Publishers consult lawyers over magazine-sharing site

Some of Britain’s biggest magazine publishers are considering legal action against a website that threatens to be a magazine version of illegal online music sharing sites.

On Mygazines.com entire scanned issues of magazines from around the world are available to view in a digital format with page flipping and zoom technology.

A number of UK titles including GQ, FHM, Elle and Marie Claire are included on the site.

The Periodical Publishers Association has encouraged members to hit back at the site by sending legal letters to the PO box listed in its registration. But so far the trade body has failed to track down the owner of the site.

James Evans, senior legal executive at PPA, explained: ‘They’ve made themselves as difficult as possible to get hold of. It’s a case of smoke and mirrors – the website operator is registered in Anguilla in the Caribbean but the ISP, which we think may be hosting it, is based in the US. The main priority is to get the offending content off the website.”

FHM publisher Bauer Consumer Media has said its lawyers are looking into the issue, as have Hachette Fili­pacchi, IPC Media and Condé Nast.

Evans said: ‘The website’s terms and conditions have tried to make it so the users are liable for the content. I don’t think that stands up to much scrutiny.

‘Once the website owner is notified that the website is hosting infringing material they become liable if they don’t act expeditiously in removing the material. It’s EU law.”

Barrister Christina Michalos of 5 Raymond Buildings, who specialises in copyright, said: ‘With these sorts of websites, the site itself claims it is just providing a neutral service and the copyright infringement is not their activity but that of the users. Courts so far have not been sympathetic to the argument.”

She added: ‘It’s just a matter of time before it gets taken down.”

Jamie Bill, publishing director at GQ magazine (which appears in full on the site) said: ‘Creators have to be rewarded for their efforts – GQ will always ensure it protects its interests, which of course includes ensuring our writers and photographers are fairly remunerated.”

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