Why Ebook Portal Library.nu Differed From Other Filesharing Sites

from the paying-the-price dept

A couple of weeks ago the popular ebook portal Library.nu was shut down, apparently voluntarily, after a coalition of book publishers obtained an injunction against it and a similar site. As an excellent post on the kNOw Future Inc. blog points out, Library.nu was significant in a number of ways:

the demand for the works offered there demonstrates that filesharing is not just about pop music, porn and cams of action movies, but also those forms and sources of knowledge whose acquisition are ritually celebrated within ‘enlightenment’ culture.

The stereotypical downloader — young, and looking for easy entertainment online — was in part a function of what was available initially. The Library.nu site showed that fans of “high culture” were just as keen to obtain digital versions of their stuff as those with more “low-brow” tastes.

Many of those whose works were offered derive income not from royalties, but from related activities such as teaching and research. Such people were themselves an important component library.nu’ user base.

The first part means that the authors of those books wrote not for money, principally, but for other reasons — for example, prestige or influence. It was actually in their interests for their works to be circulated as widely as possible in order to enhance their reputation, and Library.nu made that possible. It’s not clear what evidence there is for the second sentence quoted above, but assuming it’s true, it would indicate that for some, at least, the Library.nu ethos was “share and share alike”.

The post concludes:

Some [of those downloading from Library.nu] have other means to access the same materials, others, especially those in countries with weaker education infrastructures and more emaciated library budgets, do not. Outside of formal education, the millions of online autodidacts may be denied access to material, seriously impinging on their lives and possibilities. When one considers the cost of text books and more especially scholarly articles, that is no hyperbole, and applies not only to the global south but the post-industrial north as well, awash in its dreams of knowledge economies and human capital.

That suggests two things. First, that publishers are missing out on a huge audience that is hungry for knowledge, but simply can’t afford text books, say, at current pricing. Once again, piracy is driven partly by a failure to serve the market properly.

The other point is that although publishers may rejoice that Library.nu has been taken down, readers around the world will suffer in terms of losing access to these works that they can’t afford. Some may say that’s just tough, or that these people should work harder or make greater sacrifices elsewhere in order to be able to afford such books. But in many locations, those books are not available legally at any price.

As a result, when sites like Library.nu disappear, there is a cost to society as a whole because of the knock-on effects of reduced information flow, and of practical knowledge that is unavailable for application as a result. In this respect, sites with large collections of digitized textbooks are quite different from those that are principally offering music or video downloads for entertainment.

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Comments on “Why Ebook Portal Library.nu Differed From Other Filesharing Sites”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I smell more justification here.

Glyn, let’s be fair. The numbers coming out in the Megaupload site deal just don’t match up with the spew that has been going on about the site for years, and there is no reason to think that this site is any different.

While there may be a component of users who are “high brow” or what have you, it is no different from the rare person using mega as a backup site or using bit torrent for linux updates. Yes, they exist, but they are such a small part of the game, it is misleading to key on them.

Mega? 90% of the users were pure downloaders, never uploaded a single thing. So how many users were using it only for a back up or only to work collaborative with remote people? A few, but certainly not enough to justify all the other stuff going on.

The researcher who wrote the blog certainly appears to have started out trying (like you) to justify illegal acts by pointing to the rare legal ones. It is a little to transparent, that is for sure.

Please – stop with the justification posts, they just make Techdirt look bad (and that takes some effort).

Anonymous Coward says:


Anyone who cares about knowledge realized by now that, they need to ignore the law.

It is that simple, if people want access to knowledge in any acceptable way, just don’t fallow the law because if you do, you will be excluded by the monopolies put in place to stop the spread of that knowledge or data and you want be able to use it for anything.

Richard (profile) says:


Mega? 90% of the users were pure downloaders, never uploaded a single thing. So how many users were using it only for a back up or only to work collaborative with remote people? A few, but certainly not enough to justify all the other stuff going on.

You think as man thinks – not as God thinks.
From Genesis 18

“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, which am but dust and ashes:

28Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

32And he said, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Someantimalwareguy (profile) says:


There are no monopolies in content. Get over it.

And what are the publishing gatekeepers then?

There is no censorship in content. Get over it.

