Pirates for freedom!

"Alms for Jihad" is already at $160.00 on ebay with three days to go.

Googling the book (including its download form) after reading several sickening accounts of the sucessful Saudi censorship campaign, I learned that a ton of people are looking for it, but no one has it for sale. Even the digital download places don't have it. I tried logging in and went through the whole sign-in process twice, only to be told it was "not available." A place called Mobibooks is said to be the only place that has it, but their website is down.

I'm so pissed that I feel like buying the damn thing and spending a couple of days scanning it, breaking the copyright laws, putting it out there for the world, and defying the Digital Millenium Copyright Pigs when they come to get me.

It strikes me that cowardly publishers ought to lose all moral rights to the copyrighted material they pull.

History, common sense, and the First Amendment all militate that that books which are burned belong in the public domain.

MORE: Lest anyone think this is only happening in England, the Salafist enemy will use our libel laws to defeat us right here in the United States:

Another similar case in America involves KinderUSA, a charity that is suing Yale University Press, charging that a book published last year by Michael Levitt called " Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad" (2006) linked the non-profit to support of terrorism.

Mr. Burr said of his co-authored book now, "Buy it, if you can find one," since it was now a collector's item.

The press release from Sheikh Mahfouz's law firm said he would donate the money from the settlement to the United Nations Children's Fund. Forbes magazine lists the sheikh's fortune at $3.1 billion, much of which derives from a sale of National Commercial Bank to the Saudi government in 2002.

KinderUSA? Hah! More on them here.

MORE: As of yesterday, KinderUSA seems to have withdrawn its lawsuit. For the children:

Our decision to withdraw the lawsuit was based on an assessment of our financial situation; because the needs of the Palestinian children are so great at this time, we decided to expend our resources in terms of time and energy on alleviating the desperate situation of our beneficiaries instead of on costly legal fees that would have ensued as this case proceeded.

This resolution is not satisfying to anyone with a sense of justice but it does safeguard the funds KINDER-USA urgently needs to fulfill its mission. With the ongoing blockade of Gaza, humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian children and their families continues with over 80% of the Gazan population reliant on outside food aid. Chronic malnutrition affects over 10% of children under the age of five in all of the occupied Palestinian territories, while in Gaza over 50,000 children are reported malnourished with more than 70% of 9-months old anemic. While families are being drip fed aid, over 10,000 children die each year mostly from preventable diseases and poor care for newborns.

I'm sure it's not satisfying for enemies of freedom to see censorship thwarted, even if temporarily.

Excuse me while I go puke.


Now that I'm back, more here on the KinderUSA stuff.

UPDATE: Thank ye, Glenn Reynolds, for linking this post! ARRH indeed! And welcome maties!

I do appreciate any and all advice or suggestions.

UPDATE: The American Library Association has issued an official statement, reading in part:

Unless there is an order from a U.S. court, the British settlement is unenforceable in the United States and libraries are under no legal obligation to return or destroy the book. Libraries are considered to hold title to the individual copy or copies, and it is the library's property to do with as it pleases. Given the intense interest in the book, and the desire of readers to learn about the controversy first hand, we recommend that U.S. libraries keep the book available for their users.
The Heretical Librarian is a good blog too. Check it out!

MORE: Alyssa A. Lappen, writing in FrontPageMag.com, explains why the Saudi censors are having trouble in the United States:

Justice Eady then ordered Ehrenfeld to apologize, retract, pay bin Mahfouz $225,913.37 in damages and destroy copies of her book.

A fearless U.S. citizen, published in the U.S., Ehrenfeld ignored the British default judgement. Rather than respond to false claims of libel, never tried on their merits, Ehrenfeld applied to the Southern District Court of New York to rule the U.K. court judgment unenforceable in the U.S.

On June 8, 2007, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals justices unanimously found that Ehrenfeld's case merits hearing in an U.S. federal court--and that the case has implications for all U.S. authors and publishers, whose First Amendment rights are threatened by foreign libel rulings.

The Second Circuit justices also took the unusual step of referring the matter of jurisdiction over bin Mahfouz to the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court --and underscoring its importance to other New York and U.S. authors.

The Second Circuit panel slammed bin Mahfouz again on June 27, 2007--unanimously denying his request to reconsider their decision on the merit of the case for trial in the U.S. And on June 28, the New York Court of Appeals agreed to hear the arguments on jurisdiction this autumn.

These rulings have already weakened bin Mahfouz' ability to conduct legal terrorism against U.S. authors and publishers.


posted by Eric on 08.18.07 at 05:18 PM


The classic way to get around copyright and libel is to have a senator read it into the senate proceedings. Senators are immune from libel while on the floor under the Speech and Debate clause, and the government helpfully publishes the proceedings. It's better than scanning and bit torrent since it makes the US Congress complicit in the publishing.

