Australia labels Microsoft a pirate

An Australian site owned by Microsoft and Nine sold e-book readers bundled with thousands of pirated books including the full Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series, it has been alleged.

NSW Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts is furious with the site and and says that group-buying sites cannot simply blame vendors when they are caught running dodgy deals.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, HarperCollins, publisher of some of the major titles contained on a CD being sold on the site, is unleashing its legal hounds. advertised a $99 e-book reader that came with ”4,000 e-books you can load from a CD”.

It was such a good deal that thousands signed up for it. However, before anything was shipped, the site discovered the books were pirated.

It is somewhat amazing given that it was fairly obvious the titles were still under copyright and available in stores. Australian Booksellers Association chief executive Joel Becker said it was deeply concerning to see Channel Nine and Microsoft involved. These were two organisations where “copyright protection is a major issue to them.”

The site’s chief executive, Mike Sneesby, said the merchant of this deal had breached the terms of their Cudo booking agreement. Cudo took action to replace the merchant’s product with a higher quality device and provide customers with a new source of legitimate e-book content.

However, Roberts said that was not good enough as group buying sites could not walk away from quality or compliance of the goods and services sold through their sites.

Microsoft could find itself in the embarrassing position of having to defend itself against ebook piracy.