And for those who cannot afford the inflated pricing, have no legal means to obtain the works in question, and who are only participating in downloading that which the AUTHORS (you know, the ARTISTS/CREATORS) of those works were trying to share with all who might be interested? How is putting barriers in front of education NOT censorship?

Can you please either make a valid point or get over it?

And would you please pull your head out of your rear-end and see that the current structure is entirely slanted towards the gatekeepers and profit over the betterment of mankind?

Anonymous Coward says:


Here now people will have to use email to share.

Zeropaid: How to Master Email Encryption By Hannah on February 9, 2012

Or they can use Retroshare 🙂

Also I hear that Scandinavian countries are positioning themselves to become a data storage hotspot in the world.
CNN: Scandinavian cold could create data storage hotspot by Juliet Mann and Neil Curry, CNN on February 24, 2012 owned by the
thieving Warner Bros Co.

BentFranklin (profile) says:

post-industrial north … awash in its dreams of knowledge economies and human capital

This phrase was particularly well-turned. All the fighting over IP is just a symptom of the decline in actually making things. The “service economy” is a joke. If I cut your hair today and you shine my shoes, tomorrow we’re both broke. The “knowledge economy” is even more abstracted from the base of added value through manufacturing. Since we don’t make things anymore, our aggregate net worth is declining, and all we can do is fight amongst ourselves for what’s left and distract ourselves with entertainment. And this is just the beginning…

Gwiz (profile) says:


“The records also indicate that only 5.86 million of these users ever uploaded a single file to either Megaupload.com or Megavideo.com, demonstrating that more than 90 percent of their registered users only used the defendants? systems to download.”

That 90% figure doesn’t mean anything really. Basically it means that one person was sharing with 9 others. That would be the about the average for a small business sharing work files with their peers.

Adding into the mix would be artists using Mega as a platform to earn money by driving downloads of their own works, which one would imagine to be at least a 1:1000 ratio or so.

I am still not sure why you think that figure is significant in any way.

Anonymous Coward says:


A monopoly would suggest a broad blockage over a large market segement. Say that the only phone provider in your neighborhood is a monopoly.

That your local store sells Coke and not Pepsi isn’t a “monopoly”, it is an exclusive contract between that store and that company, nothing more. It doesn’t create a monopoly, as you the consumer can go next door and buy Pepsi.

So no, there are no monopolies on books, movies, or music. Claiming that there is pretty much is a silly argument. Nobody is stopping you from making your own (or buying from another source).

Anonymous Coward says:


If there are a few innocent in a pool of criminals, they perhaps need to move to a new pool. If you live in a crack house, don’t be shocked if people think you deal crack, even if you don’t.

The few legit users exist mostly as a cover for the widespread illegal activity. The pirates will point to the legit people and say “see, our service is legit”. Effectively, they use the few legit users as a sort of human shield. It’s a wholly and obvious facade, nothing more.

hothmonster says:


“Let?s compare two pieces of property: a chair and a DVD.

When I buy a chair, I hand over money for which I get the chair and a receipt. This chair has been mass-produced from a master copy at some sort of plant. After the money has changed hands, this particular chair is mine. There are many more like it, but this one is mine. I have bought one of many identical copies and the receipt proves it.

As this copy of the chair is mine, exclusively mine, there are a number of things I can do with it. I can take it apart and use the pieces for new hobby projects, which I may choose to sell, give away, put out as exhibits or throw away. I can put it out on the porch and charge neighbors for using it. I can examine its construction, produce new chars from my deductions with some raw material that is also my property, and do whatever I like with the new chairs, particularly including selling them.

All of this is normal for property. It is mine; I may do what I like with it. Build copies, sell, display, whatever.

As a sidetrack, this assumes that there are no patents on the chair. However, assuming that the invention of the chair is older than 20 years, any filed patents on this particular invention have expired. Therefore, patents are not relevant for this discussion.

Now, let?s jump to what happens when I buy a movie.

When I buy a movie, I hand over money and I get the DVD and a receipt. This movie has been mass-produced from a master copy at some sort of plant. After the money has changed hands, this particular movie is mine. There are many more like it, but this one is mine. I have bought one of many identical copies and the receipt proves it.

Despite the fact that this copy of the movie is mine, exclusively mine, there are a number of things that I may not do with it, prohibited from doing so by the copyright monopoly held by somebody else. I may not use pieces of the movie for new hobby projects that I sell, give away, or put out as exhibits. I may not charge the neighbors for using it on the porch. I may not examine its construction and produce new copies. All of these rights would be normal for property, but the copyright monopoly is a severe limitation on my property rights for items I have legitimately bought.

