Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Dotcom site blasted for 'ripping off' NZ author

The ebook of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries was available on Mega.co.nz. Photo / AP
The ebook of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries was available on Mega.co.nz. Photo / AP

New Zealand's Publishers Association has criticised the Dotcom Mega website after it was found that Eleanor Catton's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries could be downloaded free.

Publishers Association president Sam Elworthy said everyone was proud of Catton's achievements on the world stage and to see her work given away without her consent by a fellow Kiwi company was "appalling".

"Mega should do more to ensure this kind of thing does not occur," he said.

Mega chief executive Vikram Kumar said two links to Catton's novel were taken down from the site yesterday morning.

"These were removed as the person uploading the files had apparently broken the law by doing so and the files were in violation of Mega's terms and conditions.

"Mega did so proactively, as an exception, without a formal notice from the copyright owner or their agent," Mr Kumar said.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom launched the Mega file-sharing site in January this year from his Coatesville mansion. He resigned as Mega company director in August to focus on other interests, including plans for a political party in New Zealand.

His wife, Mona, is a director of Mr KimDotcom Ltd and a director and shareholder in MD Corporate Trustee Ltd, the biggest shareholder in Mega.

Mr Elworthy said the discovery of Catton's work on the Mega site was the "tip of the iceberg".

"Just a few weeks ago we had to ask Mega to take down an entire educational textbook written by a New Zealand author ... which had been made available on their site. This type of illegal sharing is happening at an alarming rate and really hurting New Zealand creatives.

"While Eleanor Catton is doing big things for our international reputation, it's disappointing to see her being ripped off by a website which calls itself a New Zealand company," Mr Elworthy said.

Fergus Barrowman of Victoria University Press, which publishes The Luminaries, said the fact that a creative work was accessible on the internet free did not make it right to download it.

"We live in a digital age and authors and publishers recognise the changing nature of how readers want to access material.

"We made sure that The Luminaries was available as an e-book to New Zealand readers in a timely and accessible way, and we are delighted so many of them have taken advantage of this."

- APNZ

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