twice refused to accept the subpoena served by the Ukrainian government.

“The second defendant, claimed he was the subject of mistaken identity, even though the Ukrainian court found that he was “indeed the person” identified in the lawsuit, registered with the Ukrainian government under that name, and the evidence showed he already had a ruling against him for prior misconduct by the World Intellectual Property Organization. 

“Neither defendant showed up in court.


“The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found for the twelve author plaintiffs, Amazon Publishing, and Penguin Random House on all claims, awarding us $150,000 for each count of copyright infringement, the highest amount allowed by law, for a total of $7.8 million. 

“Pursuing payment of the award will likely present similar hurdles to the ones we faced in bringing the suit.”

*In view of current developments in Ukraine, pursuing payment appears to be a non-starter.


Google Should Ban Pirate Sites, Say Authors John Grisham and Scott Turow

DisclaimerIPProbe.Global is a service to the professional IP community. While every effort has been made to check information in this blog, we provide no guarantees or warranties, express or implied, regarding the content provided in IPProbe.Global. We disclaim all liability and responsibility for the qualification or accuracy of representations made by the contributors or for any disputes that may arise. It is the responsibility of the readers to independently investigate and verify the credentials of such persons and the accuracy and validity of the information provided by them. This blog is for general information only and not intended to provide legal or other professional advice.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

2 comments on “Tracking Down Book Copyright Pirates Overseas


    Good Job as usual
    Keep up thee good work
    Tom Manley special Agent FBI- Retired

  2. Pirate websites have a long history of being located outside of the United States but selling themselves to US visitors in a misleading manner that makes it difficult for consumers, including both consumers and companies, to identify an illicit site from a legitimate one.

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