Diggory Press v Stephen T Manning Court Case. DIGITAL FILES – THEFT AND EXTORTION

One of the many unreasonable demands that Stephen T Manning of Checkpoint Press, Dooagh Village, Achill Island, Eire has made of Diggory Press Ltd is that “his” digital files are “returned” to him.

Before we investigate this bogus claim, a quick explanation is needed as to what these digital files are:

Stephen T Manning hired Diggory Press Ltd to make his manuscript “print ready” for the printers. This involved Diggory Press creating a front and rear cover and spine for the title, and making sure the title’s cover was the right format, size and print resolution. It involved placing a proper book barcode on it, and working on the book interior, again ensuring it was the right size with fonts correctly embedded at the correct dpi, and so on and so forth. These digital files for the cover and text interior were then checked over and authorised by Manning, and were then sent on to the digital printers to print Manning’s book “on demand’.

Digital files have value because of all the “man hours” of labour behind them in creating them during pre publication work. Even in a digital age, the costs for typesetting, cover art and other such pre production work can be very expensive. Most firms you’d be lucky to get change out of £500 for a very basic service from them – and this would not be counting in the costs of corrections, where each and every correction, however small, can easily cost a minimum of £50 a time.

Digital files also have value in their future potential. Because they are needed to digitally produce and print a book (or ebook), they are an asset because of the potential royalties on any book sales produced by using these digital files.

Everybody in the printing and publishing process knows the value of digital files  – especially the self publishing author.

A few printers or agents may offer significantly discounted price pre-publication work to create digital files for authors or publishers, provided that the digital files they produce for the author or publisher are only used by and through their print services. They’ll often have a minimum amount of copies the author has to buy to recoup what profit was “lost” at the pre production stage, and/or have a minimum contract and tie-in to cover themselves in the future to ensure the author has to come back to them for more books.

So even though the content of the book (e.g. the story) is fully the author’s, and it is his or her copyright, and is (usually) his or hers to use as they wish and even have printed and produced elsewhere, the cut-price digital files produced by the printer or agent on the author’s behalf are not the author’s property.

So digital files produced in such a way are NOT the author’s property. And they would not be ‘returned’ to the author, as they were never ‘given’ by the author in the first place.

A printer or agent would not be “seizing and highjacking” the title (as Manning wrongly claims Diggory Press did) by refusing to “return” digital files when there was a parting of ways, nor would they be “making extortive demands” (ditto, Manning) by asking a reasonable market price for the digital files so the author could freely use them anywhere else he wanted to in the future.

To explain this a little bit more clearly for technophobes – it’s rather like if you go and get something printed at an old fashioned printers (i.e. a non digital printers that use print plates). Even though the printer may design your item of stationery for you, and then create print plates especially for your stationery, and then print off your stationery items using these same print plates, you as this printer’s customer would have no right of ownership to the valuable print plates he used to produce your item. You’d only have rights to the end item, the actual stationery produced. You could not take that printer’s plates to use at another printers for a new print run! Unless of course, you bought the plates from the first printers by separate negotiation. (It’s possible also that the printer’s design for your stationery would be copyrighted, so if you produced ‘knock off’ items on your photocopier or at another printers you could also be breaching the printer’s copyright and breaking the law.)

Manning took Rosalind Franklin personally (not the Diggory Press Ltd company she worked for) to the small claims court, suing her for “his” digital files along with a load of other concocted nonsense he’d made up to smear her. This was part of Manning’s ongoing harassment against Rosalind, an openly Christian businesswoman.

The small claims court is a civil (not criminal court) where anyone can attempt to sue anyone else for pretty much anything  – it does not mean their claim has any truth or substance to it whatsoever, or is even against the right person to being with. (Manning even had the brazenness to claim relief from court fees to make his abusive, fictitious and harassing claims, but that’s another story.)

So anyway there was a court case between Manning and Rosalind Franklin of Diggory Press where a judge heard evidence about Manning’s digital files claim.

Rosalind Franklin of Diggory Press Ltd when giving evidence on this issue explained it to the court by equating it to a professional wedding photographer taking photos at a wedding. The photographer takes “your pictures”, using your face, in your environment at your wedding, having been ordered by you and paid for by your money; and he’s working on your behalf in response to your specific requests. You are entitled to purchase pictures taken under this deal from the photographer as many times as you like in the future, however you would NOT be entitled to have outright ownership of the negativescontaining “your images” of “your occasion” (unless this was separately stipulated in the contract). And you would also be technically breaking the photographer’s copyright if you tried to bypass the photographer and get prints of his work elsewhere, or otherwise tried to copy it by scanning it or photocopying it. In such a way, Rosalind Franklin successfully argued, digital files were like the negatives of the book, and the author had no rights to demand them for free, especially and even more so when the contract between Diggory Press Ltd and Manning clearly stipulated that digital files remained the property of the publisher and would have to be purchased by separate negotiation.

