Tag Archives: lawsuit

Lawyer Fined for Leaking that Pseudonymous Author was J.K. Rowling

rowlingIf the man who leaked information about J.K. Rowling being the true author of this year’s crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling thought he was in the clear, he thought wrong.

According to The Chicago Tribune, lawyer Chris Gossage has been fined 1000 pounds ($1650) and has received a warning for revealing that bestselling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was the true author of The Cuckoo’s Calling. The novel was released under the pseudonym Robert Gailbraith.

Gossage is a partner in the firm Russells Solicitors, which represented Rowling. He apparently leaked the information to his wife’s best friend. She then tweeted it out, causing international book shock and making The Cuckoo’s Calling a fast bestseller.

After it happened, Rowling was publicly upset, telling the press that she had enjoyed releasing the book under a pseudonym and not having hype surround her. The book had received positive reviews, but initially hadn’t sold well.

In addition to the fine and warning, Gossage’s firm paid Rowling’s legal costs after she sued them. They also made a donation to the charity of Rowling’s choice, the Soldiers’ Charity.

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Judge Rules in Favor of Google in Book-Scanning Lawsuit

It took eight long years, but a judge has finally ruled on a lawsuit filed by the Authors Guild against Google, concerning the web site’s library book scanning project. The judge dismissed the Authors Guild’s lawsuit.

So what is the library book scanning project? According to the Google Books web site, “[Google is] working with several major libraries to include their collections in Google Books and, like a card catalog, show users information about the book, and in many cases, a few snippets – a few sentences to display the search term in context.”

According to Publishers Weekly, the Authors Guild argued that copyrights were ignored only to ultimately impact the book market in a negative way. But Judge Denny Chin ruled that Google’s book scanning project is a benefit for books, readers, and authors, as Andrew Albanese explains:

“In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits,” Chin wrote. “It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders.”

The Authors Guild plans to appeal the decision, but it could run into a problem. The Second Circuit is already handling a similar case, in which the judge also initially ruled against the guild.

What do you think of Google Books and its library book scanning project? Good for books/authors or bad?


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‘Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee Settles Copyright Lawsuit

The story of To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee’s copyright lawsuit has come to an end. As I earlier reported, Harper Lee filed a lawsuit against her former agent’s son-in-law, for not properly protecting the copyright of To Kill a Mockingbird.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the author and the defendants in the case have reached an agreement. The details of the settlement are still unclear, but a court filing regarding the case was dismissed last week.

There you have it — drama-free Harper Lee. I wonder if recent talk about the lawsuit helped boost sales?

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‘Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee Takes Copyright to Court

Well folks, it looks like Atticus Finch is returning to the courtroom. Sort of.

According to Deadline, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee is suing for the copyright of her 1960 classic To Kill A Mockingbird. She alleges that after her former agent got sick 10 years ago, his son-in-law assigned the copyright to himself and a firm he manages. The 87-year-old author claims he took advantage of her poor eyesight and hearing.

Now she’s suing to get her copyright back as well as money for damages.

With a book like Mockingbird, it makes sense that she’d want to hold on to that copyright. After all, between the Oscar-winning movie and the book, which is still read in most high school classrooms, I imagine a copyright like that would bring in a lot of money.

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Unused Borders Gift Cards Deemed Worthless

For those of you who still had old, unused Borders gift cards lying around, you’re not in luck. According to the LA Times, a judge ruled last month that old Borders gift cards could not be redeemed.

Borders filed for bankruptcy in February 2011 and shut its doors later that year. Soon after, a few customers filed a lawsuit, claiming customers did not get enough notice about the closure to use their gift cards in time. Though a claim deadline had been printed in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, they claimed the average person wouldn’t have necessarily read those articles.

Although there’s an estimated $210.5 million worth of unused Borders gift cards out there, a Manhattan federal judge determined that issuing all of that money to former customers wouldn’t be fair to creditors of the Borders Group, especially since the bankruptcy and liquidation is already complete. The judge upheld last year’s ruling of a U.S. bankruptcy judge.

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Bestselling ‘No Easy Day’ by Navy SEAL Faces Pentagon Lawsuit

It was an event that garnered so much attention, it’s now being used as a politic punching point in the 2012 Presidential election — the day six Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. When something as monumental as this moment happens, people are bound to write books about it. But when one of the SEALs writes it himself, it’s not easy for the Pentagon to overlook.

According to The New York Times, the Pentagon is considering taking legal action against Matt Bissonnette, the SEAL who penned the now bestselling book No Easy Day under the pseudonym Mark Owen. The Pentagon says Bissonnette breached confidentiality agreements by releasing information about the top-secret attack on and killing of Osama bin Laden without the Pentagon’s permission.

Bissonnette’s lawyer claims the author sought legal advice before publishing the book and that there was no information released in the book that would have breached nondisclosure agreements. His lawyer even goes so far as to say such agreements do not apply to this book, as Elisabeth Bumiller Julie Bosman explain.

The letter also said that the book was not subject to the nondisclosure agreement that the Defense Department said was violated. That agreement applied only to “specially identified Special Access Programs” that did not include the subject matter of the book, Mr. Luskin wrote.

