Fotogs Call Wiley & Sons Serial Schnooks

     MANHATTAN (CN) – John Wiley & Sons, best known for its “For Dummies …” series, systematically defrauds photographers despite repeatedly being nailed for it in lawsuits, six professional photographers claim in court.
     Lead plaintiff Ellen Senisi claims that Wiley, which reported $1.8 billion in revenue in an SEC filing last year, “has a deplorable history of infringing the copyrights of third-party photographers.”
     The complaint continues: “Wiley’s copyright abuses include, among other things: (i) using third party photographic works in its publications without permission; (ii) exceeding the limitations of licenses pertaining to third-party photographs, including by exceeding the print run limits of its license and making impermissioned use of photos, such as publishing photos in ancillary publications or foreign editions without permission; and (iii) maintaining high-resolution copies of third-party photos and then republishing those works in subsequent editions or even different titles without first obtaining proper licenses prior to publication.
     “Numerous photographers and stock photography agencies have brought actions under the Copyright Act against defendant Wiley alleging these types of copyright infringements.
     “Wiley has been sued all over the country by dozens of photographers for infringing third parties’ copyrights in at least hundreds of photographs in dozens of different publications.”
     The complaint then cites 10 federal lawsuits against Wiley, in five states.
     The Courthouse News database lists 20 copyright lawsuits against Wiley & Sons since 2010.
     The photographers claim in the new complaint: “Evidence submitted to the courts in these cases demonstrates that Wiley has engaged in a systematic pattern of fraud and copyright infringement.
     “publicly available records also show that Wiley also has settled copyright infringement claims in several of these actions.”
     The transcript from one trial, Psihoyos v. John Wiley & Sons, showed that Wiley failed to adopt license compliance policies to ensure compliance for more than two decades, the complaint states. The plaintiff in that trial, Louis Psihoyos, is also a plaintiff in this case.
     “Evidence from these lawsuits demonstrates that, even after gaining actual knowledge of license violations and unlicensed uses of photos in particular publications, Wiley executive made the knowing and intentional decision to continue to sell inventory of publications that Wiley determined included unauthorized copies of third-party content,” the complaint states.
     Given this history, the plaintiffs, all of whom have licensed their work to Wiley for limited and specific uses, but did not transfer their copyrights or any ownership interests to the publisher, are “are concerned and reasonably suspect that Wiley violated the terms of licenses governing their photos, including licenses issued directly by Plaintiffs and indirectly by their agents,” the complaint states.
     The photographers claim that when they asked for information that would show whether Wiley abided by its agreements with them, Wiley clammed up.
     “Wiley remains in sole possession of the information necessary to determine whether it has made unauthorized uses of Plaintiffs’ photographs and infringed their copyrights,” the plaintiffs say.
     “Plaintiffs need access to the information regarding Wiley’s uses of their photos in order to determine whether Wiley has complied with the terms of its limited licenses or whether it has made unauthorized uses of their photographs.”
     Despite explicit demands from plaintiffs’ attorneys that Wiley disclose of all its uses of their work, “Wiley has not provided the information requested and has not disclosed the full scope of its use of plaintiffs’ creative works,” the photographers say.
     They claim that Wiley told them that the photographers themselves should have “discovered and monitored against potential infringements through audits of Wiley’s use of their photos.”
     The plaintiffs say they are concerned because Wiley has given them notice that the statute of limitations is running on their copyright claims.
     “Plaintiffs thus reasonably believe that Wiley has refused to provide complete information regarding its use of their photos in order to conceal copyright infringements and avoid liability,” the complaint states.
     It adds: “Wiley’s refusing to disclose to plaintiffs the uses that it has made and is making of their creative works precludes plaintiffs from preventing unauthorized uses of those creative works, ensuring the integrity of the creative works, and ensuring proper credit and attribution is made by defendant to plaintiffs.”
     The photographers seek a declaration that they have a right to know the full and complete scope of Wiley’s use of their creative works, and damages and punitive damages.
     They are represented by David A. Nelson with Nelson & McCulloch.
     Here are the plaintiffs: The Estate of Michael Newman, Ellen Senisi, Laura Dwight, Louis Psihoyos, Norbert Wu, Mark Gibson, and Hazel Hankin.

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