$7,000 Damages for Sharing a “For Dummies” Book on BitTorrent

A man and woman from New York have been ordered to pay $7,000 in damages for downloading a "For Dummies" eBook using BitTorrent. New York Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain ordered a default judgment against the pair for infringing the copyright and trademark of major book publisher John Wiley and Sons. The recent verdicts pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of dollars movie pirates had to pay last year.

for dummiesLate 2011 John Wiley and Sons became the first book publisher to go after BitTorrent users in the U.S.

In the months that followed Wiley filed more than a dozen mass BitTorrent lawsuits involving a few hundred John Doe defendants in total.

The Does are all accused of sharing digital copies of titles including “Hacking for Dummies,” “Wordpress for Dummies” and “Cooking Basics for Dummies.”

Wiley’s lawyer previously told TorrentFreak that their intention is to settle these cases with the alleged infringers for an undisclosed amount. However, more recently the book publisher also requested default judgments against those who failed to respond.

Two of these defendants were subjected to a default judgment yesterday by New York Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Tammy Roberts of Clifton Springs, New York, was sentenced for sharing “Photoshop CS5 All-In-One For Dummies” and Fred Burgos of Brooklyn, New York, for sharing “Herb Gardening For Dummies” on BitTorrent. Both have to pay a total of $7,000 in damages, the amount as requested by Wiley.

Interestingly, Wiley accused the BitTorrent users of both copyright and trademark violations. $5,000 of the damages were attributed to copyright infringement and the other $2,000 to trademark infringement.

According to the complaint Wiley is worried that pirated copies may damage the “For Dummies” brand as they may be of inferior quality or bundled with viruses.

“The damage to Wiley includes harm to its goodwill and reputation in the marketplace for which money cannot compensate. Wiley is particularly concerned that its trademarks are used in connection with unauthorized electronic products, which could contain malicious viruses,” it reads.

While the defendants certainly didn’t get off lightly, the damages awards against them pale in comparison to three other default judgments that were handed down in recent months. In Illinois three men had to pay $1.5 million each for sharing seven to ten movies using BitTorrent.

Despite the victory for Wiley it is uncertain whether the book publisher will continue to press action against BitTorrent users. Many of their mass BitTorrent lawsuits have been dismissed recently and Wiley hasn’t filed any new ones since September last year.

But then again, with the prospect of millions of dollars in settlements and default judgments, there are plenty of other copyright holders to fill that void.

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