eBook Pirates Plunder from Publishers with Illegal Downloads

Digital pirates in search of free reading material are turning to illicit download sites where they can obtain copyrighted eBooks free of charge. The obvious allure for eBook pirates is just like anything else -- free treasure -- but in addition to not having to fork over pieces of eight, pirates are attracted to getting their hands on copies of unreleased books.

One of those books is "77 Shadow Street" by Dean Koontz, which is available to order in the U.S. but won't be released in the U.K. until January 19, 2012. According to a report in the U.K.'s Daily Mail, up to 20 percent of all eBook downloads are now illegally obtained, presenting a growing problem for publishers, as well as Amazon, which takes a 30 percent cut of all eBook sales on its site.

"With a Kindle there is pretty much no protection against pirated books. There are programs which can simply convert any piece of text into the proper format and it will show on your Kindle as if you had bought it!," a pirate website posted, according to Daily Mail.

The Publishers Association is fighting back by threatening legal action against websites that serve up illegal eBook downloads, but it's an uphill battle that keeps getting steeper. The organization sent out 115,000 legal threats to such websites in 2011, up 130 percent compared to 2010.