It is not possible to say that I own the the DVD when viewed in one way but not when viewed in another. There is a clear definition of property, and the receipt says I own the DVD in all its interpretations and aspects. Every part of the shape making up the DVD is mine. The copyright monopoly, however, limits how I can use my own property.

This doesn?t inherently mean that the copyright monopoly is bad. It does, however, mean that the monopoly cannot be defended from the standpoint that property rights are good. If you take your stand from there, you will come to the conclusion that the copyright monopoly is bad as it is a limitation of property rights.

Defending the copyright monopoly with the justification that property rights are sacred is quite like defending the death penalty for murder with the justification that life is sacred. There may be other, valid, justifications for defending the copyright monopoly and these limitations of property rights ? but that particular chain of logic just doesn?t hold.”

I stole these words. But I fear you would focus too much on bashing the source rather than the content.

DannyB (profile) says:


> If there are a few innocent in a pool of criminals,
> they perhaps need to move to a new pool.

So the few innocent Linux users spend time and effort to invent a new protocol to replace BitTorrent. It is fast and very efficient for distributing very large files to a large number or people. Everyone happy.

Later, other people notice this new tool and recognize that it works equally well to distribute images of DVD’s as well as Linux images. They spend no effort on software development, they just download and use the tools others have created. Soon this new tool (like BitTorrent was originally) is being used for massive copyright infringement.

Soon the copyright maximalists generalize that all BitTorrent traffic is infringing. ISP’s should just shut it all down. Ditto for this new protocol and tool that Linux users develop — it should be shut down as well.

The problem with moving to a new pool is that others, perhaps unwelcome, move there too.

Ditto for tools like DropBox. A very handy tool to move legitimate files between your devices.

Anonymous Coward says:


” If the service is legit because a few users are legit, then the service is legit.”

The logic just doesn’t follow. Are you suggesting that a crack house with a single, non-crack addicted person in it should make it illegal for police to raid and shut down?

Are you suggesting that, because Mafia members also have children living in their homes and legit workers in their “social clubs” that these locations should be exempt from raids?

Are you suggesting that a pirate site with a single legit file on it is somehow suddenly a legit service?

Logical fail!

Chosen Reject (profile) says:


You are correct. It’s not normal as Gwiz pointed out. If an artist shares their song on Megaupload, it’d have to be a really crappy artist to get a 1 upload to only 9 download ratio. And when well known artists like P Diddy, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and Chris Brown share files on Megaupload, I’d say Gwiz’s estimate of 1:1000 is dismally low. So yes, 90% is not normal. I’m surprised it’s not more like 95% or even higher.

Gwiz (profile) says:


90% of the users of mega only downloaded, and NEVER uploaded. That just isn’t normal.

Normal as opposed to what exactly?

You also tend to leave out the part about incentives for driving downloads to content. Of course the number of downloaders would be greater than the number of uploaders.

I have no clue as to what percentage of the uses of the content were infringing and neither do you.

I still think you need to wait and see how many responses the EFF gets on this before you start spouting of silly numbers.

Anonymous Coward says:


A monopoly implies exclusivity to trade something, copyright gives exclusive rights and so it is a granted monopoly.

That is not difficult to understand is it?

Also not difficult to understand is the why nobody should be granted a monopoly or the right to exclude others from doing anything and that is the fact that limits others and will create friction, reduce availability and increase costs, in some cases some monopolies are beneficial and desirable but only when they occur naturally and are not mandated.

Anonymous Coward says:


It’s funny that you say:

If I cut your hair today and you shine my shoes, tomorrow we’re both broke.

My hair is cut and your shoes shined. If everything was like that, we wouldn’t need aggregate net worth.

All this worry about aggregate net worth…it’s like somehow that means anything. You do realize that money has no objective value, right? Even when we used the gold standard, the rock itself had no value.

You want to produce something? Go create the next generation of cultural producers and sharers (i.e., humans)…those are where we’ll derive our aggregate net worth.

