Dutch court orders second-hand e-book website offline

online bookstoreSecond-hand e-book website Tom Kabinet must go offline within three days unless it can prove it is not allowing illegal downloads to be traded, the appeal court in Amsterdam said on Tuesday.

The case was brought by the Dutch publishers’ association NUV which says the website breaches authors’ rights legislation and is facilitating the sale of illegal e-books. Last July, a lower court rejected calls from publishers to stop the sale of second-hand e-books via an injunction.

In its ruling, the lower court said European jurisprudence does not make it clear if there is a legal difference between selling a second-hand e-book and a paper version. In the absence of this, it would be wrong to ban the sale of second-hand e-books, the court said.

The appeal court on Tuesday did not go into this discussion and said that, in principle, Tom Kabinet may sell legal e-books. However, the court accepted arguments from the NUV that the website is a location where illegal downloads may be traded. According to the NRC, the publishers’ lawyer demonstrated in court how easy this is to do.

If the site does not go off air within three days, it will have to pay a fine of €1,000 a day.

However, if the site can prove that it has taken sufficient steps to prevent the trade in illegal e-books, the site can ask the court to lift the offline order.

E-book sales

Meanwhile, book organisation CB said on Tuesday the number of e-books sold in the Netherlands rose 22% in the final quarter of last year, compared with the same period in 2013.

Nearly all the top 60 best-sellers last year were also available as e-books, spokesman Mathijs Suidman said.

In total, e-book sales rose 17% over the year. Children’s books, non-fiction and educational books are more likely than fiction to be sold as hard copy books, CB said.

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