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Policies & Practices > please tell me this isn't true

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message 1: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Isaacs (eisaacs) | 11 comments This is from my author friend Kristie Cook. Is this true?

"...There's a public file-sharing group on Goodreads that is solely about listing what ebooks they have available in their Dropbox folders for anyone in the group to copy. And Goodreads is okay with this..."

Is this true? Is there a group that is allowing people to illegally download ebooks on this site? Surely not!

message 2: by Paula (new)

Paula (paulaan) | 7029 comments This is probably a better question that you post in the feedback group or use the contact us link at the bottom of the each page

message 3: by Banjomike (last edited Jul 07, 2011 12:40PM) (new)

Banjomike | 5530 comments Elizabeth wrote: "And Goodreads is okay with this..."

It is not (always) illegal to share ebooks. Nor would it be illegal to keep YOUR ebooks on Dropbox. I expect that a Goodreads group of this type would NOT be for "allowing people to illegally download ebooks". Not officially illegal, anyway.

And no, I am not a member of this group.

Besides, my ebook collection would not fit on a free Dropbox account.

message 4: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Isaacs (eisaacs) | 11 comments Well, by all means as long as it is not official.

Libraries have file sharing that allows people to "borrow" a book, but then it is "returned". That's completely different than this.

Here's the thing. I understand that most people don't ever think a thing about piracy. They grab something off of youtube or a dropbox account and don't blink an eye. It's the internet, right? And it's just one book. Who are they hurting?

But the fact of the matter is that it affects lives.

Indie authors rely on sales to make enough money to pay for editors, book designers, etc. so that they can write another day. Smaller indie publishers need sales to survive, and big publishing companies look at the number of units sold to determine whether to pick up an author, keep them for the series, or drop them all together.

I'm not trying to vilify people who, whether officially illegal or not, are downloading books for free. I just wish goodreads wouldn't allow it to happen here.

I love this site. I love the fact that authors and readers can interact in an open and friendly forum. I love the discussions and the wealth of information goodreads offers to new authors. I'm a moderator of a group here and I'm on this site everyday. But piracy is what it is. Put it anyway you want, at the end of the day openly allowing people to download books that they didn't pay for is stealing, and it is my fervent hope goodreads will take a stand and at least say "not on our watch."

message 5: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 43548 comments Mod
Elizabeth wrote: "I just wish goodreads wouldn't allow it to happen here."

It is not possible to transfer files from one user to another on GR. So by definition, it isn't allowed to happen here.

message 6: by Banjomike (new)

Banjomike | 5530 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Put it anyway you want, at the end of the day openly allowing people to download books that they didn't pay for is stealing"

It isn't, well, not always. There are tens of thousands of free ebooks by thousands of very popular authors from older ones like Jane Austen to newer ones like Jerry Pournelle (Science fiction superstar). What I'm saying is that the mere act of sharing and/or downloading ebooks is not illegal. It would depend on the books.

I would expect the Goodreads undercover team to infiltrate the group and see what is being shared. Keep an eye out for a pile of corpses if it does turn out to be dodgy.

message 7: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Isaacs (eisaacs) | 11 comments Thanks! :-D

message 8: by Kristie (new)

Kristie Cook (kristiecook) | 3 comments I found the group and was appalled by what they were doing. No, these aren't free books in the public domain. Why would they bother doing it this way for books that are already free? They'd just send each other to the Amazon or other appropriate link to get it, just like all the other groups that tell each other about free and cheap books.

These are everything from very popular books that publishers set the price at $7, $8, $9 or higher, but not free, to indie author books to pretty much whatever they want. If you want a book, there's a thread where you can ask if anyone has it and someone will pipe up and say it's on their Dropbox. This is not the same as lending. Amazon & B&N have specific steps in place for lending. Putting the file in Dropbox is not one of those steps.

I complained to Goodreads via the contact us link. This is what I got:

Hi Kristie,

Thanks for the email. While it should be impossible to pirate ebook files on Goodreads directly, we cannot prevent users from discussing piracy if they choose to. As believers in free speech, it is not our policy to censor or delete controversial content on the site (unless it constitutes a slanderous or personal attack). If we open the door to Goodreads acting as a censor, we hope you'll agree that there is no way for us to draw the line. We must be consistent in how we apply our policies.

However, if you ever see any ebooks available for download illegally on Goodreads itself, please let us know and we'll take them down immediately.


People are discussing illegal activity and how to do it and providing the direct tools to do it, using Goodreads as their communication tool, but since they're not actually committing the crime using the Goodreads platform, it's okay. As a site that's supposed to connect readers and authors and promote those relationships, allowing this to go on only makes me, as an author, want to find other avenues for these relationships. I'm having a hard time supporting a site that will not support its authors, publishers and all those readers who DO pay for their books because they know it's the right thing to do, if for no other reason.

message 9: by Banjomike (new)

Banjomike | 5530 comments I would assume from Kara's email that Goodreads does not have a policy in place which says something like "You will NOT provide links to download illegal content or list sites/locations where such illegal stuff is available". If they had, the PTB could at least start by pointing that group (and others if they exist) to the policy and saying "No, Stop It. Not On Our Site". Most sites that deal with ebooks (I'm a member of several) have a minority of members who offer dodgy content and the site policy is usually a quick expulsion. No site really needs the Book Police to come knocking.

On the other hand it would be hellishly difficult to actively censor a site this large.

If I was the PTB I might be tempted to at least remove librarian status from any who are active members of that group. Assuming there are some.

message 10: by Kiri (last edited Jul 07, 2011 08:47PM) (new)

Kiri | 20 comments I'd like to point out that the group is no longer there.

