Readers Respond to “Book Pirates!” published July 18, 2006, which discussed Kessinger Publishing’s copyright theft.
A fine depiction of your copyright problem. Since the damages occurred where you live, how about filing for the max in small claims court—separately—against all parties involved. That way they have to show up in your local court, without lawyers and at the mercy of your neighborhood judge. Subpoena their records relevant to the infringements. If they don’t supply them, they lose. Very unlikely they’ll want to show up and, if not, they lose. You can usually collect via local sheriffs or similar. My guess is that you’ll get some response prior to the court dates. Not my preference as I try to be nicer than I have to be, but it’s what I WOULD do if things had reached this point. Good luck!
Many thanx for taking the time to write. With this 2x-a-week e-zine, I have turned into a workaholic. I simply have not got spare time to diddle around in court. The ideal scenario would be for a lawyer to take this on and we split any money 50-50. That’s half for the lawyer and half for my stepmother. Beyond that, let’s see if this rattles any cages in the publishing world. Me, I doubt it.
It is a shame that the publishing industry does not have an industry consortium as willful as the RIAA. It is an even bigger shame that only through relentless lobbying (as the RIAA did) will our lawmakers lift a finger to protect the rights of the owners of intellectual property. Sounds like you need to start a blog and take to task Kessinger and Lightning Source for such unethical practices.
I sent an e-mail to Kessinger registering my disgust. I am sorry to hear that your stepmother was taken advantage of and that Kessinger did not stop publishing and pay her the royalties.
A few years ago Newsweek was sued because some of their artists scanned in photos and altered them for a front cover. The Supreme Court agreed that the source of the originals was indeed used without consent and Newsweek paid big time. Here’s the major problem with intellectual property. It is the owner/originator/creator/etc’s job to prove infringement. Then the first approach to the infringer is cease and desist. If you can prove and win a case against a persistent encroacher then the court most likely will take any award the jury decides and triple it. Big payout for attorneys and validation for the plaintiff. Oh, that’s only good in America. If the violator is in China (i.e., video knock offs being sold in Chinatown) good luck. I learned this with my new patent. When I offer it for license, it is up to the user to police their industry and prevent any infringement.
FYI, you might be interested in knowing about the Copyright Clearance Center, copyright.com. I know of them but have no personal experience. You mentioned the U of F library. Consider the possibility that a U of F professor assigns your father’s book as a class text. The prof would likely turn to the library’s copy and duplicate it for his students. While educational uses may be considered fair use, the textbook market is itself, as you know, a huge segment in the publishing industry. As I understand it, what the prof should do is notify the copyright clearance center and pay the appropriate duplication rights fees, which then theoretically will be paid to the copyright holder. Though I doubt there is much revenue potential, they also supposedly take fees from foreign publishers of U.S. material, as well as corporations who make copies, uses you may also want to look into.
Many thanx for writing. Valuable info. You probably recall the time that Kinko’s was hung out to dry in a copyright case (Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko’S Graphics Corporation, 758 F. Supp. 1522, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, March 28, 1991). Professors would photocopy various chapters from various books and then put them all together as their own unique course book, pay Kinko’s to print and bind them, the students would purchase them—but with no royalties to the various copyright holders of the different chapters. Real stinky-poo that cost Kinko’s a bundle. According to Tim Phillips in his book “KNOCKOFF: The Deadly Trade in Counterfeit Goods,” one out of every three CDs on the planet is counterfeit.
Your story about book pirating is fascinating, though I am sorry your dad’s book was pirated. How widespread is the problem of publishers cheating authors? I had thought that it was mainly the small publishers.
I am not sure how many are cheating authors. I was cheated by a publisher—a small guy. I finally wrote him 10 years later and demanded some royalties, and we settled for $6,000. How much he kept, I do not know. Sorry to be vague here.
Re book pirates: My recommendation would be to send copies of your findings and your article to Amazon and all the legit’ book sellers and ask them to stop doing business with suspect book publishers.
Thank you, Denny, for your timely article. I recently (released: July 2, 2006) published my first book, “Dying Body, Growing Faith,” through Xulon Press, a POD publisher of Christian books. Sales rankings on Amazon.com seem to be doing well; there was also a major conference of Christian retailers last week. It’s being sold abroad and, of course, re-sold--this makes me wonder if there may have been the purchase of one copy & then subsequent ones scanned. Hmmm.) But my question to you is, how do I get current sales stats so I know how my marketing’s going? My publisher says it can’t handle in this way at this time; we have to wait for quarterly reports. Amazon says this is too competitive a business so all we offer is sales rankings (still, how to interpret these?) (Xulon does use Ingram; I’ve yet to get a hold of them.) As a more experienced author, do you have any guidance on this matter? (I am the copyright holder; I did file with the U.S. copyright holder.) Thank you.
Check out the following: http://www.fonerbooks.com/amazon.htm/. Good hunting.
No need to respond. Just wanted to say thank you for a great story and your Business Common Sense emails. Your work is read and appreciated. Book Pirates of an Amateur Web Sleuth was excellent. I remember years ago, a friend wanted to get even with someone that screwed him. He went to a magazine newsstand and to one of those racks at the grocery store, and picked up three each of every magazine subscription form he could find. At magazine retail locations, the little 4” by 6” postcards are all over the place, having fallen out of the magazines. He printed up labels of the offending party’s address, prepared over 200 postcards and mailed them. I laughed, because that person is probably still on everybody’s junk list, along with receiving hundreds of unwanted magazines each month. Unfortunately, the magazine publishers got hurt with the loss of a few magazines each, but the offender must have been inundated with mail.
Thanx for writing. Many years ago my old Army colleague, Calvin (Bud) Trillin, wrote a piece I think in The New Yorker bitching about magazine blow-ins and suggested readers send the cards back to the magazines sans order but thanking them for making the offer. This would cost them reply postage money but generate zero subscriptions. I was so pissed off, I suggested to my readers of WHO’S MAILING WHAT! that they take all the blow-ins they could find from Conde Nast magazines (of which The New Yorker is one) and write, “Calvin Trillin says hello,” and drop them in the mail. It caused enuff of a stir that a son of Si Newhouse called me and asked me to quit.
Could you explain this ‘work-for-hire’ agrement that you brought up in this issue — Thanks
—Wendell A. Clark
Thanx for writing. Work for hire is simply an agreement that a writer or designer signs agreeing to do a creative assignment for some kind of financial arrangement and the client owns all rights to the work outright and can use it any way he or she wishes forever and the creator has no claim on it whatsoever.
To see a work for hire contract, check out http://www.copylaw.com/forms/Workhire.html . Cheers.