STM publishers Elsevier, Netherlands, and Thieme Publishers, part of Thieme Publishing Group, Germany, have announced that they have secured a significant victory against an international piracy scheme involving illegal copying, sale, and distribution of their scientific journals. In September 2007, the publishers became aware that an unknown person had sent unsolicited e-mail advertisements to academic professors informing them that journals were available for sale on the Internet. Recipients were also Elsevier and Thieme authors, who have been instrumental in gathering the evidence.
To stop this illicit scheme, the publishers engaged the law firm of DeVore & DeMarco LLP. Working in conjunction with US and international investigators, the firm filed an action in federal court on behalf of the publishers and identified the copyright infringer as an entrepreneur living in Vietnam. The investigators discovered that the infringer had orchestrated an elaborate scheme and was selling copyrighted journals around the world, including to individuals in Botswana, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, the United States, and Vietnam.
A complaint was filed with the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communication which promptly formed a task force to handle the matter. The task force engaged the assistance of local law-enforcement and regulatory officials and ultimately concluded to prosecute the action. As a result, within weeks of filing the complaint with the Ministry, Vietnamese authorities identified the infringer. The infringer confessed to the illicit scheme and agreed to stop all piracy activities and to pay a substantial fine, including repayment of illegal profits garnered from the sales as well as penalties for copyright infringement under Vietnamese law. This represents a substantial victory for academic publishers in the on-going fight against global digital copyright infringement.
In a similar move, earlier this month, publishers John Wiley & Sons, Inc., McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson Education, Inc. and Cengage Learning, Inc. were awarded a favorable ruling in a copyright infringement case against two online booksellers. The summary judgment in favour of the publishers included an award of over $125,000 in statutory damages and permanently enjoins the defendants from further infringing the publishers' copyrights.