So John had mistakenly believed that there was a quote from Paper Towns, which he wrote and so Hank and his companies made merchandise out of the quote.

He then found out that someone claimed he never said it, so he pirated a copy of his book, control F searched the text, and did not find the quote. He contacted the girl who did, made sure his company sent the profits to her, and now she gets royalties.

Is it actually illegal for a person to pirate something they themselves made in this manner? Even though prosecution is basically not going to happen?

  • 1
    i think it would technically be piracy, since he wouldn't be the only person loosing money off a pirated copy. there is his publisher. but i doubt the publisher would care to sue. in general, if you own a company, you still can't take anything you want from it (such as buying things in the company's name but for personal profit), there are cases where that would be stealing. that is similar to the copyright technicality.
    – mo FEAR
    Oct 8, 2023 at 17:49
  • whether it should be considered a violation or not is a different question.
    – mo FEAR
    Oct 8, 2023 at 17:50
  • Could you re-phrase that? 'John Green once searched something up on a pirated copy of his own book…' doesn't seem to have a clear meaning… Oct 8, 2023 at 20:41
  • Who is John Green? Supposedly his Twitter account. Wikipedia page: "an American author, YouTuber, podcaster, and philanthropist. His books have more than 50 million copies in print worldwide, including The Fault in Our Stars (2012), which is one of the best-selling books of all time. ... credited with creating a major shift in the young adult fiction market.". Wikipedia page for the YouTube channel. So much for being culturally challenged... Oct 8, 2023 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


If he owns the copyright, it's not piracy. If he assigned the copyright to someone else, then the terms of the assignment agreement determine whether he has permission (beyond what is allowed to everyone by copyright law) to make copies.

  • 2
    Don't some jurisdictions make subverting an effective copy-protection measure a crime, regardless of the status of the protected material?
    – gidds
    Oct 7, 2023 at 20:35
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    @gidds I think so. In the US, the DMCA covers that.
    – Barmar
    Oct 7, 2023 at 20:41
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    @Mazura If you look at the front matter of any book, with very few exceptions the copyright is held by the publisher. So the author is pirating the work, just like any other person. Book publishing contracts often do provide for a transfer of copyright back to the author if the book goes out of print, presumably this wasn't the case.
    – user71659
    Oct 8, 2023 at 2:58

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