Saturday, December 9, 2023

Z-library’s take down left users in shock, anger

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Z library, an online platform for all book enthusiasts and students for downloading free e-books is no longer operating after US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seizes the website domain.

On Friday, when the readers tried to log in to the website, an unusual bannerpopped up which read, “This domain has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in accordance with warrant issued pursuant to 18 U.S.C & 981 (b) and 21 U.S.C. & 853 (f) by the United States District Court for the Eastern District Of New York as a part of a law enforcement action by: The United Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and The Federal Bureau of Investigation,”demarcating the end of an era, a journey of a platform.

What is Z library?

Online pirated e-book database, also recognised as shadow library, Z library had proved to be a boon to the people with its easy and convenient accessibility features. Users had access to more than 10 million e-books cost-free but with a limited number of monthly downloads, to have access to more, a nominal fee was required. Non paying users could download up to 5 books a day on the website. 

Books were available on a vast array of subjects from bestselling popular novels to unreleased advance reader copies or academic books or documents, from journals to magazines, you name it and z library had it.

As per the data, the website had been active in this field of pirated database since 2009. Around 11,087,784 books and 84,937,645 articles were available on Z library this September.

“Zlibrary getting taken down is probably the worst thing to ever happen to me,” read a tweet by user Samia. Her tweet was retweeted by more than 1300 users and liked by more than 10000 users.

“zlibrary getting taken down feels like the burning of the library of alexandria of our time,” another user tweeted.

The library had been serving as a source of public sphere where large number of audience was catered to for both academic and entertainment purposes. Knowledge enrichment, information access and amusement, all such demands have been successfully fulfilled by  Z-library.

But whereas, it has been serving a forum for knowledge, it too has been a place in question, as the pirated concept of shadow libraries has been a subject of criticism, most publishers stand against such platforms as LibGen, Z-library, SciHub, among others, claiming they violate copyright laws and don’t attribute the authors of the same well enough. 

What led to its downfall?

Though there has been no exact reason to pin point for the shutdown of the library but many reasons build up to it can be stated for the same. One of the messages read as, “the online platform was shut down by US Postal Inspection Service followed by a court order” but as a response to the same, US Postal Inspection Service wrote, “this case was inadvertently credited to Postal Inspectors, and directed media requests be sent to the Department of Justice.”

Some Z-library users also reported getting messages from the website stating, the shutdown was a result of server block by one of the hosting providers and not a governmental crackdown.

Mostly, as aforementioned, the reasons for the downfall of the website are told to be copyright infringement. Basically what excites audience the most has thereby turned out to be the reason for its takedown. Calling out the website illegal and unethical platform, many internet sources called it out and appreciated its takedown.

Alternatives to Z library

Where Z library no longer seems to function, users need not to feel homeless as there still exist alternatives for e-books and other documents.

Some of them are: LibGen, SciHub, Ebook3000, The Anarchist Library, EbookSearcher, FreeBookSpot, LibreTexts among others.

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Vaishnavi Rastogi
Vaishnavi Rastogi
Vaishnavi is a student of journalism at Kalindi College, University of Delhi and editorial intern with Maktoob.
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