The Ministry of Justice issued a decision on Wednesday calling two Russian nationals for using one of the largest sellers of fraudulent e-books on the Internet.
Anton Napolsky, 33, and Valeriia Ermakova, 27, were arrested on November 3 in Cordoba, Argentina, at the request of the US government, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The two were charged in late October.
A spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York said the defendants were “not in US custody,” declining to comment further.
The pair are accused of copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering for running Z-Library, which bills itself as “the world’s largest library” and says it offers 11 million e-books for download.
The popular fake book platform went viral earlier this month when its users were arrested in Argentina. In addition to its home page, Z-Library operated a network of approximately 250 websites. The Justice Department said these websites were taken down and seized by the US government.
Operating since around 2009, Z-Library offered millions of titles, was stripped of security, and encouraged users to download and upload books, according to court documents. In most cases, headlines were uploaded to the site within hours of publication, according to Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The so-called “shadow library” allowed users to download a few titles per day without creating an account. “Donations” of $1 or more enabled users to upgrade to a “premium”.
“Therefore, the main purpose of Z-Library is to allow users to download free of charge books that are copyrighted by US law,” the plaintiff said.
Undercover FBI agents investigating the Z-Library requested and received through the e-mail records and had their protection waived, according to the complaint.
The plan “caused significant harm” to authors, publishers, author centers, independent bookstores, major bookstores and authorized e-book sellers, the complaint says.
“By making millions of copyrighted works available online for free, while encouraging users to pay for Z-Library add-ons, Z-Library has robbed people of the fruits of their labor – which, in some cases, represents years or decades of work.” – for Napolsky and Ermakova to benefit, “he said.
In a statement, Michael Driscoll, assistant director of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said: “Theft of intellectual property deprives victims of their skills and hard-earned income.”