Ernst Blofeld   ·  August 18, 2007 9:16 PM

The reason KinderUSA dropped the lawsuit is that Yale Press fought back, they counter sued in California where they have anti-SLAPP laws where the loser has to pay all the attorney fee's of the defendant if they lose. http://www.nysun.com/article/60635 This is where I saw the story about them dropping the law suit. They had a very weak case and would have lost in California.

ronnor   ·  August 18, 2007 9:32 PM

Just as efficient, the congresscritter can speak for a minute or two and then ask to insert "extended remarks." Then he can insert a ton of written material.

Of course, either judiciary committee could also hold a hearing on suppression of free speech by suits of this type, and then reprint the book as part of the hearings.

David Hardy   ·  August 18, 2007 9:37 PM

FWIW, the University of Chicago (my Blessed Alma Mater) reports on its libraries website that it owns a copy (currently checked out; may be recalled) and I'm guessing that any number of other research libraries will have it available.

italtrav   ·  August 18, 2007 9:43 PM

Lets get a copy of this puppy and type it up...once its in digital format...they will be toast and will be around the world in 80 seconds.

mrbill   ·  August 18, 2007 9:56 PM

...ahh my blessed alma mater too David, I imagine someone will get it on demonoid.com or isohunt.com...at some point...

Orbit Rain   ·  August 18, 2007 9:59 PM

The E-book is available for the moment at


or http://tinyurl.com/37mb65

It's in the Mobipocket format, which is a relatively strong DRO encryption scheme. Once you download a copy it will only play on that particular machine - laptop, PDA, whatever. You can't print it, and you can only copy and paste about 12 words at a time.

Some of us are working on doing screen grabs and OCRing the entire book. There's a parallel effort to convert it using this method:


Hopefully one or the other will be done in a week or so. We invite anyone interested to duplicate our work - this is the first time we've tried to do this, and we may fail. The more people trying the better.

The encrypted file with text and a few illustrations is only 750k, so it will be easy to pass around as an email attachment.

We will also have a copy of the physical book next month. We will take a digital photograph of each page and stitch them together like the leaked Harry Potter book. Hopefully one of the other two methods will work, and the photos will only be an archive.

Anyone who is interested in participating is invited to join us at the "Alms For Jihad Fan Club" - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/almsforjihad/

Having it inserted in the Congressional Record is pure genius. Does anyone have a congresscritter with guts enough to do it?

A4J   ·  August 18, 2007 10:54 PM

I doubt KinderUSA was concerned about the financial implications of the anti-SLAPP suit. There's no end of oil wealth available "for the children," as long as it's in aid of martyrdom.

I'd wager what made them fold was the prospect of legal discovery. Not a situation you want to be in unless you're squeaky clean.

Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien   ·  August 18, 2007 11:10 PM

While it's tempting to say that a copyright owner that doesn't publish their work is abandoning rights to that work, the fact is that once you own intellectual property, it's yours to do pretty much as you wish with it and there's no legal obligation to commercially exploit that property.

That being said, I wish someone would indeed violate Cambridge Univ. Press' copyright and put Alms For Jihad online for free just to see what Cambridge would do. If they sued, the publicity about them spiking the book due to the lawsuit would not be favorable.

Bozoer Rebbe   ·  August 18, 2007 11:12 PM

If it is put online - how is Cambridge damaged? Sure, the can get an injuction to stop one individual from distributing e-copies of the book, but how could they get compensation when they haven't been impacted?

It doesn't affect their future book sales, they'd already agreed they wouldn't sell any more. It doesn't make the asset less valuable to a future owner, they agreed to never sell the rights.

I aint no lawyer, but I think to get damages you have to show you've been damaged.

Rich Riley   ·  August 18, 2007 11:39 PM

I've got a copy of the book (I think) from one of the sites you linked above. I don't, however, have the equipment to read it. (It requires a "mobipocket reader" whatever that is, and a PalmOS®, Windows® CE/ PocketPC® or Symbian™ handheld device, or a Franklin BOOKMAN® 1450 or 1850 series (none of which I have).

Any ideas?

David Rogers   ·  August 19, 2007 12:08 AM

Once the Mobipocket website is done with their maintenance and is open again, you can download a free copy of the Mobipocket reader from them.

The e-book was available at booksonboard.com yesterday, but it doesn't offer a "buy" button anymore.

Rich Riley   ·  August 19, 2007 12:33 AM

What used to be standard in book publishing was that if the volume went out of print and the publisher declined to republish, rights reverted to the author. These days, with digital rights and on-demand printing, publishers can easily keep something "in print" forever, no reversion. Obviously it would depend on the particular contract, but I wonder what happens to the publication rights in a case like this.

italtrav   ·  August 19, 2007 1:44 AM

A couple of things -

There's a comment on the Canadian Amazon listing for the book claiming that they've scanned all the pages in India, and are going to republish it there.

