Audiobook pirate still afflicts authors after being kicked out for selling honey *TorrentFreak

In July 2021, Norwegian news service reported (paid wall) on the fate of Fabel, a local platform dedicated to the distribution of audio books.

The report stated that large parts of the Fabel catalog were distributed for free on an anonymous pirate site. The publication managed to track down Russian Nikita Volgin, who claimed to have ties to the platform.

Volgin blames editors for substandard service

“As a user, I think Fabel has a pretty expensive subscription and at the same time offers a poor quality service full of flaws,” Volgin said in his interview last year.

“I’m a bit unsure, but there may not be a free option to listen to Norwegian audiobooks online. That’s why I think the [pirate] website is a successful and useful project.

Volgin, then 37, reportedly owned a honey production business in Kviteseid, a municipality in Telemark, Norway. However, the company also owned dozens of domains related to audiobook piracy.

At the time, Volgin insisted he was not directly behind the audiobook piracy site. Instead, he claimed to be an SEO expert, skills he used to make the platform more visible. He also revealed that Norway effectively deported him in 2020 after selling honey without a work permit. This meant he had to leave his family in the country, something he was clearly bitter about.

“We will destroy the audiobook industry”

“So now Norway gets what Norway deserves,” Volgin said, referring to his expulsion. “Along with my colleagues, I will destroy the entire industry involved in recording and selling audiobooks.”

But aggravating publishers and selling honey illegally weren’t Volgin’s only run-ins with the law.

In 2011, he was convicted in Russia for hacking the website of football club FC Zenit or, more specifically according to this Sophos report, hijacking its DNS. He admitted wrongdoing, but said he was politically motivated.

A decade later, his name was again mentioned in court, this time in Norway. Fabel and Forlagshuset Vigmostad & Bjørke, Norway’s fourth-largest publisher, reported the Volgin-connected pirate audiobook site to the police after its corporate branding was displayed on the platform.

Volgin ordered to remove audiobooks, Whack-a-Mole ensues

A Telemark District Court ruling last July ordered Volgin to remove all audiobooks from the pirate site. He was also ordered to hand over his computers and electronic equipment. Police then made seizures at an address in Telemark.

Since then, it appears the police have failed to shut down the platform, a situation that audiobook publisher Lydbokforlaget finds distressing.

“The case is uncomfortable. We have used significant resources to stop this over the past year,” publishing manager Ann-Kristin Vasselen told

Although they have managed to temporarily shut down what they believe to be the same website, it is reappearing under new domains, along with two others currently in operation.

“We see there is an intensity to this as websites constantly appear with small changes in domain names,” police investigation chief Bård Teigen told VG. “We take the matter seriously, such cases are difficult for our social systems.”

“Just a joke” – Not so, the police insist

In a recent email interview with VG, Volgin, now 38, said his declaration of war on the audiobook industry was just a joke and that some free audiobooks should be available on the Norwegian market.

“Actually, I think it’s unfair that the industry in a prosperous country like Norway can’t offer the public a small selection of free audiobooks. It can be called a charity project,” he says.

Regarding the district court’s decision requiring him to remove the audiobooks from the website, Volgin says the court erred in claiming he owned them.

“It doesn’t belong to me personally, so I can’t be entirely responsible for it. We have a team working on the project,” he says.

According to the police, the operation to support the site, which falls under several areas, is international. One server was shut down in Hong Kong and another in the United States. Volgin says he currently lives in Ukraine.

“We have contacted the owners of the domain names to have the two new pages shut down, but this is time consuming and complicated. There are also a lot of new things that we need to familiarize ourselves with,” says police investigator Bård Teigen.

A lawyer acting for the publishers says he appreciates Volgin’s deportation from Norway has made the case more complex, but they insist that since the website targets Norway, the police should do something about it. ‘Stop.

Police said they are pursuing the case with multiple charges in mind – identity theft, illegal use of company information on the illegal site, as well as violations of the law on copyright punishable by up to three years in prison.

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