Piracy is not a victimless crime: Protecting your work

There are some common myths about digital piracy. Stop me if you’ve heard any of these. Piracy is a victimless crime. Piracy doesn’t cannibalize legitimate sales. Fighting piracy is whack-a-mole. The pirates are always a step ahead. Sound familiar? The good news is they are myths. The bad news, however, is textbook piracy is real, and it’s a problem.  

During their 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Prevention, Detection, and Enforcement Against Digital Piracy of Copyrighted Scholarly and Pedagogical Works”, Henrik Strandberg and Maureen Garry with Pearson Education’s Intellectual Property Protection Program shared details on the nature and efficacy of detection, prevention and enforcement efforts authors have as protection against digital piracy, both individually, and as an industry.

4 Factors to determine fair use of a copyrighted work

In his webinar, “Fair Use or Infringement in 2018, and Other Current Copyright Issues”, Ken Norwick, author of The Legal Guide for Writers, Artists, and Other Creative People reminded participants that the purpose of copyright is “to give creators an incentive to create”.

The U.S. Constitution states that the purpose of copyright is “to promote the progress of science and useful arts”, said Norwick. However, in order to progress, he said, there must be a level of fair use of the creations that came before. Four factors exist in determining whether a use is qualified as fair use and thus not an infringement on copyright, said Norwick.

Does ‘first sale’ mean fewer sales?

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The statutory termination right: One copyright act provision your publisher hopes you never hear about

In the fall of 1977, Ralph Little had just received his Ph.D. in Elfin Studies and was beginning his first faculty job as an assistant professor at Middle Earth College. Elfin Studies was in its infancy – many universities did not even recognize it as a legitimate discipline — and there was no introductory textbook on the market. Each week Ralph prepared lecture outlines on ditto masters for the dozen intrepid undergraduates in his Elfin Studies 101. When a representative of Colossal Publishers, Inc., came by his office, Ralph, sporting the sideburns and bell-bottoms of the day, told him about his idea of writing an introduction to Elfin Studies.

Soon afterward, Colossal offered Ralph a contract to write his Introduction to Elves, for a royalty of 5 percent of Colossal’s receipts on every copy sold. The royalty sounded almost as diminutive as the subject matter. But Ralph was thrilled to become a textbook author, and the editor promised him that when the book came out, he would be invited to Colossal’s Midwestern sales meeting in Minneapolis. He signed the contract early in 1978, and the first edition was published on January 10, 1980.