At Books on Board, where I got my e-copy, there's a notice:


For our Mobipocket readers only - Mobipocket format books cannot be downloaded at present. Mobipocket.com, our partner for this format, is down.

Our other three ebook formats and our audiobooks ARE WORKING the way they should.

Our paperbacks, hardcovers, DVDs and CDs are also NOT affected by this problem

The servers and website of our partner Mobipocket, a subsidiary of Amazon, went down Wednesday night, at approximately 8 p.m. CDT (US). As of 3:35 p.m. Central Daylight Time (US), Saturday, 18 August, Amazon's Mobipocket.com site is still down, now in its 68th hour of "maintenance." We are monitoring this round the clock.

Amazon tells us it are working hard to correct this. It has not disclosed the root of the difficulty nor has it yet provided an ETA for the solution. (In all the years that Mobipocket has been delivering ebooks, this is, as far as we can recall, the only incident of this magnitude.)

Currently, PIDs cannot be set up and Mobipocket format books cannot be downloaded because they are hosted by the Mobipocket server. Please look to here for updates.
The Mobipocket failure seems awfully convenient. They started advertising with Google keywords that you could get the book through them on Monday, and on Wednesday they're knocked off the net completely.

Rich Riley   ·  August 19, 2007 3:03 AM

IANAL, but if the book is not going to be sold to anyone else in the world, how would pirating it cost the publisher anything?

How could they prove damages? Does that mean you could do it and they could only sue you for $1, or is there some other rule that allows copyright holders to use the copyright to squelch a work completely?

Daryl Herbert   ·  August 19, 2007 7:16 AM

From correspondence with Books on Board, the E-book version was removed last Monday. Trying to get further copies via Mobipocket, even when they're back up and running, is a dead end.

Richard R   ·  August 19, 2007 12:23 PM

Eric: Without going into the specifics of any particular case mentioned above, just what is a person, libeled in a book, supposed to do? Suck it up and take it like a man?

Libel laws--whether restrictive as in the US or liberal as in the UK--serve to protect reputations.

In the particulars of the 'Alms' book, Bin Mafouz believe he was libeled. He sued in the court that that he believed would serve him best. That, to my knowledge, is not nefarious behavior, but rather smart. The fact that Cambridge U. apologized unreservedly must count for something. They said:

Whilst the allegations were originally published in good faith, Cambridge University Press now recognises that the information upon which they were based was wrong. Cambridge University Press accepts that there is no truth whatsoever in these serious allegations.

Cambridge University Press accepts that the entire Bin Mahfouz family categorically and unreservedly condemns terrorism in all its manifestations, and that at no time has any member of the family contributed to any terrorist organisation, nor has the family ever had reason to believe that funds it has given over the years to a wide variety of charities, including the Muwafaq Foundation, have been used other than for the charitable purposes intended.

Cambridge University Press has given its sincere apologies to Sheikh Khalid and his family for the distress and embarrassment caused, and has undertaken not to publish those allegations or any similar allegations in the future.

His other suits--excepting that involving Ehrenfeld, who didn't bother to mount a defense--have resulted in other apologies and admissions that allegations made in print could not be substantiated. (See my post On Libel, Truth, and Paranoia at Crossroads Arabia.)

Is truth, even if it goes against the zeitgeist, not a proper defense against libel?

There is a very good case to be made that the US, starting with our courts, needs to have a serious discussion about how far a judgment of a foreign court can reach into the US. One of the bases of that discussion must be the reach of US courts abroad. Right now, the US is asserting a pretty long reach for itself. (See Alien Torts Act and various state and local ordinances seeking to impose US laws on foreign actors.)

I'd like to see serious discussion about the topic, but not discussion which starts from the premise that if it involves a Muslim banker, it must be terrorism.

John Burgess   ·  August 19, 2007 4:07 PM

These are all interesting comments, especially the stuff about how to get the book. As to the libel case, I don't know the details, but I find it hard to believe the entire book was wrong, especially considering the authors' distinguished backgrounds.

What galls me is that I can't read it.

I wrote this post because I WANT TO READ IT, and I don't want some Saudi sheik telling me I can't. (Whether he's a terrorist or not.)

Eric Scheie   ·  August 19, 2007 8:00 PM

I've got a good quality scan (in PDF) of the whole book. Now where to host it?

B   ·  September 1, 2007 11:14 AM

Keep me posted. I'll be glad to link it. Or even upload it here if I can get away with it.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 1, 2007 2:32 PM

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