TAA Council passes resolution on textbook counterfeiting

Don't buy counterfeit textbooksThe TAA Council has passed a resolution on textbook counterfeiting that details a variety of actions the association will be taking to combat the issue, including educating the public about the problem, and broadening understanding of the negative ramifications of the use of counterfeit copies.

Counterfeit textbooks are “affecting the textbook marketplace and causing substantial losses of revenue for publishers and of royalties for authors and driving up the price of textbooks,” the resolution states. “Appropriate compensation for the work of textbook publishing is essential to ensure that both publishers and authors can continue to deliver excellent educational resources.”

The TAA Council Resolution on Textbook Counterfeiting was passed unanimously on June 27, 2017 in support of a complaint filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York by three higher education publishers – Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education – against a major textbook distributor for copyright and trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting.

TAA endorses the publishers’ efforts “to pursue through litigation their respective claims against those college textbook distributors and resellers that engage willfully or recklessly in the purchase and resale of counterfeit textbooks,” states the resolution.

The publishers allege these companies are distributing unlawful counterfeit copies of their educational textbooks in violation of federal copyright and trademark laws. According to the complaint: “Defendants regularly look to unknown and unverified sources for cheap books in order to maximize their profits, too often purchasing counterfeits that they turn around and sell or rent to the public.” Read the full complaint.

“The TAA Council has begun to look into the issue of counterfeit textbooks, with an eye toward the impact on authors,” said Michael Spinella, TAA’s executive director. “While we can’t judge the legal merits of the case, we are confident that this is an issue of considerable significance to textbook authors and publishers alike. All authors should make an effort to learn more about the issue, and if you have anecdotes or evidence about how counterfeiting may have impacted your own work or your classroom, we’d like to hear about it.” If you have anecdotes or concerns to share, please email them to Info@TAAonline.net.

TAA’s resolution outlines several actions the association supports to combat counterfeiting, including:

  • Educating the public about the problem and broadening understanding of the negative ramifications of using counterfeit products.
  • Assisting distributors and booksellers with more effectively identifying counterfeit copies and to develop a practice and an expectation that they will strive to identify and remove counterfeit copies prior to their introduction in the marketplace.
  • Enforcing existing laws against the violation of copyright and trademark rights with respect to counterfeit works.

View the TAA Council Resolution on Textbook Counterfeiting

Additional resources on textbook counterfeiting:

Cengage, MHE, and Pearson Sue Follett Over Counterfeit Book Sales
Cengage Announces Major Initiative to Fight Growing Problem of Counterfeit Course Materials
Three Publishers, Two Distributors: Combatting Counterfeit Print Textbooks
Stop Counterfeit Books
Information about the lawsuit by Cengage McGraw-Hill and Pearson
Follett’s response
An article on CollegeFocus, “Is my textbook counterfeit?” that details how to spot a counterfeit textbook

About Kim Pawlak

Kim Pawlak is Director of Publishing & Operations for the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). She has been writing about the textbook and academic authoring and publishing industry for 20 years.