Pirate Library Illegally Preserves Terabytes of Text

August 15, 2022

Call it the Robin Hood of written material. (The legendary outlaw, not the brokerage outfit.) The Next Web tells us about an effort to preserve over seven terabytes of texts in, “The Pirate Library Mirror Wants to Preserve All Human Knowledge … Illegally.” Delighted writer Callum Booth explains:

“The Pirate Library Mirror is what it says on the tin: a mirror of existing libraries of pirated content. The project focuses specifically on books — although this may be expanded in the future. The project’s first goal is mirroring Z-Library, an illegal repository of journal articles, academic texts, and general-interest books. The site enforces a free download limit — 10 free books a day — and then charges users when they go above this. Z-Library originally branched off another site serving illegal books, Library Genesis. The former began its life by taking the latter site’s data, but making it easier to search. Since then, the people running Z-Library have built a collection that includes many books not available on its predecessor. This is important because, while Library Genesis is easily mirrorable, Z-Library is not — and that’s where the Pirate Library Mirror comes in. Those behind the new project cross-referenced Z-Library with Library Genesis, keeping what was only on the former, as that hasn’t been backed up. This amounts to over 7TB of books, articles, and journals.”

Instead of engaging in the labor-intensive process of transferring those newer Z-Library files to Genesis, those behind the Pirate Library simply bundle it all across multiple torrents. Because this is more about preservation than creating widespread access, the collection is not easily searchable and can only be reached via TOR. Still, it is illegal and could be shut down at any time. Booth acknowledges the complex tension between information access and the rights of content creators, but he is also downright giddy about the project. It reminds him of the “old school” internet, a wonderland of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Ah, those were the days.

Cynthia Murrell, August 15, 2022

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