Pirate e-book site goes dark, boarded by the feds

Z-Library, a popular pirate e-book site, was shut down by the Department of Justice.

As Fast Company's Jude Kramer reports, "The exact circumstances of Z-Library's shutdown are still unclear. Some of its many domain names simply won't load. Others lead to a message reading: "This domain has been seized by the United States Postal Inspection Service in accordance with a court order." However, in response to a request for comment, the Postal Inspection Service wrote that "this case was inadvertently credited to Postal Inspectors," and directed media requests be sent to the Department of Justice (The DOJ declined Fast Company's request for comment.)."

TikTok is the culprit for the most recent enthusiasm for Z-Library. The Author's Guild has been a vocal critic of these sites: "The hashtag #zlibrary on popular social media platform TikTok has 4 million views, in reference to the countless videos posted by college and high school students and others across the world promoting it as the go-to place for free ebooks," the Guild wrote, adding, "So far there have not been any significant enforcement actions against Z-Library of which we are aware."

Controversially "all the rave," like Napster in its heyday, there are other pirate sites on the high seas of printed knowledge.

For a brilliant book about motley crews, radical democracy, and anti-capitalism, check out Villians of all Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age by Marcus Rediker.

"This novel interpretation shows how sailors emerged from deadly working conditions on merchant and naval ships, turned pirate, and created a starkly different reality aboard their own vessels. At their best, pirates constructed their own distinctive egalitarian society, as they elected their officers, divided their booty equitably, and maintained a multinational social order.

This unprecedented social and cultural history of pirates proves that the real lives of this motley crew – which included cross-dressing women, people of color, and the "outcasts of all nations" – are far more compelling than contemporary myth. Pirates challenged and subverted prevailing conventions of race, class, gender, and nation, posing a radical democratic challenge to the society they left behind. They dared to play the rebellious villain on a floating international stage. The authorities hanged them for it, but the pirates triumphed in the end, winning the battle for the popular imagination in their own day and in ours."

Long live the motley crew!