The publisher of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s tell-all memoir has reached an out-of-court settlement with a staffer in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office, after the adviser received and forwarded a pirated copy of the new book.
- Hardie Grant’s lawyers demanded Scott Morrison’s staffer Nico Louw “cease and desist” in sharing copies of the manuscript
- The publisher says it will pursue at least 59 others who received the manuscript, reserving its rights to widen the net
- Mr Turnbull took aim at Mr Louw on Wednesday, labelling digital piracy as “theft”
Lawyers for Hardie Grant stepped in over the weekend, sending Nico Louw demands to “cease and desist” in sending copies of the 677-page manuscript to staffers and politicians ahead of its release on Monday.
The staffer has since apologised, and the details of the settlement are confidential.
Despite this, Hardie Grant has told the ABC it will continue to pursue at least 59 other people who received the hefty tome, arguing the whole saga has been a serious breach of Australia’s copyright laws.
It is also reserving its right to pursue an even greater number of people, if it discovers they too received copies.
Mr Turnbull took aim at Mr Louw on Wednesday, during an interview at the National Press Club, labelling digital piracy as “theft” and describing it as a “life and death” matter for the book industry.
“This is a very big deal for the publishers — not just my publisher, but publishers generally,” he said.
“Mr Nico Louw admits he’s distributed the pirated copies of my book.
“If you do that it’s like walking into Dymocks and nicking 59 copies of a book. No one would ever contemplate doing that, I hope.”
On Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office said it could not comment on the legal proceedings, but said all staff had “been reminded of their obligations under copyright law, and of the high standards of conduct expected of them”.
Extracts from A Bigger Picture were leaked to The Australian last week, stealing some of the thunder from the book’s planned roll out days after.
The actions by the staffer in Mr Morrison’s office prompted questions to many politicians as to whether they had received the pirated book.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday that she had “received and deleted” the email, and would not comment on where it had come from.
Former minister Matt Canavan said on Tuesday he had received it four or five times, but had not read the book.
The memoir, containing unflattering character assessments of Mr Turnbull’s former frontbench, examines his time as leader of the Liberal party, and the leadership challenge that ended his time in The Lodge.
Mr Morrison said he was too focused on steering the country through the coronavirus pandemic to comment on Mr Turnbull’s criticism that he was duplicitous in the 2018 coup.