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Monday, October 29, 2012

Wiley Punishing Resellers: Beyond Profits

Publishers sell English-language textbooks at lower rates in developing countries. Such “cut-rate foreign goods” are a staple on e-Bay. In late October 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on a case that pits the practice against the claims of publishers of copyright infringement. The case began when Wiley accused a USC doctoral student of copyright infringement and won a $600,000 judgment. The student not being able to afford the judgment, Wiley successfully urged the judge to take the student’s golf clubs and his computer after his graduation—as if sending the student to his room without dinner even though the vase is still broken. Clearly, the clubs and computer could not come even close to covering the judgment. Given the lack of publicity on the particulars, I doubt that the terms were even designed to be a deterrent. If I am correct, the motive comes from more of a “stick it to him” mentality. Whereas a legal analysis of the case is doubtless most typical, I want to try to uncover the sordid nature of this mentality behind the “clubs and computer” slap-down.

The full essay has been incorporated into (or swallowed up by) On the Arrogance of False Entitlement: A Nietzschean Critique of Business Ethics and Management, available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.