Lawsuit Filed Against Chuck Jones Alleges Counterfeiting Textbooks

Sep 24, 2012

A lawsuit filed in US District court against Murray businessman Chuck Jones and several of his associates and businesses alleges Jones used companies he owned to infringe the copyrights of several textbook publishers.

McGraw-Hill and Pearson Educations allege Jones and his associates produced counterfeit covers for international editions of their textbooks, allowing him to sell and rent them as US editions for a significant profit.

Vice President of Global Publishing for McGraw-Hill Education Michael Hays says in an affidavit for the case that international editions are sold for a fraction of the cost of US editions. However, he states that they have markings that prevent their sale in the US. Hays says they were alerted by several different sources that their international editions were being sold within the US (emphasis added):

“[…]a legitimate retailer, Rafter, Inc., was concerned that CBR was renting counterfeit or altered textbooks at below market prices.  As part of that report,  McGraw-Hill was provided with several samples of textbooks that Rafter advised it had obtained online from CBR, and which were subsequently forwarded to me for inspection.  These books include:  Microbiology: A Systems Approach by Cowan, Business Driven Information Systems by Baltzan, The Art of Public Speaking by Lucas, and Human Biology by Mader.

Upon inspection, the inside pages of these books are from  McGraw-Hill International Editions, but the covers were not the original  McGraw-Hill International Edition covers, and instead they were unauthorized copies of the U.S. Edition covers.  In some cases, the copyright pages were removed entirely, so the copies had no copyright page.  In other cases, the copyright pages were intact, and included information identifying the book as an International Edition with a different ISBN than the ISBN on the counterfeit cover of the book.

In addition to the investigation by The Rosetti Group, we decided to rent books directly from CBR.  CBRshipped to us in New York City, a copy of Managerial Accounting by Garrison.  Upon inspection, we determined that this book was also an International Edition on which a counterfeit copy of the U.S. Edition cover was attached in place of the original International Edition cover.  In addition to the counterfeit cover, the book was missing the copyright page for this book.  Another anomaly that we observed is that the printed material that should have appeared on the inside of the front cover was no longer there. Instead, that content had been reproduced as a separate page that was inserted into the front of the book.”

Hays’ accusations are consistent with information provided by Rosetti Group founder and investigator Richard Rosetti in his affidavit. Rosetti says he was contacted to investigate the alleged counterfeit activity by McGraw-Hill. He says during his investigation a former Southeast Book Company employee described the process to him (emphasis added):

“The former SEB employees altered the International Edition books by using black electric tape or “Used” stickers to cover up these international markings. Sometimes, International Editions would come in with logos on the edges of the paper. The SEB employees would get rid of these logo stamps by using a dremmel to file the stamps off. They would also remove stickers by using baby powder or a hot iron to melt the sticker glue. Once these changes were made, the books would be placed into SEB inventory and rented as a typical U.S. textbook.

One former employee recalled that SEB employees would alter about 10,000 books a month. Six people worked at stations of 3x8 feet long tables on which the books were laid out. This former employee estimates that by the time he left in 2011, about 75% of the books received by SEB were International Editions that had to be altered in order to be rented by CBR.

The second former employee recalled that when the shipments of International Editionsarrived, most of the warehouse employees were called to work on altering the books.Some would be sorting the books at a big table while others worked at altering the bookswith dremmels, the flatiron, or stickers. The former employee also recalled that SEB employed a lot of basketball and football players from Murray State University to work on the books in this manner. The kicker and the quarterback of the football team, and others were doing a lot of this in 2010.”

The McGraw-Hill and Pearson’s Education lawsuit seeks to prevent the destruction or removal of evidence of the counterfeiting through the use of a restraining order. Efforts to contact Jones have been unsuccesful.