Anonymous Coward says:

I would love to drive a Bentley but they are priced out of my budget. Perhaps someone can set up some service so that I can drive a Bentley for free. In fact I think the entire world is entitled to the experience of driving a Bentley. I don’t want to necessarily own it, just drive it. I won’t be taking anything, just borrowing it. This would improve my life and allow me to improve others lives by telling people about the experience.

I have some other experiences I would like to try as well. Since I won’t be keeping a physical copy of something, it should be free. My experiences will greatly improve my life and provide me the ability to share my experience with others and would therefor provide a benefit to society.

Benjo (profile) says:


Your whole argument for shutting down these sites and supporting massively stupid legislation is to stop casual infringement, and because you mistakenly feel that every download or file transfer on the internet = lost revenue for some publisher/studio/record label/business.

Or the misplaced moral high-ground. There are tons of (legitimate) companies that earned a huge share of the market by not really doing anything to fight piracy (Think Engineering CAD / Audio recording software). They realized that most of the people infringing were amateurs or students and realized there was an opportunity to lock these people in to their platform as they transition to industry.

As for entertainment, there have been tons of suggestions of ways to recapture some audiences who casually infringe (the only area where there might be reclaimed revenues). As for textbooks, its tragic how hard the publishers will fight what is best for students and academia in order to line their pockets for the next decade.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:


Copyright is a government granted monopoly to produce a specific work and block everyone else from copying it and making money off of it. Pretty sure Disney wouldn’t like WB to start pressing and distributing Cars 2 DVD’s, hell putting it up on the WB website for streaming. Stop trying to claim copyright isn’t a monopoly. That is just idiotic.

Stella Prince says:


you are wrong about library.nu. I’m an academcic, and all my academic friends used it. if you’d ever used the site you’d know it was predominantly very highbrow books. You seem to understand little of the topic, not have used the sity yourself and write purely on conjecture. The problem of lack of open access is a serious one for academic publishing – and yes, academics do NOT get paid anything for publishing books and articles, and yes, it is in their interest to have their material disseminated as widely as possible. Open access is not stealing – it is the publishers who are crippling access to knowledge, with detrimental consequences for everyone but them.

Anonymous Coward says:


And if enforcement continues to focus on the site rather than the illegal users were are the legitimate users suppose to go? Where ever legitimate stuff is hosted so is pirated content so maybe rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water law enforcement should do its job and actually arrest the criminals and not the 3rd party host.

Anonymous Coward says:


A monopoly (from Greek monos μόνος (alone or single) + polein πωλεῖν (to sell)) exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity.

Commodity is books, movies, music. Individual items cannot be a MONOPOLY, because there is no way to create another one like it. There is nobody shut out from the “Star Wars Movie Market” because there is only one Star Wars series.

You confuse exclusive with a monopoly.

Keep trying.

You can look up this if you need help explaining why you don’t get the difference:


Anonymous Coward says:


“because you mistakenly feel that every download or file transfer on the internet = lost revenue for some publisher/studio/record label/business.”

No, where the heck did I say that?

There is absolutely no direct relationship between decreasing piracy and increasing sales. All that decreasing piracy does is increase the POTENTIAL market.

If people really want the product, and they don’t have a freebie pirated download to get, they will either buy it,rent it, or live without it.

You don’t like the textbook market? Write your own. Keep them current. Print new versions on a regular basis. Try to deal with an inventory cycle that is about 350 days, and try to deal with a product that goes stale usually within a couple of years as the information in them gets OTBE.

I think the real tragedy is that you want education to be farmed out to whoever can do it the cheapest.

Anonymous Coward says:


No, there is one star wars movie because of copyright, which grants a limited time exclusivity to a single narrow story / movie. There is no monopoly on making space movies, or making movies in general. You are not forced to accept only this single space movie, nor are you movie viewing choices limited by this single protected work.

Your logic says that you have lost your freedom because we have property rights. You are not allowed to camp on your neighbor’s yard, because property rights say they can choose who camps there.

They have a MONOPOLY on their yard! Damn bastards!

John Fenderson (profile) says:


“No, copyright isn’t a monopoly.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard this asserted before. Anywhere. Not even amongst copyright scholars regardless of their opinion of copyright. Maybe because it’s completely wrong. The entire stated purpose of copyright is to create a limited-term monopoly as an incentive. The word “monopoly” has been used to describe copyright, even by the framers, from day one.

