Book Copyright Violation By Publisher

A publisher, in Chennai. Tamil Nadu, has published my books without my permission or knowledge and has not paid me anything. I would like to force him to pay me a reasonable compensation. I had made corrections, editing and proof-reading in the above files on the computer in his office on quite a few occasions. I am taking care of my aged mother and sick younger brother in Bangalore and the publisher is located in Chennai, so I will not be able to visit Chennai more than twice or thrice in this case. I would prefer to have a single hearing and judgement delivered in the first hearing itself. The publisher has published my books on amazon.in without my permission and knowledge in 2014 and has not paid me a single penny till now. I discovered it recently in 2019 and found that the books in question carry my name and my father's photo inside in the dedication. I want to force the publisher to pay me a reasonable compensation. I have not signed any contract or any other agreement with the publisher till now. I HAVE NOT REGISTERED OR COPYRIGHTED THE BOOK TILL NOW. I had translated three books from Sanskrit into English and Tamil and had given the digital files to a publisher in Chennai in March 2019. I was introduced to the publisher by my paternal aunt, who had done some translation of a book from Tamil into English for the publisher and has also not been paid by him till now. The publisher cheated her by giving her only 132 unsold copies of the book, while he pocketed the entire sales proceeds, as my aunt was taking care of her husband, who was in the last stages of his life, suffering from kidney failure and was in no mood to bargain for payment with the publisher, whom she expected to be fair and honest.. In my case, the same publisher has printed 1000 copies of each of the books in April 2014 and sold on Amazon. (one book priced at Rs 50 and the other two by the same author combined as one at Rs 40. (The publisher must have earned an income of at least Rs 72,000 from the sales of my books, minus his printing expenses). Amazon.in executives are not willing to give me the number of copies sold for each of the books on their website) in after lying repeatedly over 20 phone calls made between April to December 2014 that he had no plans to publish the books, as the demand for the books was very low in his view. Now, after I had found out this in April 2019 through google search, he has rejected my demand for Rs 15000 as compensation. He has put my name on the cover and my late father's photograph in the dedication page of each of the books. My name appears on the inside page of the books followed by the publishing company's logo. I have the copies of the books and the March 2014 proof copies of the books with my name and logo of the publisher on the proof copies. Despite frequent emails to customer support at amazon.in, informing them about all the facts with the attached snapshots of the proof copies of the cover pages of my books containing my name followed by the publisher's logo on the front inside page, and so-called assurances that my problems would be resolved, the executives at amazon.in have not done anything tangible till now. I have also cursed them to suffer all the cancers, which the world has ever known and will ever know in the future, because I have not received any payment till now, while they collect their ill-gotten commissions from the publisher for the copies sold on their website. I have repeatedly urged the amazon.in authorities through email to cease selling the books on their website, blacklist and ban the publisher from their website forever and send me the notification of the black-list and ban notice so that I can upload them on all other online websites, to prevent the publisher from selling their books online on any other website. I have not received any tangible replies to these emails, though I initially received so-called emails assuring me of help in resolving the problems. These are the only documentation I have. I have not taken any action so far. Now, I need your help in the matter with the assurance that you will be able to win the case and ensure a justifiable compensation for me, which would also include a sufficient amount to pay you for your services in fighting the case. I do not know how to send a notice, the formalities, like filing a petition/case in the court, hearings etc. I have an aged mother and a sick younger brother to take care of in Bangalore and will not be able to visit Chennai more than three times in connection with the case. So, I would like to have the case finished in two or three hearings only without allowing any scope for the publisher to delay the hearings or the judgement. I am unemployed for the past six years, having resigned my last job in 2012, to take care of my late father, who was sick for nearly three years before he passed away on January 2013. Hence, I do not have any excess money to pay huge lawyer fees and wait for compensation from the publisher. I need your advice as to the eligibility for filing a case, in view of the fact that the issue is five years old (I do not know whether the case is time-barred or not) and the chances of my succeeding in the case, before I decide on the steps to be taken in line with your advice. If you are sending the legal notice to the party, I want you to fight my case till the end and not assign it to any junior who might mess it up or be afraid of the reputation of or intimidation by the publisher.

Answer (1)

Aayushi Sang

  • Sector-1, Noida

An author typically enters into a publishing contract in order to assign to the publisher the author's exclusive right to make copies of his or her original work of authorship. When an author is considering this kind of contract, he or she should try to retain as many rights inherent in copyright as possible. Another right author should be concerned with is the editing right. Numerous authors have signed publishing contracts with publishing houses, only to see their works transformed by the publishing house into something they would not have written. The right to control the cover art for a book is a right the author will rarely be able to retain. If you believe that the publisher has violated such agreement, you can file a copyright infringement suit against them with the help of an IPR lawyer in India.

Answered on 23 Aug 2019


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