The publisher of the ever-popular For Dummies series of titles has once again taken steps to combat illegal file sharing of its works, again successfully filing a lawsuit—for now, at least—against defendants named only as John Doe.
Why the secret identity? Because the plaintiffs have nothing more than the IP addresses of the offenders at this time. Once the lawsuit goes forward the internet service providers can be subpoenaed to provide the actual names of the defendants, but for now their identities are unknown.
John Wiley& Sons has taken legal action against file sharing sites and individuals once before. Two weeks ago, the publisher brought about a lawsuit against twenty-seven individuals who were swapping digital editions of the For Dummies books online. Now that number has been increased to nearly fifty defendants.
While some may see the tactic as taking things a little too far on the part of the publisher, especially when considering that current copyright law allows for huge fines based on per incident offenses, it is vitally important for illegal ebook sharing sites to know that there are publishers and authors who will take them to court over piracy and illegal distribution. And this is no small matter, considering that Jeff Roberts of paidContent.org reports that one John Wiley title, DOS for Dummies, was illegally downloaded as many as 74,000 times since 2010.
The success of this lawsuit will depend on a judge’s decision as to whether or not the defendants can be named all in the same lawsuit, or whether there will have to be separate trials. While there is precedent for filing the suit against all of the defendants together, other similar cases have resulted in a judge ordering that there be separate trials for each defendant, making the plaintiff much less likely to sue each offender.