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Created: 02/04/2023
Updated: 02/01/2024

The Largest Pirate in Downloads for Magicians

by Chris Wasshuber

In the past when I was talking about pirates I never mentioned any websites directly because I wanted to avoid sending them inadvertently more customers. But we have reached a point where these pirate operations have become so large that a different strategy to deal with them is called for. It is not hard to spot these pirate sites because everything has so low prices that it should be pretty obvious that something illegal is going on there. If every product is 3-times, 5-times, or even 10-times cheaper than at established magic retail sites you can be certain it is an illegal operation, a pirate site. But I guess it can happen that somebody is duped into believing these are legitimate sites.

This is one of the reasons why I have decided to publicly name the biggest pirate site in our world of magic and conjuring so that everybody knows. There are two other reasons. One, I am hoping that somebody who knows the operator personally, or somebody who has additional information, will come forward with information that could be helpful in identifying him. Second, I am looking for people who are willing to help with actions in the fight against pirates. There are a number of things that I could use help with to mount a counter-offensive. I am not the guy that just rolls over and accepts the status quo. I have fought this site in particular, and many others like it, for years some for more than two decades, but not always with success. Some I was able to shut down or force to move to other platforms and domains. Others I could only temporarily and partially inhibit because I was for most of the time a lonely warrior. The time has come to assemble an army that is willing to fight and do something. (Perhaps I have watched too many Viking and Ottoman serials on Netflix. They seem to constantly assemble armies to go to war. It is time we do the same.) If you are willing to help please email me or use our contact form. I will discuss the details one-on-one.

The Pirate

The site I am talking about is erdnasemagicstore.io. If anybody has information on who is operating it or any other information that may be useful please contact me. I am sure there are some who know the operator. Do the right thing and blow the whistle. Anybody who will come forward with helpful information will escape punishment because ultimately I am not interested to pursue folks who purchased there but the pirate who operates the site. In fact, I am trying to find people who purchased there and who are willing to help. Perhaps you didn't know that this is a pirate site, or perhaps you have had a change of heart. You can now help me and correct the damage you have caused in the past. The fact that you do have a customer account on that site is very helpful to me. Please get in touch with me.

But first and foremost, please do not purchase there, no matter how low the prices are. This site pirates from pretty much every publisher in our industry not only from Lybrary.com. By my estimate, the total damage this site has caused over the years is about 5 million US dollars. I estimated this based on the order ID which has reached 100.000. The pirate currently gets on average 120 orders a day!

Who are all those who purchase there? Do you understand how much damage you do to the authors and creators, many of whom depend on that side income? It is mindboggling to me that there are apparently tens of thousands of magicians who are either oblivious to the fact that this is a pirate site committing blatant criminal copyright infringement, or who order there with the full understanding that this is illegal and they couldn't care less. If you are in the second group, shame on you!

If we assume, and this is a low assumption, that the average order size is $10 then that would mean the pirate has taken in with his 100.000 orders $1 million in revenue. However, he lowers the prices on his site by about a factor of 5 compared to the actual retail price. Consequently, the real damage to our industry is about $5 million. It is time we mount a coordinated and systematic counter-offensive.

What Authors and Publishers Can Do

If you are an author or creator whose products are being pirated on this site or any other pirate site, here is one thing you can do right now:

Go to Google and search if your product's page on the pirate site is indexed by the search engine. You can limit the search to the site by using 'site:erdnasemagicstore.io' and then add your name or product title and see if Google has it indexed. If it does have it report a copyright infringement to Google. The online form is here https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/legal-removal-request?complaint_type=dmca or simply search for 'Google copyright infringement form'.

What this does is that Google will remove this URL from their index and this reduces the chance that folks find that site or by accident land there and purchase your product. If Google receives enough such infringement reports for a website it will downgrade the entire website and the site essentially vanishes from Google. If enough authors submit infringement reports we can achieve this. While this will not mean the site itself will vanish it will reduce how much the site can make because the traffic to the site will be reduced.

I have reported in total more than 2000 URLs to Google over the years. It is a lot of work if one person has to do it all alone. Unfortunately, most other retailers in our industry have done very little in this respect even though they have been made aware of the problem and the things that can be done. That is why I recommend authors and creators take this into their own hands. If every author reports their products and re-checks the search engines every three months we could actually put a dent into pirate operations. Extra credit for those who also report the pirates to other search engines such as Bing. If you are an author and you do have any questions feel free to contact me. I am more than happy to help. Together we are stronger than individually.

There is a lot more that can be done, but for that, I need individuals who are willing to help me. It is actually not a lot of work but it will require a bit of your time and your help.

