The UK’s biggest ebook seller has been fined £3.5m over a breach of copyright
A publishing house that helped millions of people download books has been ordered to pay £3,521,000 in compensation to copyright owners.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced the decision at the start of this month after the Crown Procter and Gamble (CPG) publishing house breached copyright by allowing ebook downloads of books and films that did not comply with its terms and conditions.
The CPS said the breach occurred in the summer of 2017, when the firm sent millions of ebook downloads to its customers through a website called bookdownload.co.uk, which was owned by a third party.
The firm’s actions “did not appear to be authorised by the author, publisher or copyright owner” in relation to the books and movies, it said.
In a statement, CPG said it “regrets any offence was committed”.”CPG was fully aware of the risks of allowing unauthorized downloads to take place and we took immediate steps to ensure that we did not facilitate this activity,” the company said.CPG said that although the breach did not involve books or films, it was “concerned about the risks posed by unauthorized downloads of these materials”.
“It is CPG’s intention that this matter will be referred to the courts and that action will be taken in due course,” the statement added.
“Cpg will also be undertaking an internal review of its policies, procedures and processes for the management of third-party book and film downloads.”
The Crown’s announcement comes as ebook piracy is rising across the UK.
The number of legal downloads of the UK’s top-selling ebook books rose by 30 per cent in the second quarter of this year to 1.1 million copies, according to the ebook industry body, the e-book distributors association (EDIA).
“I think it’s clear that the ebook market has reached a tipping point,” said Mark Price, a former chief executive of the Booksellers’ Association of Great Britain (BGA).
“It’s a market that is very competitive and very big.
It’s not just about the number of downloads.
It needs to be about the quality of those downloads, and I think we’re starting to see some companies are starting to think about that.”
The rise in legal downloads follows the introduction of ebook prices, which are set at a lower rate than those of other books and include a free ebook discount, a range of price promotions and other discounts.
Citing the rise in piracy, Mr Price said it was clear that “the ebook market is a marketplace that is dominated by big corporations and they have been trying to make money for themselves”.
“The ebook market now is a market where the big players are beginning to realise they need to make a bigger effort,” he said.
“It just seems to me that the biggest companies are now beginning to pay a bit more attention to the quality and the value of their products.”‘
This is not just a case of publishers’ but publishers’ copyright issues’Mr Price said the legal sector’s response to piracy had been inadequate.
“If we’re going to address the problem, we have to start to address this is not only a case