Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware® is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

August 9, 2019

Kiss Library: Pirate Site Alert

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

I've gotten several alerts over the past week about a pirate site that's new to me (though not new: this warning was first published in September 2017): Kiss Library, where many authors are finding unauthorized electronic versions of their books.

Kiss Library differs from the typical pirate site in a couple of ways. Unlike, say, Ebook Bike, run by serial copyright thief and "information wants to be free" ideologue Travis McCrea, it doesn't simply offer pirated books for free download, but appears actually to be selling them. Also unlike Ebook Bike and other pirate sites, it seems to promptly respond to DMCA notices.

I found two of my own books listed.


I filled out the form on Kiss's DMCA page, and within minutes my books vanished from the site. I also received this email:

Awwww. How nice. They're contrite! It's not their fault! They'll pay back the illicit profits! They are so transparent about the whole thing!

Except...it's bullshit. They send the exact same response to everyone. Here's someone who got it in July:


A friend of mine got it in March. Someone else got it in 2018. Kiss seems to have concluded that it's better to lose a few listings (which can always be reinstated later) than to make waves by ignoring authors or telling them to f*ck off. It's a different strategy from the "fight everything" stance of many pirates, or those that send takedown notices into oblivion--and it's probably why Kiss, with its huge, monetized catalog of pirated books, hasn't sparked the uproar other pirate sites have.

It's been suggested that Kiss doesn't actually take down disputed books: it simply blocks the IP addresses of anyone who sends a DMCA request so they can't see that the books are still on offer. I've no idea if this is true.

Also, there's the question of whether Kiss really offers the books at all--whether it's nothing more than an elaborate phishing scheme that uses books as bait. I followed purchase links all the way to the point of providing credit card info, but I didn't dare do more. This anti-piracy service, however, did:
So if you visit the site, be careful. Send the DMCA if you find your books, but don't try to test the system by buying anything.

Kiss's About page features a photo of smiling millennials and a Canada address. Kiss originally had a .com domain, registered in 2017 by a Gibraltar-based registrar that was shut down by ICANN this past March. Its current .net domain, which is just 6 months old, is registered to Legato LLC, a Russian company. Make of that what you will.

UPDATE: An update from the anti-piracy service:
So maybe there's no content on the site--just book covers--and all they're doing is taking the money and running.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Per this Facebook post from Tamara Thorne, the Authors Guild is aware of Kiss Library and is preparing a statement on the status of the matter and steps they are taking. I'll link to or post it here when it's released.

UPDATE 8/10/19: Well, that didn't take long. Thanks to an alert commenter, I visited Kiss Library this evening and found this:


Not only have they reinstated the two books I DMCA'd (with different covers; they're both backlist books that I re-published with Open Road Media), they've added my two other Open Road backlist books, and a pair of fake books put up by a Writer Beware-hating troll a few years ago as part of a harassment campaign. Think the Kiss Library folks know about this post?

UPDATE 8/11/19: Oops, gone again (except for the two fake books that use my name). Someone is following Writer Beware!

9 comments :

Harold Underdown said...

Victoria, it seems entirely possible to me that it IS a big phishing scheme and does not actually have any ebook files. I've visited several sites over the past few years that authors told me were selling or giving away their books that were no more than elaborate front doors to a legitimate subscription program of some kind, or that were designed to gather personal information, including credit card numbers. Like Kiss Library, they were created by scraping public information from Amazon or some other source. Unlike Kiss Library, they looked amateurish.

Michelle D. said...

That's just sickening, to say the least!! Thank you so much for warning us!
I have contacted Anti-Piracy Service Pirat.io for protecting my eBooks as it seems an affordable option rather than having to search all day on multiple search engines and submitting the DMCA notices myself.
I just cant handle it anymore, pirates are the scum of the earth! They are leeches, making money from the hard work of others without giving anything back other than damages to the authors and content creators!

Thank you again, for letting us know about this website Victoria!
Michelle D.

Diana Brown said...

Victoria, FWIW - I cannot find your books on the site. Perhaps they really do exclude you from their search/gather result when you file the DMCA...

Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks for checking, Diana!

Victor Acquista said...

Dealing with the Kiss Library taught me about DMCA filing. Nice post!

K Gal said...

I found eight entries (four titles, each one twice) immediately when I searched Victoria Strauss on kisslibrary. net: The Burning Land, The Awakened City, Guardian of the Hills, and The Lady of Rhuddesmere. All are epub+pdfs ranging in price from $5.83 to $7.65. I believe the "block you from finding it again" line. I snapped a screen shot if its helpful to you. (Hi, I'm Kyla, I read every entry, but I lurk and never comment. Thank you for doing what you do!)

Victoria Strauss said...

Thanks so much for checking, Kyla! I just looked at the site, and I can see those books--plus two fake books created by a troll that was harassing me a few years back. What do you bet the people at Kiss saw my post? I'm not sure whether it's worth bothering with a DMCA this time; they'll just put them back up.

Anonymous said...

Hi, just found your post after purchasing two e-books from Kiss Library a couple of days ago. One arrived as advertised in PDF form. The other was promised "in 3-6 hours" once "acquisition had been confirmed". It probably won't surprise you to learn it never came.

Total cost for the two books was a tick over $20 I paid through Paypal. A review of the Paypal transaction shows the seller tried to charge me an additional $12 for currency conversion which, to its credit, Paypal declined.

I can live with being scammed a few bucks; it's my fault for shopping while tired and rushed and not doing due diligence. But I'm infuriated to find out this site is nothing but a gang of Belorussian thieves profiting from the work of others.

My only suggestion is this. Their site uses Cloudflare and they will action DMCA, phishing and scam complaints.

https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/360028158352

These scumbags will never be brought to account, given where they live, but they can at least be stopped for a while.

Diana Brown said...

wow - less than 24 hrs later, back up on the site. neverending battle. So sorry for all who are being victimized by this scum

 
Design by The Blog Decorator