A pirate ebook site by the name of LibGen released a Chrome extension early last month which makes it easy to browse the world’s largest bookstore and, rather than buy a book, downloaded a pirated copy of any ebook which interests them.
When installed, the LibGen plugin modifies what a user sees on the Amazon website by inserting a new row of information near the top of the Amazon product page of books. The newly added info is drawn from the LibGen website , and it lists possible unauthorized sources where one might download the ebook.
You can see the extra text as a blue line in the screenshot below:
Apparently based in Russia, LibGen has been around since at least 2010. LibGen, short for Library Genesis, is by no means the first to offer a plugin which mashes up commerce and piracy but it could be the one with the most staying power.
In 2008 hackers developed a similar plugin for Firefox called “Pirates of the Amazon”. That plugin was only available for a short while before it was taken down, but when it was available it added an extra button to listings for videos, books, and music which helped a user pirate the content via The Pirate Bay rather than buy it.
And that’s not the only one., for example, enhances Amazon with links to Pirate Bay download pages for all sorts of media, much like the “Pirates of the Amazon” plugin did.
The point I would like to make, folks, is that these kind of tools are prevalent and yet commerce goes on. This would lead to the obvious argument that piracy isn’t as big of a deal as it might appear, but I’m not going to make that point.
I’ve recently learned that I haven’t had much of a problem with piracy – not compared to other bloggers, any way. Since I seem to be uniquely immune to the problem I am not sure that I can argue that it is a minor problem.
I know that it might be strange to bring up that point in a post on piracy, but some time back I got into an argument over whether piracy was a serious problem. My opponent pointed out that it sounded like I didn’t have much experience with piracy. I was offended by the claim at the time, but it turned out she was right.
And so I’m not sure I can comment on the seriousness of piracy issues.