While I’m dying to read the book, I can’t imagine there will be absolutely no legal consequences to having published it. Frankly, I was shocked that one of the SEALs himself made a point of publicly disclosing any information about the mission. I fear it could put the Pentagon and other SEALs in danger, but then again, I don’t know until I read it. What do you guys think?

Get No Easy Day in hardcover for $16.17.

Or get it on your Kindle for $12.99.

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$69 Million E-Book Pricing Settlement Reached

A few months ago, I told you about a possible lawsuit involving a number of publishers who allegedly raised e-book prices illegally. I then reported that three of those publishers had reached a settlement. Well now, we know the details of that settlement.

According to the L.A. Times, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to pay a total of $69 million. The lawsuit was brought about when publishers started setting the prices of e-books, instead of retailers; thus, giving themselves a good portion of the sales. Despite the settlement, they don’t admit they’ve done anything wrong, stating “their actions were merely parallel, unilateral, or justified by market forces and completely legal.”

So how does this affect you? It means that if you bought an e-book anytime between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you’ll get some money back. However, it probably won’t amount to very much, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

Publishers will payconsumers $1.32 for each bestselling title they purchased, 32 cents for books that were less than a year old but not bestsellers, and 25 cents for older e-books. Even devoted readers won’t wind up with much more than the cost of a new e-book or two. Conveniently, refunds will appear in e-book buyers’ online accounts on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers who purchased e-books through Google or Sony’s storefronts will receive a check, and others can opt to. They can also opt not to receive any rebate at all.

I’m thinking I’ll probably get some money back, but based on what Kellogg says, I likely won’t even realize that anything’s been deposited back into my account. What do you guys think? Do you think these publishers have coughed up enough dough? Or not as much as they should have?


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Authors File Class Action Suit Against PublishAmerica

A group of authors have filed a class action lawsuit against a publishing company they claim misled them. According to The L.A. Times, three authors are suing PublishAmerica, a company which maintains it is a traditional publishing house (it doesn’t charge author fees) with untraditional aspects (it is print on-demand, similar to self-publishing). There are number of issues the authors are claiming, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

The Frederick [Maryland] News Post reports:

The plaintiffs claim the company misrepresents its services in  its contracts with authors, which gives PublishAmerica the rights to  their work for between seven and 10 years. Fees that authors paid ranged  from less than $30 to several hundred dollars.

They allege that  the publisher, among other things, charges for services that traditional  publishers perform at no cost to promote and sell books, misrepresents  the company’s ability to get writers’ work on bookstore shelves or into  the hands of larger publishers or celebrities, and publishes books with  little or no editing and then charges the authors to have corrections  made.

A total of 267 complaints have been filed against PublishAmerica with the local Better Business Bureau in Maryland over the last three years. The BBB gave it an F rating.

But PublishAmerica claims it has happily served 47,000 authors in the last 12 years, almost 15,000 of whom have decided to publish their next books through the company. PublishAmerica intends to keep litigation within the courtroom, rather than sharing it with the media. So anyone planning to report what’s happening must cover the case as it heads to court.

What do you guys think about the suit?

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Three Cups of Tea Controversy Continues

Things continue to fall apart for the Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson. When Mortenson published Three Cups of Tea in 2006, the nonfiction book became a massive bestseller, raising millions of dollars for the charity Mortenson founded, Central Asia Institute, or CAI. Now he must pay $1 million to the charity.

His nonfiction book about his decision to build schools in Central Asia served as a way to raise money for the schools. The book came under fire last year after a 60 Minutes report stated that parts of Mortenson’s books were fictional.

Now, according to Huffington Post, Mortenson is facing more legal troubles. The Minnesota Attorney General is reporting that Mortenson used funds for the charity for his personal use i.e. iTunes, vacations, and luggage. The AG also alleges Mortenson did not uphold his end of the agreements with the charity — namely that he would split book promotion costs and contribute the amount he received in royalties from the books bought by CAI.

As a result, he must pay back CAI, but the payments could take years to make because he has “insufficient financial resources” to pay it back at once. In his defense, one of CAI’s donors says Mortenson simply had “fuzzy math” skills. Either way, $1 million is about to come out of his pocket for his own errors, deliberate or not.

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E-Book Pricing Lawsuit Now Officially Underway

Last week, I reported that Apple and a number of other book publishers faced a lawsuit over collusion for e-book pricing. Yesterday, that lawsuit was made official by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to this article by The New York Times, the DOJ is suing Apple, alleging that the company lowered its e-book prices in the iBookstore in 2010 as a means to fight Amazon’s low pricing. Julie Bosman explains.

At the time, Apple with its blockbuster iPad was trying to challenge Amazon’s hold on the e-book market. Amazon, the online retail giant, had become a kind of Walmart for the e-book business by lowering the price of most new and best-selling e-books to $9.99 — a price meant to stimulate sales of its own e-reading device, the Kindle.

Publishers, looking for leverage against Amazon, saw Apple as their white knight.

Three of the publishers — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins — that faced suits have already agreed to settlements. But the fight is far from over. Either way, the Justice Department is looking to ensure that e-book prices are lowered for everyone because “E-books are transforming our daily lives, and improving how information and content is shared.  For the growing number of Americans who want to take advantage of this new technology, the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that e-books are as affordable as possible.”

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