Anonymous Coward says:


“which grants a limited time exclusivity to a single narrow story / movie. There is no monopoly on making space movies, or making movies in general. You are not forced to accept only this single space movie, nor are you movie viewing choices limited by this single protected work.”

Please. Limited time, my ass. But lets not focus on that. It doesn’t limit exclusive right to that movie. It gives them an exclusive right to any individual part of the movie. So despite lightsabers being part of the public conscious for 30 years if I use anything remotely similar in my movie I risk them suing me for a part of my profits. They also own words like “droid” “jedi,” how long do you get to OWN a word before you call it a monopoly?




The own an entire universe that we grew up with and will continue to own it for the rest of our lives. They will throw a cease and desist at anything that even remotely resembles something from their universe. When you make the exclusive right last life+70years you are making it a monopoly.

Benjo (profile) says:


Again, you are talking about casual infringement, since there is no way to really prevent piracy without completely crippling the internet or removing all privacy.

Publishers have locked contracts with colleges and professors. They republish the calculus series books every year, and most of math hasn’t changed in a LONG time. Same goes for practically all arts and sciences. I can think of very few subjects (design, web design, some CS, Material sciences) where the subject material has changed significantly, and even then only in certain areas.

You don’t need new versions. What people would like is electronic copies. If that means major publishers go out of business so be it, since they are only in business due to horrible contracts and lobbying.

Keroberos (profile) says:


Interesting definition of the term “limited”–any time period greater than the average human lifespan may as well be forever as long as anyone alive now is concerned.

And since copyright is basically a contract between content creators and the public arbitrated by congress, for the benefit of the public, and the terms have been increased in favor of one party (the copyright holders) with no input from the other (the public), it is a contract that has not been negotiated in good faith and therefore should be declared null and void (and probably would if it was just a regular contract between two entities).

So, unless you’re willing to return copyright to its original terms and sit down and renegotiate in good faith with ALL concerned parties to come up with a plan to fix copyright where the needs and wants of everyone are fairly heard, I don’t see any reason for me to give any respect to copyright as it stands today.

Anonymous Coward says:


It isn’t a monopoly on making movies. The entire point is that a monopoly implies that nobody else can do something. If you want to get entirely narrow, then yes, in some ways it is a monopoly – but not one that truly matters. It’s not a monopoly in any sense that stops economic activity in a sector or a broad part of the economy.

The point being that broadly calling movies and music a monopoly is bullshit from the word go. The original poster used a broad brush approach to monopoly, which is just not right.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:


So just because nobody has a copyright on “making books” (which, of course, is more of a process fitting a patent more or less) there is no monopoly.

The entire point is that a monopoly implies that nobody else can do something.

The something I want to do is make a space movie with lightsaber weapons in it. Due to copyright (monopoly granted to Lucas) I cannot make such a film. Every single copyright is a granted monopoly. As a whole all copyrights are monopolies.

Togashi (profile) says:


If someone bought a Bentley then started letting random people drive it for free, that would be legal as far as I know (assuming, of course, that the random people are licensed, insured drivers). Would it be smart? Not terribly so; while you are driving the car, it can’t be used by anyone else, and you have a chance of damaging it so that it can’t be used again. If they charge you for it, they can be compensated for their loss of use of the car, as well as the possibility of damage resulting in further loss of use. There is no problem with this: it’s their car, they can do what they wish with it.

Anonymous Coward says:


“The logic just doesn’t follow. Are you suggesting that a crack house with a single, non-crack addicted person in it should make it illegal for police to raid and shut down?”

No but if an apartment complex has some crack dealers in it they can not kick everyone out.

“Are you suggesting that, because Mafia members also have children living in their homes and legit workers in their “social clubs” that these locations should be exempt from raids?”

No but the non-criminals should not be punished.

“Are you suggesting that a pirate site with a single legit file on it is somehow suddenly a legit service?”

right there was 1 legit file on MU.

Anonymous Coward says:


This is the worst kind of troll analogy, because you are literally going entirely out of your way to try and make a comparison but fail at the most crucial part.

You would love to drive a Bentley, but can’t afford to do so. You want the experience and what have you.

Well, your example would be more spot on if instead of just saying “well I’m not keeping a physical copy wre wre wre free”, you instead said, “If someone created a device, that allowed me to make an exact copy of say my neighbor’s Bentley, without depriving him of his Bentley, then that would be perfect and exactly what I want.”

