Book Plagiarism in the UK. Has It Happened to You?

February 1998
by Al Siebert, Ph.D

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Imagine yourself in this situation: You discover that a highly plagiarized version of a book you researched, wrote, and published has been published under another author’s name in the United Kingdom. The author copied many passages from your book verbatim, used your same book structure, and even used your same title. Nowhere in her book are you identified as the source.

You assume at first that an unscrupulous writer slipped a plagiarized book past a lax editorial staff that did not check Bowker’s Books in Print and did not ask the author for copies of her permissions to quote. But then you notice that the publisher’s name seems familiar. You examine your office records and find that an acquisitions editor with this publisher ordered a review copy of your book several years earlier. The publisher initiated the plagiarism, not the writer! After you calm down from feeling outraged, you realize the plagiarism is very extensive and the party with “deep pockets” is the main perpetrator. You and your associates assume you will collect a big settlement.

Punitive Damages & the British Courts

Given this scenario, what is your estimate of the amount of punitive damages (in dollars) you imagine you might collect in your lawsuit in Britain?a. zerob. $25,000 or morec. over $100,000d. over one million dollars Brace yourself. The correct answer is zero. I was shocked to learn that British courts give awards only for actual damages. They do not award punitive…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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