With nearly 12 million books, Z-Library advertised itself as the largest repositories of pirated books on the Internet.
The site had millions of regular readers who found a wealth of free knowledge and entertainment at their fingertips.
ended abruptly two weeks ago
when the U.S. Department of Justice seized
its domain names
as part of a criminal investigation. While the site remains operational on the dark web, two alleged masterminds have been arrested and will be prosecuted.
Z-Library Operators Arrested and Indicted
A few hours ago the federal court in Brooklyn unsealed the indictment that holds Russian nationals Anton Napolsky (33) and Valeriia Ermakova (27) responsible for running the Z-Library site. The pair stand accused of criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering.
The two are allegedly from St. Petersburg but were arrested in Argentina on November 3, right around the time when the domain names were seized. The arrests were carried out at the request of the U.S. Government, which will presumably seek their extradition.
“As alleged, the defendants profited illegally off work they stole, often uploading works within mere hours of publication, and in the process victimized authors, publishers and booksellers,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace comments.
Facing the Consequences
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, Michael Driscoll, highlights that Z-Library has been operating for over a decade. As such, the site impacted the revenues of authors and publishers of millions of books.
“Intellectual property theft crimes deprive their victims of both ingenuity and hard-earned revenue. The FBI is determined to ensure those willing to steal and profit from the creativity of others are stopped and made to face the consequences in the criminal justice system,” Driscoll said.
Whether Napolsky and Ermakova are believed to have been involved with Z-Library from the start is unknown. The acts laid out in the indictment start on January 2018.
The criminal investigation was launched by the Cyber Crime Task Force and carried out with help from national and foreign law enforcement offices. Argentina played a key role in the matter, as it helped to arrest the two suspects.
The Department of Justice stresses that the defendants are “presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty,” as is the case in all criminal proceedings.
Z-Library Not Completely Offline
Arresting the two alleged masterminds behind Z-Library is a major victory for U.S. authorities. However, it hasn’t completely wiped out the site. After the arrests, the Z-Library team was still responding via email and the site remains available on the darkweb today.
This suggests that the Z-Library team is larger than Napolsky and Ermakova alone. Whether the pirate library will attempt a comeback through new domain names is unknown.
At the same time, the indictment refutes Z-Library’s initial response, which blamed the downtime on hosting problems. The authorities confirm that they carried out the takedowns, seizing a total of 241 domain names.
We also published a follow-up article with more details showing
how the FBI tracked down the two suspects
According to the Russian embassy in Argentina, Argentina has
yet to receive
a request to extradite the two Russian citizens.
“We are counting on a transparent and fair consideration by the Argentine court of the American formal request for extradition, which, to our knowledge, has not yet been received,” the embassy states.
“We proceed from the fact that the current legislation of Argentina does not allow automatic execution of extraterritorial decisions and requests from third states,” it adds.
The Authors Guild’s CEO Mary Rasenberger released the following statement commenting on the indictment.
“The arrest and indictment of Z-Library operators is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the fight against online criminal ebook piracy to date. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and to the FBI for all of their hard work in not only shutting down the site but also finding and apprehending the perpetrators.”
Z-Library shows a download error message for unregistered users.
A copy of the indictment of Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, released by the federal court in Brooklyn, is
available here (pdf)
, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.