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unbiasedpassion
10-10-2008, 02:36 AM
I finished a novel that I wrote in 2006, and as soon as I did of course, I had a copyright. I registered that copyright with the U.S Copyright Office, and had been validated in June of that year.

The book has been given to many people, many of which provided feedback on the story, and insights into things that were wrong. In this process, I suppose one of these people gave the story to someone else, and that's where the whole thing begins.

Just about a week ago, I had found out that he was trying to sell the same EXACT copy online under an internet pseudonym. This person used a fake name and most likely a fake address to set up his attempt at self-publishing. As soon as I found out word, I told the company through their "live-chat" feature what was going on. IMO, right there they should have halted display of this book. Especially after I talked to the SECOND agent. Needless to say, I was disappointed when it took 36 hours for the material to be taken down. It does not matter though, I ended up getting a copy to show physical proof in a court of law. He is hard to find, but the company SHOULD have some kind of record of his address. The "author" had to get paid right? If they can't, I can show negligence on their part, can I not?

I do not like the fact that these companies issue copyrights and ISBN's like candy and without any investigation in the matter. This is so frustrating for an author, and it should be frustrating to anyone else who does self-publishing. If this were allowed to stand, I could literally take Hemmingway's work, put a few original pages at the beginning (just enough for a 12-page preview) and put the rest of Hemmingway's words in text. Even though my novels may not be as widely read or even as good as those best-selling authors, I deserve the same protection that they got when their works came out. To take away that right is fundamentally wrong and dangerous.

Another point is with this company, if they can not provide addresses and/or names in infringement cases, it shows me they are not taking affirmative steps to prevent such infringements. This guy could have all credit card receipts going to Zimbabwe for all we know, or it might be some address that's not even legitimate!

Therefore, I am thinking very hard about suing the website as well as the person who did the actual infringement. I believe I can find them liable for letting this stand, and not doing anything about it until much much later.

Of course, their claim will be that it was an "honest mistake" and that "this happened on a weekend", but that means little to me. An honest mistake is forgetting something that your wife needs for dinner at the store when you just got back home. An honest mistake is your friend spilling a soda in your car because you turned just a bit too hard. An honest mistake is NOT letting a book stand for 36 hours when you've got live-help going 24 hours a day. Honest mistakes would mean that you would be able to trace the person who did the original bad deed and get justice out of the whole thing.

Finally, the Supreme Court has issued an opinion on this kind of thing already:



"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties" METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC., et al.,PETITIONERS v.GROKSTER, LTD. (2005).


I realize this is slightly different, but it's the same kind of precedence.

Is there anything wrong with this line of thinking?

unbiasedpassion

PostScript: Sorry, the Supreme Court case did not come up as it should have. But it was quoted from my Microsoft Word.

FinbarReilly
10-10-2008, 09:26 AM
[Keep in mind that I'm no lawyer!]

1) Your lawyer should be able to get a subpoena that should allow you to find that address and/or how they would have payed him. That should be enough to give you a link on him, and hopefully be enough.

2)
"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster , is liable for the resulting acts ofinfringement by third parties"
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC., et al., PETITIONERS v. GROKSTER, LTD.
As per this, I'm not sure that there is enough to show that there was infringement. Although you may not have been happy with their lack of speed, I think that the distributor may be able to show that there was enough of a reaction to show that they were protecting their own interests and confirming your identity. You may want to serve some sort of injunction against them, as well as ask for for anything they were going to pay him.

In essence: Try to be fair; after all, you may be dealing with them. Even if you aren't planning n dealing with them, you need to keep in mind your reputation, and how you deal with this company may set the stage for another company later on. Also, that company needs to bear in mind its own reputation; if it isn't willing to deal fairly with authors, then it's shooting itself in the foot.

All in all, I wish you luck!

FR

ResearchGuy
10-14-2008, 12:00 AM
Talk to an intellectual-property attorney.

If you registered the copyright and your copyright has been infringed, you are eligible for statutory damages (including attorney's fees, I believe). Slam dunk for an attorney. I am not an attorney. Talk to one who specializes in intellectual property law.


I do not like the fact that these companies issue copyrights and ISBN's like candy and without any investigation in the matter.BTW, note that no one can "issue copyrights." That is not how it works. See www.copyright.gov (http://www.copyright.gov).

--Ken

veinglory
10-14-2008, 12:04 AM
It is pretty hard to interpret exactly what happened. From your description it could be anything from you aquaintance sellign the book to Publish America, to just slapping a copy up on a file sharing site--which would be quite a different set of circumstances.

jerrywaxler
10-14-2008, 01:33 AM
Had you distributed the electronic version of your book? That seems to be infinitely easier to bootleg than a paper one.

Jerry

circlexranch
10-14-2008, 03:17 AM
I am an attorney, but deal more in the area of 'vintage copyrights', those issued in the 1960s. However, your case sounds like it falls under the 'Digital Millenium Copyright Act.' A little google-fu will give you a copy of the statute.

In order to get full damages, you have to have a certificate of registration from the US Copyright Office. Without it, the best you can do is an injunction and any actual damages [ie - his profits].

buttterflywilma
10-21-2008, 07:11 AM
Wow what a nightmare!

Bo Sullivan
10-21-2008, 04:12 PM
Hi,

I hope you get it all sorted out soon.

Barbara

RobJ
10-22-2008, 01:17 AM
As soon as I found out word, I told the company through their "live-chat" feature what was going on. IMO, right there they should have halted display of this book. Especially after I talked to the SECOND agent. Needless to say, I was disappointed when it took 36 hours for the material to be taken down.

*snip*

Therefore, I am thinking very hard about suing the website as well as the person who did the actual infringement. I believe I can find them liable for letting this stand, and not doing anything about it until much much later.

Anyone can go on a live chat feature and claim that something is theirs. As distressing as it is, thirty-six hours isn't that long.

Before you start talking about suing anyone, best take legal advice.

Cheers,
Rob