April 15, 2014

Textbook Publishers Settle Counterfeit Claims

Cengage Learning, John Wiley and Sons, Pearson Education, and McGraw-Hill Education settled five copyright and trademark infringement claims related to counterfeit textbooks, the companies announced recently.

The five distributors who agreed to settle the publishers’ claims are: Kentwood Industries in California, Texas Book Company in Texas, Sterling Educational Media in Florida, Davis Textbook in California, and ABSnext Corporation (formerly Budgetext Corporation) in Arkansas. The settlements call for payments totaling more than $2.6 million dollars, as well as agreements not to engage in infringement in future.

The counterfeits, primarily produced in Asia, weren’t detected by U.S. Customs. Rather, the publishers were made aware of them by consumers and distributors in this country, according to Matt Oppenheim of Oppenheim + Zebrak, LLP, who represented the publishers.

According to Oppenheim this wasn’t a case like Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, currently before the Supreme Court, in which the books were printed by Wiley Asia but then resold in America without permission. “These books were counterfeit – completely unauthorized and illegal. That is to say that somebody took legitimate copies of the publishers U.S. Edition books, scanned them into a computer, and then printed their own versions for sale. Apart from the images and print being from a scanned version, and different paper being used, the counterfeits also occasionally omitted pages,” he said.

The publishers are pursuing legal action, both criminal and civil, against other individuals and companies for similar conduct. Oppenheim told LJ, “The authorities have been notified regarding some of these activities. With respect to others, the Publishers are pursuing their rights in civil litigations and settlement discussions.”

It’s hard to tell just how endemic textbook counterfeiting is. “While the publishers have identified thousands of these counterfeit books, they do not fully represent the scope of the problem given that this type of criminal behavior often happens behind closed doors,” said Oppenheim. And that does not even take into account pirated scans that are not printed, as was recently reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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