The Educational Publishers Enforcement Group (EPEG) publishers, consisting of Cengage, Elsevier, Macmillan Learning, McGraw Hill and Pearson, have obtained a Preliminary Injunction from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against 63 eBook websites that sell illegal, unlicensed eBooks using the functionalities of Google and Microsoft. EPEG publishers filed suit for copyright and trademark infringement against these websites on August 12, 2020, and on the same date obtained a Temporary Restraining Order that required the immediate shutdown of the infringing activity on these websites, as well as the cessation of the services that support the illegal websites. Through the Preliminary Injunction, that injunctive relief has now been extended through the pendency of the litigation. This is the third suit since November 2019 that EPEG publishers have brought against pirate eBook websites, and the third time they have successfully obtained a Preliminary Injunction.
Like the two prior lawsuits, the current lawsuit states that the operators of the pirate eBook websites pay Google to place prominent ads in response to searches for the publishers' legitimate content. The current case also involves the use of similar ads by some of the pirate websites on Microsoft's Bing search engine. The use of ads to sell infringing content runs counter to Google's and Microsoft's own policies and has led to an infestation of pirated eBooks for sale online. In addition to the veneer of legitimacy provided to these pirate websites by their seemingly legitimate Google and Bing ads, the websites rely on legitimate payment processors, domain hosts and other internet service providers, all of whom are required by the Court's injunction to stop facilitating the pirate websites' illegal activity.
The sale of pirated textbooks injures students, who do not receive legitimate copies of the products they seek to purchase. Piracy also causes publishers financial injury, creating a ripple effect impacting the ability to invest in the creation of new works and scholarly contributions that benefit education as a whole. EPEG publishers' enforcement efforts seek to stop online piracy and create a level playing field for those distributors and businesses that purchase and sell legitimate and licensed products.
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