You now can enjoy the experience of driving the Bentley, your neighbor still has his. Anyone who wants one could produce a copy from the original or yours (which is an exact copy of the original) and all for free. A replicator/materializer/etc is what we’re talking about here.

And, if you didn’t want to own it, you could just give it to someone else, after trying it out and relishing the experience. You didn’t take anything, heck you could barely say you even borrowed it. Although, I doubt it would improve YOUR life. Some people just aren’t happy no matter what. Hence all the b*tching about this or that, kids on lawns, people making copies, etc. You’d fall into that category. I’m a miserable person (inside) and can’t stand see people enjoying themselves through loopholes or technicalities or anything in general. Here is why all of you are bad. And I’m wagging my finger at each and every one of you.

You sir/ma’am fail at your analogy. Just wanted to say that again.

ECA (profile) says:

I wont go there..

1 company has control over 1 product…
NOT 2-3-4…1 company has ALL rights and ability to restrict any part of a product.

The ability to sell the SAME product as a monopoly, Cheaper then the company…

Giving a copy of something or the same, to a friend/other..

Its always fun when you find out that you can make a Copy of your data/music/game cheaper then the CORPS can sell it. there is a draw back in that you arent using the HIGH END CD/DVD..its also fun to find your PAID for original is ALL SCRATCHED UP..

Karl (profile) says:


If you want to get entirely narrow, then yes, in some ways it is a monopoly – but not one that truly matters.

Ah. So you admit it is a monopoly, you just don’t care. Got it.

By the way, it is a monopoly. This is not debatable. It has always been described as such by legislators, and that it is a monopoly has been reiterated many times by the Supreme Court:

Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.
Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson

Monoplies tho’ in certain cases useful ought to be granted with caution, and guarded with strictness agst abuse. The Constitution of the U. S. has limited them to two cases, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions, in both which they are considered as a compensation for a benefit actually gained to the community as a purchase of property which the owner might otherwise withold from public use. […] But grants of this sort can be justified in very peculiar cases only, if at all; the danger being very great that the good resulting from the operation of the monopoly, will be overbalanced by the evil effect of the precedent; and it being not impossible that the monopoly itself, in its original operation, may produce more evil than good.
James Madison

I believe, Sir, that I may safely take it for granted that the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad. And I may with equal safety challenge my honorable friend to find out any distinction between copyright and other privileges of the same kind; any reason why a monopoly of books should produce an effect directly the reverse of that which was produced by the East India Companys monopoly of tea, or by Lord Essexs monopoly of sweet wines.
A Speech delivered in the House of Commons on the 5th of February, 1841, by Thomas Babington Macaulay

The monopoly privileges that Congress may authorize are neither unlimited nor primarily designed to provide a special private benefit. Rather, the limited grant is a means by which an important public purpose may be achieved. It is intended to motivate the creative activity of authors and inventors by the provision of a special reward, and to allow the public access to the products of their genius after the limited period of exclusive control has expired.
Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios

In enacting a copyright law Congress must consider . . . two questions: First, how much will the legislation stimulate the producer and so benefit the public; and, second, how much will the monopoly granted be detrimental to the public? The granting of such exclusive rights, under the proper terms and conditions, confers a benefit upon the public that outweighs the evils of the temporary monopoly.
– H. R. Rep. No. 2222, 60th Cong., 2d Sess., 7 (1909)

The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors.
Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal

The most common error about copyright is the idea that copyright is property to be protected as other type property. Copyright, however, is “intellectual property,” which means that it is not like other property. It is a series of defined rights to which a given work is subject for a limited period of time for the purpose of marketing the work. In short, copyright is a statutory monopoly to serve a public purpose, not a plenary property right.
Users’ Rights in Copyright: An Interview with Ray Patterson

Richard (profile) says:


Honestly, I reported your post. If you want to preach, try religion dot com instead.

I’m not preaching I’m making a moral point and using a biblical reference. You don’t have to believe in the religion to see the point.

The point is that even a small number of innocent users should not be punished for the actions of the guilty (not that they necessarily ARE guilty btw).

Backing it with a biblical text implies that it is a moral line that is widely accepted in our culture as a gold standard of behaviour – and a gold standard that the US justice system has failed to meet on this occasion.

