Amazon, Lee Child & John Grisham Win $7.8M Default Judgment In Ebook Piracy Lawsuit
Amazon Content Services, Penguin Random House, and a group of Authors Guild members that includes John Grisham and Lee Child have been awarded $7.8 million in statutory damages in a default judgment against a group of ebook piracy websites operating from the Ukraine for 52 acts of copyright infringement.
The operators had failed to failed to answer a July 2020 lawsuit claiming they had pirated the ebooks for sale across multiple websites, including domains such as Kissly.net, Libly.net, Wtffastspring.bid, and Cheap-Library.com. Judge Marsha Pechman, senior district judge for the Western District, awarded the plaintiffs $150,000 per copyright infringement on December 20, 2021 — the maximum legal penalty under US law.
The defendants said to have owned and operated the websites, Ukrainian nationals Rodion Vynnychenko and Artem Besshapochny, did not respond to the motion for a temporary restraining order.
“We could not be happier with the decision,” Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild, in a statement. “Authors rarely have the necessary resources to fight commercial-scale piracy and take on protracted litigation, so we are extremely grateful to Amazon Publishing and Penguin Random House for their collaboration on this action.”
While the dollar amount of damages is high, Judge Pechman’s court order found that the size of the global piracy scheme, the defendant’s responses, and the “seriousness of the misconduct” all added up to justify the damages as a reasonable amount.
“The judge’s order sends a clear message that piracy will not be tolerated and bad actors will be held accountable,” said Mikyla Bruder, Head of Amazon Publishing. “We are grateful to the Authors Guild and Penguin Random House for their collaboration in bringing Kiss Library to justice and protecting authors’ rights.”
Other authors on the list of plaintiffs alongside Child and Grisham? Sylvia Day, C J Lyons, Doug Preston, Jim Rasenberger, T J Stiles, R L Stine, Monique Truong, Scott Turow, Nicholas Weinstock, and Stuart Woods.
A permanent injunction has also been issued against Vynnychenko and Besshapochny, as well as parties acting in conjunction with them.