Online Piracy

2010 saw a 50% increase in online book piracy over the previous year, including millions of search queries a day for pirated e-books. Such piracy is an increasing threat to growth and innovation in the entire publishing industry. Here you'll find a summary of current legislation concerning book piracy and copyright law, along with resources for publishers and links to key articles and reports on the topic.

The AAUP is also represented in the AAP's Online Piracy Working Group, a forum for member trade, educational, professional publishers to discuss and collaborate on strategies to combat the online piracy of books, journals, and other projects.

Current Issues and Legislation | Resources | Articles and Reports

Current Issues and Legislation

Recent legislative efforts have shown that legislators are aware of the increasing threat of infringement, and are working to find solutions that can support both copyright and innovation.

Federal Anti-Piracy Legislation

Many recent legislative efforts have sought a more efficient response of the justice system to online copyright infringements. Neither 2010's Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) nor 2011's Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were passed, but all reflect a continuing evolution of proposed legislation that may continue in future sessions. The bills seek to stop search engines and third-party vendors from listing and working with "rogue sites," while allowing room for the continued innovation of legitimate tech companies.

Department of Commerce Policy Recommendations

In November 2010, the US Department of Commerce released a Notice of Inquiry concerning the challenges of protecting copyrighted works online and the relationship between copyright law and innovation. The Notice closed in December and the Department is expected to release a policy paper soon.

Homeland Security Website Seizures

Existing seizure provisions have allowed the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of Department Homeland Security to seize the domain names and financial assets of sites distributing counterfeit and copyright-infringing goods.

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A variety of services are available to help publishers track and take down pirated works. They include:

AAUP-R Listserv and Archive Page

Members frequently share sites of concern via the members-only AAUP-R rights listserv. Recent sites of concern are posted here on the AAUP-R Sites to Monitor page.

Copyright Infringement Portal

AAUP members are eligible for a discounted rate for the Copyright Infringement Portal, a service of the UK-based Publishers Association, which allows publishers to track pirated works with an automated search and respond to with takedown notices through an easy-to-use interface, cataloging repeat infringers in a project-wide database.


Attributor tracks and reports online piracy of copyrighted works, continuously scanning the web for infringing copies and proactively sending out takedown notices. Attributor has also released a series of studies on online piracy in publishing.


Covington & Burling, LLP, is an international law firm that has been devising and executing strategies to combat online piracy and fraud for nearly a decade, employed by several leading publishing houses.


MarkMonitor works with a variety of content providers, including many in the music and film industries, to protect content from piracy on peer-to-peer and other networks.

Peer Media

Peer Media Technologies works with entertainment, software, and publishing companies to protect against would-be pirates and facilitate takedowns on peer-to-peer networks.

Irdeto (formerly BayTSP)

Irdeto provides a variety of services to monitor the web for pirated materials and to facilitate takedowns, specializing in peer-to-peer networks but also tracking cyberlockers and other sources.

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Articles and Reports

"Foreign Rogue Sites That Earned $10 Million Annually from Copyrighted Content Shut Down by US Publishers and International Alliance"
by Andi Sporkin, AAP
February 15, 2012

"What Wikipedia Won't Tell You"
by Cary Sherman, The New York Times
February 7, 2012

"Steal This Column"
by Bill Keller, The New York Times
February 5, 2012

"Perpetual War: Pirates and Creators"
by Eduardo Porter, The New York Times
February 5, 2012

"U.S. Shuts Offshore File-Share 'Locker'"
by Geoffrey A. Fowler, Devlin Barrett, and Sam Schechner, The Wall Street Journal
January 20, 2012

"Congress, the White House, and the Myth of Free Security"
by Rick Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen
January 20, 2012

"The Morning After: Perspectives on the SOPA Debate"
by Sandra Aistars, The Copyright Alliance
January 19, 2012

"SOPA, PIPA, and the AAUP"
by Peter Givler, The Digital Digest
January 18, 2012

"Pirate Attitudes: SOPA, PIPA, and the Struggle to Control Digital Properties"
by David Smith, The Scholarly Kitchen
January 18, 2012

"Online piracy bill moves front and center"
by Guatham Nagesh and Brendan Sasso, The Hill
November 14, 2011

"Google's Piracy Liability"
by Scott Cleland, Forbes
November 9, 2011

"Internet Piracy and How to Stop It"
The New York Times
June 8, 2011

"Could Pirates Be Your Friends?"
by Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed
June 6, 2011

"Publishers Grapple With Thorny Issues of Protecting Property and Going Digital"
by Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 5, 2011

"Is Piracy Really the F**king Answer?"
by David Crotty, The Scholarly Kitchen
May 19, 2011

"AAP Statement on the PROTECT IP Act of 2011"
by Andi Sporkin
May 12, 2011

"Piracy Prevention 101"
by Regan Colestock, The Exchange
May 11, 2011

March of the Penguins: The New York Court of Appeals Expands Long-Arm Jurisdiction
by Andrew Berger, IP in BRIEF
March 25, 2011

What the powers-that-be think about DRM, and an explanation of the cloud
by Mike Shatzkin, The Idea Logical Company
January 16, 2011 

German Court Upholds Fines Against RapidShare
Publishers Weekly
December 2, 2010 

"Hunting "Rogue Sites": Federal Online Piracy Legislation"
by Regan Colestock, The Exchange
November 17, 2010 

"Report on Frankfurt Anti-Piracy Breakfast"
by Becky Clark, The Exchange
November 17, 2010 

"A First Look at Demand for Pirated E-Books Across the Web"
Attributor Blog
October 6, 2010 

"German court throws the book at RapidShare"
by Alex Pham, Los Angeles Times
February 24, 2010 

"Online Book Piracy Costs US Publishers Nearly $3 Billion"
Attributor Blog
January 14, 2010 

What does The Pirate Bay ruling mean for the web?
by Claudine Beaumont, The Telegraph
April 17, 2009 

"Pirates v. University Presses"
by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
February 18, 2009

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