The copyright and trademark infringement case filed last year by Pearson, Cengage, and McGraw-Hill came to an abrupt end last month in a default judgement.
The Sante Fe New Mexican reports that Eric Hunting, the owner of Information Recyclers, lacked the resources to defend himself in the lawsuit, so he instead ignored it until it exploded in his face.
His job, which he performs on his computer in the living room of the small adobe house he rents in the village of Cerrillos, has wrought a much larger crisis: The publishing giants Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill and Pearson Education filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, charging him with copyright and trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting.
The suit, filed by the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Oppenheim + Zebrak, also claims Hunting and his employee, David Toone of Albuquerque, buy books — often fakes — at the lowest price possible and resell them for a substantial profit, cutting into the income of the textbook authors and publishers in the process.
Hunting denies all of that. But without the financial wherewithal to combat the lawsuit, he did almost nothing in response, resulting in the federal court issuing a default judgment in favor of the publishers for $1.4 million — plus interest — earlier this year.
The lawsuit stemmed from Hunting's online business of textbook arbitrage. He would find cheap textbooks online, acquire them, and then sell them along to students or other sellers.
This is a legal activity, but according to the publishers Hunting was also handling pirated textbooks and kept doing so after he was warned and asked to stop (according to the filing).
Given the complete lack of evidence available online, it's impossible to say whether Hunting was breaking the law. Yes, some of the textbooks that are handled by arbitrageurs like Hunting are pirated, but did he sell any?
Your guess is as good as mine.
image by spykster