Book publisher demands BitTorrent jury trial


A global book publisher has demanded that four people face piracy charges for allegedly using peer-to-peer network BitTorrent to share its titles online.

John Wiley & Sons, one of the world’s biggest book publishers, has filed papers in the US District Court for the Southern district of New York. Two of the digital titles are WordPress for Dummies and Hacking for Dummies. Another title, priced at £28, has been downloaded 74,000 times in a 16-month period.

Wiley’s action follows 15 lawsuits it has initiated since October 2011 to obtain the identities of about 200 accused Internet pirates; four of these people are named as defendants. It said it has tried to settle the cases out of court to stop the alleged illegal downloading.

The company’s lawyer, William Dunnegan, said many of the 200 people have owned up and have paid damages under the US Copyright Act. But he said the four named defendants, all residents of New York, have not complied.

The music and film industries have typically taken a different approach to piracy, pursuing Internet service providers (ISPs) instead of individual file-sharers.

One benefit of taking direct action against end users in the US, rather than the UK, is the higher damages available. Under the US Copyright Act, courts can impose fines of up to $150,000 per infringement. In the UK, the maximum fine is £5,000 ($8,100).

Rebecca Swindells, a partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP in London, said rights owners and courts are shifting from targeting ISPs to targeting end users, in order to tackle illegal file-sharing at its source. She added, though, that some of the most “significant” EU cases covering online piracy, such as that involving Newzbin, showed that brands can have success against ISPs.

Swindells said taking direct action against consumers could deter those who are “minor infringers”. But the more committed infringers, who download on “a massive scale”, will be less likely to willing to pay for what they use.

She added: “All around the world, governments, courts, legislators and industry bodies are trying to work out the most effective methods to counter illegal file sharing and downloading, but we are still no closer to finding the best solution."

This article was first published on 01 May 2012 in World IP Review

publishing, BitTorrent, John Wiley & Sons, online piracy

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