Publisher SWP has ordered 120 people who have illegally downloaded one of its books to pay the full retail price instead. The party offering access to the book as well as two websites have been offered a settlement of 10,000 EUR.
When the sales of the successful primary school book “Van kerndoel tot leerlijn” suddenly came to a halt, the marketing executive of the publisher searched on the internet for an explanation for the drop in sales. SWP publisher Paul Roosenstein explains how they arrived at a LinkedIn-group, became a member and discovered that a Principal of a primary school in Amsterdam provided the members of that group with access to his “DropBox”. The Principal encouraged them to go and download the book from that storage service.
More than 120 group members of other primary schools have made use of the opportunity and two websites copied the PDF to their webpages.
Roosenstein calculated that the direct damages for the publisher would amount to 35,000 EUR worth of lost sales during the period May to October. “But the subsequent damage is much higher as future revenue will no longer be generated. The author of the book, Mareille van der Stap – a fellow teacher – has been seriously affected in relation to her income.”
SWP has gone and hired a law firm and is now litigating against the three major parties: the Principal and the two public websites. A subpoena has been sent to all of the 120 LinkedIn members who applied for and received access to the DropBox account. The subpoena contains a proposal to settle at a cost of 24,90 EUR, the retail price of the book.
The deadline for individual downloaders ended this afternoon at 4 pm. If they did not pay, it would result in a 5,000 EUR fine. “We have received an unexpected amount of reactions,” Roosenstein states. About 80 percent has responded. Half of them have paid the price of the book immediately, sometimes accompanied by apologies. “The remainder has sent lenghthy e-mails, sometimes accompanied by pictures showing them with the physical copies of the books which they already had in their possession. Others are angry and are now demanding to receive the print version. And some are threatening never to buy from us again.”
Whether the Principal and the sites have already responded Roosenstein doesn’t know. They have received the letter by mail and it had been sent by our lawyer.
Roosenstein advises every publisher who is experiencing a sudden drop in sales, to find out whether the drop is the result of piracy. “Regardless of the fact that we want to recover the damages, I also wanted to make a statement. How can this be? Shouldn’t people who are working in the educational sector set a good example?
Translated from the Dutch news article: