Book publisher John Wiley & Sons files mass BitTorrent lawsuit

BitTorrent users are being targeted by yet another huge lawsuit, except this time it’s not because of movies, games, or music. This time, it’s all about books. John Wiley and Sons have filed suit against 27 BitTorrent users in New York federal court. The publisher claims those users shared their “For Dummies” books illegally, without permission.

This marks the first time a book publisher has jumped into a mass BitTorrent lawsuit, something movie and music studios have been doing for quite some time. Torrent Freak obtained the complaint (pdf) filed by the book company. The complaint alleges that the activity happened on October 18th and 19th of this year.

The publisher claims that the huge amount of piracy that happens on BitTorrent is causing them financial hardship and that it may force them to lay off some writers. The complaint states,

“Defendants are contributing to a problem that threatens the profitability of Wiley. Although Wiley cannot determine at this time the precise amount of revenue that it has lost as a result of peer-to-peer file sharing of its copyrighted works though BitTorrent software, the amount of revenue that is lost is enormous.”

The complaint calls out a few specific books including “AutoCAD 2011 for Dummies,” “Day Trading for Dummies”, “Calculus Essential for Dummies”,  “Word Press For Dummies”, and “Photoshop CS 5 All-In-One For Dummies.”

The complaint also lists a concern that the pirated books may cause an impact on the image of John Wiley and Sons. Specifically it states,

“Wiley is also concerned that these unauthorized electronic editions of its works may be of inferior quality to the original versions.”

The document specifically lists the IP addresses of the 27 defendants, all of whom live in the state of New York. That tidbit is quite relevant considering recent mass lawsuits have been thrown out of other courts due to the fact that all the defendants did not reside in the state in which the claim was filed.

What is also important is that John Wiley and Sons is setting a precedent. There is currently no information about whether or not they have, or will, offer settlements to the defendants but whether they do or not, other book publishers are watching. If this lawsuit is successful other large book publishers will likely follow with similar complaints.