Turning the Tables to Defend
Private Property Rights
In a textbook case of copyright infringement, the National Wildlife Federation printed 547,000 copies of Mr. Giles book in its own publication without permission or compensation, and altered the books 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.
Reprinted from Property Rights Foundation of America Site, http://www.prfamerica.org
National Wildlife Federation Piracy
Exposes Need For Reforms
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.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2010 by JGC/United Publishing, 815.968.6601. All rights reserved. Revised: June 09, 2010