If anybody has any questions regarding how to fill out the Google infringement form feel free to contact me. I have used it countless times before myself. One has to submit one form per copyright owner, and each product needs to be grouped separately. Further down on the Google form is a blue button called "Add new group". This is if you want to report another product for the same copyright holder. You can report several infringing URLs potentially from different stores in the same form, as long as they relate to the same product. Occasionally Google will email back for clarification. This typically happens when the URL you are reporting shows more than one product. Then they will email something to the effect that they can't locate the infringing content. What I do in this case is to send them a screenshot of the page with the content circled. This has usually resolved the matter.

Or perhaps you have other skills and resources you are able to contribute. Maybe you have good contacts with investigative agencies such as the FBI, prosecutors, or equivalents in other countries to convince them to investigate. Maybe you work at Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover, or Paypal and are able to report a business selling stolen goods through internal channels. We have tried several of these avenues but were so far not able to convince anybody that this is worth looking into. Or perhaps you are an online sleuth good at finding stuff out or have friends and colleagues with special skills who are willing to help us identify the pirate. Please get in touch with me.

Other Opinions on this Subject

Replies

Chris Wasshuber (02/01/2024)

You talk about sacrifices. That would require you to have inside information about our operation. Do you have any idea how much time and money we have spent on combating piracy?

Gy Fan (02/01/2024)

Obviously piracy is wrong. There is no doubt about that. But unfortunately it is very difficult to combat it without making any sacrifices. The magic industry is small as you said but magic piracy is even smaller. If people have less reasons to go to pirates, the pirates will die out.

Chris Wasshuber (01/19/2024)

This is in response to Gy Fan: To justify piracy with poverty is wrong. If this were a question of life and death, for example, somebody steals a loaf of bread to feed his family, I could sympathize. But instructional magic publications are non-essential. If you can spend a couple of dollars on a pirate site you can also afford to spend a few dollars purchasing from authorized retailers. Particularly here on Lybrary.com, you can find a lot of first-class material for merely a few dollars. The entire run of the Jinx magazine for $15. That will keep you busy for several years. Bobo's "Modern Coin Magic" for a mere $8.50, etc. I could write a long list of first-rate publications that are available for just a few dollars. Even for those who have no money to spend at all, we offer a wealth of resources. There is an entire section on our website with free items. There is also The Learned Pig Project which is entirely free of charge. It provides access to several wonderful publications.

Many poor folks would be appalled at your statement because they would not want to be associated with theft. It has been my experience that poor people are generally more honest than rich ones. In any case, to excuse theft because of being poor is wrong.

Your suggestion to have different prices for different markets has merit, but the overhead to do this makes this very hard in magic. The magic market is simply too small. How many copies of a magic book could be sold in Africa at any price? Another problem is the language barrier. In many poor countries, people do not speak English. If the product is in English, one would need some kind of control to prevent these lower-cost versions from leaking to other countries. With downloads, this is essentially impossible to do. I have seen this work in the printed textbook market, where a publisher releases a lower-quality version of a book in low-income countries. The book would for example only be an older edition in softcover and greyscale. Such budget printed editions would in principle be possible in magic but print runs are already so low in our industry that splitting it up further makes little sense from a financial point of view. Downloadable ebooks are in most cases already cheaper than such budget printed editions rendering that possibility moot.

Gy Fan (01/19/2024)

Magicians in developing countries have to unfortunately rely on piracy to get access to magic. While a magician would make 40 or even a 100 $ per hour. There, they would be extremely lucky if they could get two bucks an hour. Have you ever heard of any famous magicians from Somalia? Yeah, me neither. Cause magicians are looked down on. This is also true for other professionals like car mechanics, plumbers and electricians. They all get a very low wage.

Which is why companies like Apple, Netflix & Microsoft charge customers differently depending on where they are from. It may be a good idea for the magic industry to adopt a similar policy.

Gy Fan (01/17/2024)

The movie industry which is a multi-billion dollar industry tried to combat piracy for decades but couldn't. They had all the financial resources they could ever wish for. The solution was a very simple one from the beginning: make access to entertainment so cheap that it becomes more convenient to watch content the right way. Now, for 120$ a year, one could watch any of the latest or classic movies they want, listen to the latest music and even read bestselling books, legally. If we had a similar subscription, no one would pay any attention to these pirates. People would rather support the creators instead. This is something that was bound to happen from the beginning. People want to know what they are buying. So many times they pay a lot only to discover that it is not practical or that they already have it. It is time we realised that magic isn't any different from toys and other forms entertainment. Overcharging customers is ethically wrong. Magicians on both sides should cooperate to create a more fair market.

Brett McCarron (02/12/2023)

Thanks for writing this, Chris. I applaud your efforts at reducing the amount of profit that goes into the pockets of the pirate site operators. What surprises me is that magicians are also trusting their payment and personal data used to complete their online orders with these pirates.