When is it OK to download books online? | Read more

A federal judge said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice is allowing ebook downloading sites to continue operating under a legal loophole that allows them to evade copyright law.

The Justice Department in a brief filed in U.C. Davis, Calif., said the sites do not violate the DMCA or other laws prohibiting copyright infringement and are therefore allowed to continue to operate under a “deferred prosecution agreement.”

The Justice Department said the law allows for the downloading of books by individuals, businesses and educational institutions without needing to obtain a court order.

It said the companies do not have to comply with court orders to monitor the websites or stop the distribution of books.

In the past, the Justice Deportation has sued several of the companies for allegedly illegally selling ebooks, but that lawsuit was thrown out after the companies agreed to settle.

The companies said they intend to fight the order.

“These websites are the real villains,” said a Justice Department attorney, John Lacey.

“They have abused their legitimate business model to violate the law, and they should be held accountable.”

The ruling was a victory for consumers who have long complained about ebook piracy, and for the book publishers that have fought against the use of the Internet as a venue for illegal downloads.

The government said it had made it easier for book publishers to bypass copyright laws.