November 2, 2011

Wiley declares war on pirates

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Few, if any, publishers have gone after pirates the way John Wiley & Sons has. Now, the company has cranked it up a notch further.

As Jim Milliot reports in a Publishers Weekly story, the company “filed a copyright infringement suit last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York involving 27 “John Does” the publisher claims are illegally copying and distributing its For Dummies books through the use of Bit Torrent file sharing software.”

As Milliot notes, it’s not the first time the company has gone to the court system to combat “copyright infringers,” but it is “the first time it has filed suit where it does not know the identity of the actual pirates, or, as the spokesperson put it, this is the first time the company has waged legal action in the ‘Bit Torrent environment.’”

According to another report from Torrent Freak, Wiley attorneys write in the filing that “Defendants are contributing to a problem that threatens the profitability of Wiley. Although Wiley cannot determine at this time the precise amount of revenue that it has lost as a result of peer-to-peer file sharing of its copyrighted works though BitTorrent software, the amount of revenue that is lost is enormous.”

T0 back up the charge, the filing notes that one Wiley title, Photoshop CS 5 All-In-One FOR DUMMIES, was downloaded “more than 74,000 times.”

PW, meanwhile, reports that “the lawsuit is part of its overall anti-piracy program” that has four parts: “education and deterrence: legislative; enforcement and litigation; and finding new business models to avoid business disruptions.” In the case of the Bit Torrent filings, explains a Wiley spokesperson, “Our objective is to approach them and to settle if they will agree to stop the infringement, sign a release to that effect, and agree to pay modest compensation.”

Judging by the comments beneath the PW piece, it looks like the rest of the business wants to string ‘em up.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.

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