Major Book Publisher Files Mass-BitTorrent Lawsuit

John Wiley and Sons, one of the world's largest book publishers, have sued 27 BitTorrent users at a federal court in New York. The publisher claims that the defendants have shared copies of its "For Dummies" books without permission, and demands compensation. After several movie studios started filing lawsuits against BitTorrent users last year, Wiley is the first book publisher to take this kind of action.

dummiesSince early 2010 more than 200,000 people have been sued in the U.S. for sharing copyrighted works via BitTorrent. Thus far these lawsuits have been the exclusive territory of independent and adult film studios, but today they are joined by one of the world’s largest book publishers.

John Wiley and Sons have sued 27 Does at a federal court in New York for downloading and sharing copies of its “For Dummies” books using BitTorrent. The complaint (pdf), obtained by TorrentFreak, shows that all defendants allegedly shared the books on October 18 and 19 of this year.

Wiley argues that through the massive piracy that occurs on BitTorrent, their company is suffering severe losses that might cost several authors their jobs.

“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,” Wiley’s attorney writes.

“For example, BitTorrent users on a single site, demonoid.me, have downloaded one of the works that is the subject of this suit, ‘Photoshop CS 5 All-In-One FOR DUMMIES,’ more than 74,000 times since June 6, 2010,” the complaint adds.

Other pirated books listed in the complaint include familiar titles such as “AutoCAD 2011 for Dummies,” “Day Trading for Dummies”, “Calculus Essential for Dummies” and “Word Press For Dummies”. Interestingly, the popular “BitTorrent for Dummies” is not included.

Aside form the direct financial damage through copyright infringement, Wiley also claims that “counterfeit” copies of their books may result in damage to the company’s image.

“The damage to Wiley includes hark 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.”

“Wiley is also concerned that these unauthorized electronic editions of its works may be of inferior quality to the original versions,” the complaint reads.

The 27 defendants are all accused of copyright infringement, trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting, and the publisher demands to be compensated for the damage they have caused.

The court papers end with an overview of the 27 IP-addresses through which these titles were shared. These are all located in the State of New York according to the attorney.

Although Wiley’s suit can be classified as a mass-BitTorrent lawsuit, the complaint is quite different from the ones we’ve seen thus far. Also, Wiley has hired the law firm Dunnegan LLC which has no track record of filing similar cases.

At this point it is not clear whether Wiley is determined to take the 27 defendants to trial, or whether it will offer them settlements as we’ve seen in nearly all other cases thus far. However, there is little doubt that Wiley’s move to make a stand against book piracy will be watched closely by other book publishers.

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