When I located it yesterday (note that I am not a member) there were at most 20 members. Considering that and that vast amount of people on good reads I think Kristie's reaction is somewhat overblown. (not invalid, just ..)

That said I do not think the fact this happened should be overlooked, nor something perhaps looked into regarding policies down the road. Furthermore we do not in fact know what books were on offer. None of the books were listed here - merely that they were offered via dropbox and another service accounts.

message 11: by Kristie (new)

Kristie Cook (kristiecook) | 3 comments When I first found it, the one I asked Goodreads about, there were 89 members. There was a thread where people could make requests and others responded if they had it. Requests varied from Alyson Noel to Maya Angelou. Responses to specific requests included "do a search on mine, I have hundreds in there, so I'm sure it's there." The group was there earlier today with 84 members. Now it's "secret."

I don't know how my contacting Goodreads is an overblown reaction. Any pirating should be addressed, regardless of how big or small. The more people are aware that it's illegal and hurts everyone, the better chances we have of reducing it. Because Goodreads does have so many members, it could send a pointed message to pirates if it wanted to.

message 12: by Gerd (last edited Jul 08, 2011 03:24AM) (new)

Gerd | 1051 comments Kiri wrote: "When I located it yesterday (note that I am not a member) there were at most 20 members. Considering that and that vast amount of people on good reads I think Kristie's reaction is somewhat overblown. ..."

How so?
If Goodreads policy on the matter of copyright infringement really is a "Long as it doesn't happen directly on our torf" then it's a shame. Providing people knowingly with a place to meet in order to illegally share, is the same as giving consent to do it.

message 13: by Kim (new)

Kim | 604 comments Well actually it seems by not removing that sort of content GR is violating it's own terms.

Under User Content -

You agree not to post User Content that:
(iv) ,b.may constitute or contribute to a crime or tort; (v) contains any information or content that we deem to be unlawful, harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, defamatory, infringing, invasive of personal privacy or publicity rights, harassing, humiliating to other people (publicly or otherwise), libelous, threatening, profane, or otherwise objectionable; (vi) contains any information or content that is illegal (including, without limitation, the disclosure of insider information under securities law or of another party’s trade secrets); or (vii) contains any information or content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships.

You agree that any User Content that you post does not and will not violate third-party rights of any kind, including without limitation any Intellectual Property Rights (as defined below), rights of publicity and privacy.

For the purposes of this Agreement, "Intellectual Property Rights" means all patent rights, copyright rights, mask work rights, moral rights, rights of publicity, trademark, trade dress and service mark rights, goodwill, trade secret rights and other intellectual property rights as may now exist or hereafter come into existence, and all applications therefore and registrations, renewals and extensions thereof, under the laws of any state, country, territory or other jurisdiction.

I know that it also states that GR has no responsibility or liability over User Content however they can remove the illegal content and reprimand or ban multiple offense users.

In that letter they state that if GR starts to censor then where is the line? The line is when the content is considered illegal in the majority of users countries, or the country where the service is located.

Hell the Terms also include this:

In accordance with the DMCA and other applicable law, Goodreads has adopted a policy of terminating, in appropriate circumstances and at Goodreads's sole discretion, members who are deemed to be repeat infringers. Goodreads may also at its sole discretion limit access to the Service and/or terminate the accounts of any Users who infringe any intellectual property rights of others, whether or not there is any repeat infringement.

For worried authors please note section 9 details how to lodge an official complaint when you're own work has been subject to copyright infringement and that it is accessible via GR.

I know there is the great Limitation of Liability and yes GR has protected itself from lawsuit but remember a site like this lives for it's members and if you don't treat them right, especially the authors as we'd love to see many more join up, then all you're doing is shooting yourself in the foot.


message 14: by Kiri (last edited Jul 08, 2011 12:48PM) (new)

Kiri | 20 comments Kristie wrote: "When I first found it, the one I asked Goodreads about, there were 89 members. There was a thread where people could make requests and others responded if they had it. Requests varied from Alyson N..."

Perhaps I found a different group.

The one I saw has a total of eight visible discussions. only two of those discussed exchanging. In those discussions only the fact that books were available via a dropbox folders (and two other server services) were mentioned. Members could send their contact info privately to the message poster to obtain access. No books were listed for exchange (that I saw) in any of those discussions. (Aside: As has been mentioned before there is simply no way to tell if what was offered was legal or not. For all we know they were offering perfectly legal items. )There were approximately 20 members in this group. This group (as of my posting yesterday) is no longer findable. If it was made secret I have no idea. I did not join it.

If you can still find the group you mention, which you state has become secret it indicates you joined. It does not sound like the group I found.

To clarify.. Do I find piracy a problem - yes.
Do I think goodreads should address the problem - yes (see my prior post)
I however am not part of that process - I don't get to call the shot on that.

I only came to comment that the group I found was apparently gone.

message 15: by Banjomike (new)

Banjomike | 5530 comments Kiri wrote: "If you can still find the group you mention, which you state has become secret it indicates you joined. "

Don't think so. I can still find that secret group (it had 87 members when I first saw it) and I certainly never joined it or any other group.

message 16: by Kristie (new)

Kristie Cook (kristiecook) | 3 comments I definitely never joined it! I can only find it by clicking on the link in the email I sent to Goodreads and a pink bar comes up saying it's secret. So it's still there, but you have to be invited, I guess. I don't know how secret groups work. still exists.

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