Tweetie says:

We need a global digital library

as a researcher who uploaded his own books to library.nu i fully agree with everything you write. library.nu was not just about getting books for free, it was a massive improvement compared to the traditional way of academic research (order a book from a library, wait, go fetch the book, see it’s not what you were looking for, back to step 1 etc. ->if you even are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you have access to a library). academic research would hugely benefit from a global digital library with instant and free access. society in general would hugely benefit from that. academic writing was never about making money and it should never be. it is about making intellectual progress that benefits society. right now, the academic publishing industry has become totally useless and they are getting in the way of education. we, as researchers, have to fight this industry and we have to build our own networks where we can exchange knowledge.

ps: note that i only talk about academic publications. i understand that for fiction writers, who try to make a living off their writing, the situation might be more difficult.

Richard (profile) says:


I would love to drive a Bentley but they are priced out of my budget. Perhaps someone can set up some service so that I can drive a Bentley for free.

Is there no end to your stupidity?

The moment that someone reduces the marginal cost of producing a Bentley to zero your analogy will start working.

GO and study some economics before you try this kind of thing again.

Anonymous Coward says:


“The records also indicate that only 5.86 million of these users ever uploaded a single file to either Megaupload.com or Megavideo.com, demonstrating that more than 90 percent of their registered users only used the defendants? systems to download.”


I think someone needs to learn to read comments before making a stupid one themselves…

SV says:

As a frequent visitor on library.nu, I’m so disappointed it has been shut down. As a financially-challenged student, its collections of books, journals etc was treasured and provided me with some fantastic research bases over the last year. It will be sadly missed, particularly as many of the publications are difficult to find in libraries and expensive to buy! RIP library.nu

babababa says:

I don’t see how these publishers’ revenue will rise in any way after they shut down library.nu – academic books shared there habitually cost around $200 apiece, no one except institutions and tenured professors can afford such prices. They did it on principle, “just because”. And the maintainers of that site were not making millions of dollars out of their server, it’s a mystery how they even managed to run the damn thing, it’s another made up lie necessary for the courts to proceed, it has nothing to do with reality.

Megaupload was making millions sharing blockbusters, that’s a fact though.

All this anti-nu crusade is entirely theoretical, vindictive and fundamentally absurd. Pff.

maa says:

Life without Library.nu is scary

با شما موافقم ولي بايد توجه كرد كه در برابر قانون قرار گرفته ايد و با اين شيوه ها يا انگونه كه ميلاد ميگويد ، يعني كمپين نمي توان به نتيجه رسيد . بايد پيشنهادات مستدل داده شود . مثلا وقتي علم به اين سرعت نوسازي ميشود ، لزومي ندارد كه انتشار الكترونيكي منابع بعد از دو سال تحت حاكميت ناشر باشد و يا مي توان دسترسي را براي بعضي كشورها و افراد رايگان قرار داد

Lancelot says:

Closing library nu

I thhink that authors should be paid for their work…

But in fact in the actual system the biggest part of the benefits go to the publisher. This is why they want to keep prices of book very high. They want money, spreading knowledge is nothing for them.

Nowadays it is very easy to produce a very high quality typesetting without the help of publishers!!
In fact, if it were possible to buy the books for one dollar
each and send the money directly to the authors, I am sure that they would earn more than what they receive as royalties now. For one actual reader there would be 20 or more…

The system could be simple authors produce their own books and put them line. “The customer” buy a 10 dollars tickets and is then allowed to download 10 books…(There could be special prices for students…)the buer could have a partial prview of the book…

I hope that a such a system will emerge soon…

Yes I downloaded some books that I have not in paper forms but most the books I took from library nu are on my shelves…at home. I am very often abroad and it is much easier to travel with a usb key than with my shelves.

For the students I am sure it is a real catastrophy

jegas says:

Excellent commentary. There is always two sides to every coin. What moral victory the publishers have had with this is nothing compared to the expansion of knowledge this action would hamper the rest of the world at large who can ill afford these “essential” luxuries. Being right to a “t’ is not always right in our human world ( but the west believes otherwise) a touch of Humanity is essential. I for one am sorry for the loss of library.nu

YTM says:

a blow on scholarship

Library nu was a great support for my PhD research.Now I lost every opportunity of exploring any reference material for free. This is a big blow for educators especially in developing countries where things are extremely difficult to obtain up-to-date ref. materials. Library nu. was a real support of scholarship. What a disaster!

