LendInk is a site that allows users to lend ebooks to one another. Or it was. At the time of writing, the site is down and the cause seems to be a campaign by various authors to have their own titles removed from the site. But this isn’t a case of piracy, because it looks like LendInk was doing nothing wrong. In fact, authors whose titles appeared on the site had in most (maybe even all) cases expressly authorised such a move. So did authors overreact and force a legitimate site offline?
Most books published via Amazon and Barnes & Noble allow readers to loan a digital copy of that book, one time only. Sites like LendInk seem to facilitate the connection of people who have a copy to loan and people who would like to borrow that copy. You can argue that this is against the spirit of the loan system, but it’s in no way against the law or even against the terms of service of either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It’s complex, but as far as I can see LendInk was doing absolutely nothing wrong.
An important point to note is that LendInk wasn’t lending any books itself. It was facilitating the lending of books by readers. Yet some authors accused the site (wrongly, it seems) of all sorts of things, including piracy. This might be another case of people signing agreements with sites (such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and not really understanding what they’ve just done, because there seems to be no reason to have gone after LendInk in this way. So did legitimate fears of piracy lead to a mis-informed campaign against an innocent website? Here’s a post by April L. Hamilton that goes into more detail and suggests there’s been an injustice.