Three major education publishers this week filed a copyright and trademark infringement suit against a U.S.-based textbook reseller for allegedly importing and selling "pirated" foreign editions of popular textbooks.
The suit, filed in Massachusetts federal court by Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson Education, accuses a trio of textbook "arbitragers" individually and collectively (under the name Information Recyclers) of selling pirated, "counterfeit" copies of the publishers' "Authentic Works," bearing the publishers' trademarks, at least as far back as June, 2014, the publishers charge. In filings, the publishers claim the defendants "deliberately evaded legitimate sources" of the books, choosing instead to obtain illegal copies at "materially" lower prices to maximize their profits in violation of the publishers' "intellectual property rights."
The case recalls the 2013 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, which stemmed from a closely watched case filed by John Wiley and Sons against another textbook arbitrager, Supap Kirtsaeng. In that case, Kirtsaeng, a Thai-born U.S. student was importing and reselling cheaper, English-language foreign editions of Wiley textbooks made exclusively for sale abroad, which Wiley argued was in violation of two provisions of the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled for Kirtsaeng, however, finding that since he was importing "legally made" copies, he had a right to resell them.
In this case, however, the publishers are alleging that the copies at issue are not "legally made "editions, but in fact are are cheaply made illegal knockoff copies. And the publishers allege that the defendants all knew or should have known they were trafficking in pirated editions, and were in fact warned by the publishers to stop, but continued their operation.
The publishers are asking for damages, restitution, and injunctive relief as well as "other and further relief the Court deems proper."