Anonymous Coward says:

Considering that even though I’m doing research at a top European University, the library barely has any of the resources i need. This is not about being cheap, I pay my university fees, and expect them to provide me with material, which seemingly is not on their list of priorities. Thus as a student it is impossible to be able to afford to buy 50 books for each project, many of which are not even in print!

That is why I need library.nu!

Klaas Heitinga says:


Apparently those publishers trying to block the spreading of knowledge (purportedly Cambridge University Press, Harper Collins, Elsevier and John Wiley & Sons among them) have won this one. Scientists no longer put up with this. Already, a boycot has been instated against Elsevier, and hopefully more will follow. The ridiculous situation where scientists write papers and book, do their own peer review, editing and providing ready-to-print copies only for publishers to make big bugs on that has to end. Knowledge should be free for everyone. Join the boycot! Visit http://thecostofknowledge.com/

krishna says:

Library.nu was excellent site. That actually brought a new life for me as far as using the net to access for knowledge. I found thousands and thousands of books – gems of knowledge – on Physics, Astronomy, Popular Science, History of Science ? thanks for Library.nu. Some times I felt amaze – how all these books once a priced possession of huge Library made available freely, because in Library.nu one estimated that there were almost million books in digital format. So, that was simply ocean of books and books. No other site can match it and difficult to replace it. Shear joy to go for the site, search for the books, down loading and reading and sharing. Oh! difficult to believe – the whole world of Library – in front of you. I feel it is the real spirit of open source.

I had apprehension that one day the site will be stopped and forced to shutdown. And that apprehension became true. Publishers joined together and by forcibly made the site to quit by that they have drawn the shutters for those people who really wished to read scholarly books for acquiring the knowledge to scale new heights in their chosen field.

In fact, books on Sex and pornography should be heavily priced so much heavy that people who really wish they have to pay and buy them – not the scholarly book, since the knowledge and wisdom should freely available or at least at minimum price. But this is the other way. The books on Frontier areas of Science and Technology can’t afforded by the common people. Only library can have. Sorry, that too not for all library – only for Institutes which are heavily funded. That means they are only for the selected people. Library.nu actually made those books available for all those – simply they require the net connection. My self, and other millions and millions, certainly have enriched by this site
In the era of Internet, I believe, publishing Industry has changed. One should accept the fact. Just few years ago, no one have dreamt the possibility of reading NewYork Times, Gurdian, and many other frontline news papers and magazines without paying in our home which are situated in remote areas – other corners of the globe. But now it is possible. In the name of piracy if they stop, who are the losers? We the the readers and the society in large. In a way Wikipedia is an alternative for Encyclopedia. It is the collective efforts of the people to share the information. Archxiv.org is also an alternative for the standard Journals. Slowly it has acquired more and more acceptability in academia. Many scientists – even Nobel laureates – are publishing their findings in them. Those people who wish to derive more knowledge are now heavily depend on Archxiv.org. Off course, they know that all those information there are not fully authentic. But whatever information available are at least sufficient for them as guiding light.. LINUX , LATEX and many other open software are also the voice against the monopoly of the company. There was a time – pictures and photos were priced to print and copy one should have pay heavily. But now scenario has changed. They are available freely. By giving the proper credit, breath taking pictures taken by Hubble, Chandra and other telescopes can be used. The same is happening in the field of music and arts. YouTube itself is the example. The society is enjoying this new trend. Music has gone into the masses. But the music industry has not closed. On the contrary the music industry has been flourishing. The same is true in book publishing.

That means Library.nu has not done any criminal activity. It has done the activity in pace with the changing time. By forcing the site to shut down, the people behind this action have created a huge void in millions and millions people who were using the site to acquire the new information and knowledge. Shut down of Library.nu is a terrible loss. Hope soon it will be restored and available for the public.

khushi awan says:

publishers will not benefit

closing of library.nu is a big loss. i came to knew about my good books thru this website only and brought a few of the best despite having a soft copy on my computer which i wouldnot have bought if i had not known about these books thru library.nu. this also helped me a lot in my thesis and my residency. this is a big loss to the academic community as a whole . whats the benefit of all this research and its publications if u r not able to afford it and help others and take it with u to ur grave.

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