In a case of “we don’t want to but we will”, Penguin Random House said it would take legal action against those sharing PDF versions of André de Ruyter’s book, “Truth To Power”.
The publishing house urged the public to report people sharing the book via social media.
The publisher said it does not want the regrettable actions of a few individuals to cloud the immense importance of “Truth to Power”, and emphasised to those distributing the pirated eBook that PRH regards the illegal acts in a serious light.
“The unlawful sharing of copyrighted work not only hurts PRH as a publisher, but also the many people who have spent countless hours bringing the work to life,” PRH CEO Steve Connolly said.
“This includes the author, proof-readers, fact checkers, designers and the many people who rely on the publishing industry for their livelihood. It also includes the public at large, because the price of books would have to increase if widespread copyright infringement undermines the commercial value of the book.”
PRH did not want to take legal action against individual members of the public, Connolly said, but the prevalence of this practice, not only in respect of De Ruyter’s book but also in respect of others, was becoming so widespread that it left PRH with no choice.
He said illegal copies of the former Eskom's CEO book were being shared via WhatsApp groups and other social media channels.
That was despite PRH’s earlier warning that it had the right to and would not hesitate to take legal action.
The publisher was exploring its legal rights with its attorneys.
Connolly said that included the right to interdict unlawful distributors from continuing their distribution of the work and sue them for damages.
Quoting the Copyright Act, Connolly said the copyright infringement might constitute an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment upon conviction.
“Sharing a copyrighted work without the copyright holder’s permission is unlawful. This is not a complicated legal matter and there is no room for misunderstanding on the part of the public,” he said.
“The people who are sharing these books are generally well aware that they are infringing these rights. The person sharing the work is not the only guilty party, but also those who thereafter read it or share it with others.”
PRH requests that anyone aware of the unlawful distribution of titles published by PRH report it to [email protected] by including the name, cellphone number, email address, screengrab as proof of the distribution, as well as links to the relevant posts.
PRH said it would treat all such reports as confidential.