Think before suing

On September 18, Elaine Scott filed what her lawyers hope will become a class-action copyright infringement suit against Scribd. Ms. Scott, author of the 1985 title, Stocks and Bonds: Profits and Losses, was reportedly shocked to learn that her book had been posted to Scribd and downloaded 100 times or more.

Now, I am a fan of copyright, but before Elaine Scott decided sue the service that hosted her pirated content, I wish she had asked herself three questions:

  • Is my book still in print?
  • If it is in print, what effect have these downloads had on its sale?
  • And if it’s not in print, what can I learn from the fact that literally hundreds of people want a copy of something I wrote 25 years ago?
  • Scott complained to Scribd and they took down her book, but she could have worked with them to do one better: set a retail price and sell the book to people who want it. She could also look at options to offer physical copies using a print-on-demand service.

    As the record shows, she chose to sue. That’s a right, but the data available suggest that she could have leveraged the situation to her advantage at little or no cost. Just wait until she finds out what’s going on with her used books.

    About Brian O'Leary

    Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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