Suing copyright violators had had such terrific results for the music, movie, and newspaper industries that it’s only natural publishers would step up to take a shot. John Wiley & Sons has filed suit against 27 BitTorrent sharers of its “For Dummies” books.
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.
So, naturally, Wiley rushes out to spend more money on lawsuits that history has shown will probably not make back the cost of litigating them. Oh, sure, there will probably also be a deterrent effect as people in the USA stop sharing Wiley books—but it’s not clear how effective it will be, since the titles will still be available from sharers in foreign countries, including non-Berne signatories, where Wiley’s suits won’t reach as easily.
Not that it’s really a surprise. Wiley has been one of the more outspoken companies against piracy. In 2009 it started using the Attributor content-tracking service to identify unauthorized postings of its content on the web, and also mentioned that it employed a full-time staff of three to fight piracy. I suppose if any publisher were to start suing over BitTorrent, it would be Wiley.
Wiley might consider taking a leaf from the notebook of fellow tech publisher Tim O’Reilly, who offers all his books DRM-free and doesn’t get too bothered over piracy because most pirates wouldn’t have bought the books anyway.
Perhaps after this is over, we’ll see Wiley publish “File-Sharing Litigation for Dummies”.