The Largest Pirate in Downloads for Magicians
by Chris WasshuberIn 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 PirateThe 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 DoIf 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.
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.