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Ebook lending service shut down after authors accuse it of piracy

Ebook lending service shut down after authors accuse it of piracy


LendInk, an ebook lending site, was forced offline after a group of authors accused it of giving their books away without their permission.

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Ebook piracy is a legitimate problem that publishers have had no qualms attacking, but a lending site may have been caught in the crossfire after a group of authors mistook it for an illegal pirating site. CNET reports that LendInk, a site that helped owners of lending-enabled ebooks connect and swap titles via email, was shuttered after a group of authors noticed the site and felt it was offering up their work for free. The initial confusion appears to have stemmed from the fact that searching LendInk would bring up results for virtually any title in the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble ebook libraries; the site itself was a member of Amazon's affiliate program, and would receive revenue when users clicked through to purchase titles. If a LendInk member had offered up one of their books for lending, however, a button would put the interested party in touch with the owner (both Amazon and Barnes & Noble allow limited-time lending for ebooks if the title has the feature enabled).

After several authors noticed the site early this month, word spread on Twitter and across several bulletin boards. LendInk's owner, Dale Porter, told The Digital Media Machine that his ISP received "hundreds of threats regarding possible lawsuits" in response, which resulted in the site being taken down. As of this writing, has a notice stating that it is "Currently offline. Not due to DMCA complaints."

As for the authors themselves, John M. Davis writes on his own site that his issue with LendInk wasn't the book lending — though he does say it "exposes a loophole in the lending system" — but rather that the site was hosting the cover art for his books without permission. "If they would have simply asked permission to host my photos, I would have done it without question," he writes, "But there has to be a line somewhere. And after directly emailing the website and asking that my images be removed without response, my C&D letter proved to be the silver bullet."

It's unclear whether LendInk will return, with Porter writing on the site's Facebook page that he has been receiving personal threats in connection with the matter, and that "I am still deciding if it is worth bringing the site back up."