The JGC/United Publishing Philosophy: Just because we found the world a certain way doesn't mean we have to leave it that way. Our goal is to help readers see beyond what is to what can be by opening minds and hearts with the power of imaginative literature. — John Gile, Editor & Publisher

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Turning the Tables to Defend Private Property Rights
Carol LaGrasse, President, Property Rights Foundation of America

Every so often, an individual arises from the treads of the bulldozer that ran over his private property rights to become a flag bearer for the cause. John Gile of Rockford, Illinois, was the victim of the National Wildlife Federation’s piracy of his copyrighted children’s book The First Forest. At the PRFA conference, he delivered an inspiring speech about his copyright defense against the National Wildlife Federation.

In a textbook case of copyright infringement, the National Wildlife Federation printed 547,000 copies of Mr. Gile’s book in its own publication without permission or compensation, and altered the book’s ending, which centered on forgiveness and renewal, to make it a story of crime and punishment. Because copyright protection is so important as a fundamental right, Mr. Gile declared at the conference, “I decided to go bankrupt over this if necessary.” After a hard battle, he forced the National Wildlife Federation to admit to unlawful actions in federal civil court and to pay $350,000 for damages to his registered copyrights.

Mr. Gile refused to accept a gag order and next launched a national campaign for justice for copyright holders. “This is a crime, to be prosecuted,” he said, but “for three decades the Justice Department has not enforced the copyright law for small publishers... Copyright holders experience damages to our personal property,” he said, “and the loss of unpaid royalties.” He is asking the Congress and the U.S. Attorney General to protect the copyrights held by small publishers.

Reprinted from Property Rights Foundation of America Site,

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National Wildlife Federation Piracy Exposes Need For Reforms
Property Rights Foundation Of America (PRFA) Abhors Violations Of All Property Rights, Including Intellectual Property Rights
Click here to go to Property Rights Foundation of America

"I did not, would not, and could not write or publish a book with the message conveyed in the mutilated version of The First Forest which the National Wildlife Federation, a corporation using federal tax dollars and federal tax code privileges, unlawfully published under my name and without my permission." — Author John Gile

The First Forest has made and topped several bestseller lists, has won awards, has become a Scholastic Canada Book Club selection, and has been published in Chinese and Spanish language editions. In 2000, it was named to the national Reading Coordinators' "Read, America! Collection" as a "Read, America! Classic," a book at a level of storytelling with appeal "for generations of readers." The First Forest is used extensively by teachers and counselors in schools to address environmental issues, civic responsibility, neighborliness, peace issues, and more. Publishers Weekly described The First Forest as a book that "relays concern for each other and for the environment." Because of its classic qualities and popularity across America and abroad, The First Forest provided the foundation upon which a small, independent, family-owned publishing company — JGC/United Publishing — was established.

Unfortunately, the National Wildlife Federation liked The First Forest so much they stole it, undermining and virtually destroying the family's work and financial resources risked in establishing JGC. The National Wildlife Federation unlawfully reproduced 96 percent of The First Forest in a publication they sold and distributed to 547,000 homes, professional offices, schools, and libraries. They reversed the meaning of the story. They ravaged the art. They even put the author's name on their pirated version, as though he approved their unlawful and unethical action. And when caught in their $8.1 million retail value rip off, they proceeded to make matters worse.

Author John Gile offered ways for National Wildlife Federation officers and board members to redeem themselves at no cost, but they rejected his appeal to conscience and chose a litigious response instead. They did not apologize. They did not try to help reduce the damage. On the contrary, they made matters worse by nearly driving the author into bankruptcy with legal costs for defending his registered copyrights in federal court.

Because the Justice Department is failing to enforce criminal copyright law on behalf of individual creators and independent publishers, Gile and his family were forced to endure three years of costly litigation under civil law. They ultimately were forced out of court when they were unable to come up with an additional $200,000 to $300,000 in legal fees needed to take their case to trial, but not before compelling the National Wildlife Federation to admit its illegal action and pay $350,000 as partial restoration of the estimated $740,000 in registered copyrights their piracy destroyed. No compensation for unpaid royalties was rendered during litigation, and National Wildlife Federation officers and board members still have failed to pay royalties for using the author's work 547,000 times.

But something good may come from all this. The National Wildlife Federation's piracy of The First Forest has revealed the need to close gaping holes in Constitutionally mandated civil and criminal laws designed to protect the rights and livelihoods of our nation's creative workers. The FBI calls the National Wildlife Federation piracy of The First Forest "an open and shut case requiring virtually no investigation." Justice Department prosecutors' failure to act on behalf of an individual victim exposes a double standard of law enforcement and evinces that corporations which are big enough and rich enough and powerful enough and politically-connected enough can get away with anything.

Today JGC is rebuilding and Gile is fighting to establish deterrents so other creators will not have to endure what he and his family endured at the hands of National Wildlife Federation for three years. The National Writers Union is calling upon the Justice Department to establish a task force to see that criminal copyright law is enforced for individual writers and small publishing companies victimized by big corporations like the National Wildlife Federation. Their piracy also has revealed the need for closer monitoring of corporations like the National Wildlife Federation which use federal tax privileges and direct grants of federal tax dollars. As one concerned citizen said of the National Wildlife Federation piracy, "What we have here is an outrageous case of government subsidized copyright infringement undermining civil and criminal copyright laws, abridging the Bill of Rights (Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press), and violating Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America."

Publishers Weekly is correct when it says The First Forest "relays concern for each other and for the environment." It also conveys the message that actions have consequences. Maybe National Wildlife Federation officers, board members, and their lawyers should reread The First Forest — not their pirated version, but the author's original work — until they grasp the "concern for each other" part cited by Publishers Weekly, a concern which precludes disregarding and violating basic Constitutional and civil rights of American artists and other creative workers. Justice Department prosecutors would do well to do the same.

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Copyright 2010 by JGC/United Publishing, 815.968.6601. All rights reserved. Revised: June 09, 2010