Under such circumstances, any newly-wed trying to sue his wedding photographer for “his” negatives, and any author trying to sue the printers for “his” print plates would be laughed out of court – rather as Manning was, the judge ruling in Rosalind Franklin and Diggory Press’s favour in November 2009 that Manning had no right to the digital files Diggory Press had worked on for him  – which, of course, Manning had known all along anyway.

The evidence illustrates Manning had not been innocently mistaken. The abundant evidence shows that Manning knew the files were not his to keep from day one. This is shown in his own emails on the issue before his failed extortion attempt, as well as the clear contract between him and Diggory which was not in tiny print, plus there is more damning evidence from his own Checkpoint Press publishing website which I’ll go into shortly. Also, IF these digital files were Manning’s property, then once the finalised files had been checked over and authorised by Manning, Manning would have then used these files directly with the printers for himself instead of continuing to use Diggory Press as the middleman once the publishing process was over, as he did in fact do. He would not have placed orders for books with DP but with the printers direct instead. So his behaviour for many months after the files were finished for him makes no sense unless he is lying now, which we, of course, assert.

Rosalind Franklin has consistently stated to the courts and the police that Manning is not innocent – he is a criminal, a serial blackmailer who was trying to extort these valuable files along with some money from Diggory Press, with the threat to smear her and her business if she did not give into his unreasonable demands.  She refused, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Diggory Press as a company, and RF as a person, have had one of the most sustained, lying, hateful and vindictive orchestrated smear campaigns conducted against them possible. This is in addition to everything else behind the scenes such as death threats, And for what? All for Manning’s greed – and a sick pleasure at taunting and punishing his prey for not giving into him, boasting he is teaching them a lesson.  Even though Manning’s first alleged extortion attempt failed, Manning is allegedly carrying on lying, smearing, threatening, bullying, intimidating and harassing his prey with the hope that she will crack and bow under all the relentless pressure and pay him off.

Manning by his writings demonstrates an evident hatred against professing evangelical Christians like Rosalind Franklin so this may be an additional motive for his harassment. Certainly Manning taunts her regularly calling her deluded for holding her professed beliefs. Manning has revealed he hated that Rosalind Franklin and Diggory Press helped produce a Christian charity’s “non tolerant” book which showed up religious cults and sects including the Unification church (the Moonies) to which Manning and his spouse (that he was married to in a Moonie mass wedding ceremony) have had long term associations. So who knows all this criminal’s additional motives in this campaign other than ‘pure’ greed for filthy lucre and personal ambition.

The ironic thing for all their vilification is that Diggory Press Ltd had been so good to Manning and had significantly undercharged him. Rosalind Franklin personally had gone more than the extra mile with Manning at a tiny price, and had graciously put up with him taking a lot of liberties even before he made his extortive demands. She personally, and the company, gave an excellent service at a fraction of all the other firms out there – doing literally ten times more for authors, at literally ten times less the price charged by most other self publishing operators. It was no wonder that in a tainted industry Diggory Press shone and had such an impeccable reputation, and no wonder they were growing so rapidly with so many repeat customers. Until Manning started to smear them, that is.

For a web based business dependant on getting custom through the web, mud sticks. And one malicious man can pretend to be many people from the safety of his computer, and make it appear something has gone on to “the many” that has not even happened to the one. Diggory Press WERE too good to be true, but only because Rosalind was a mug and charged too little for what she did. But for those what suspected it was too good to be true, when they heard the mud they were all too inclined to believe it.

In addition to all Manning’s lies against Diggory Press and Rosalind Franklin and any other innocents caught in the path – hundreds and hundreds of Manning lies, ever evolving, constantly contradicting –  and an ongoing barrage of other dirty tricks, threats and harassment, Manning did dirty things like entering multiple false claims against Diggory Press Ltd in the small claims court (alleging anything damaging he could make up), and then going to the press and saying “Diggory Press have all these claims against them for fraud, theft, abuse etc etc  ..” and the press printed that as fed to them by Manning without checking it out. This sounded terrible and did make their name mud, but what the reckless press did not report was all these claims were all nonsense claims entered and paid and sponsored for by Manning, operator of a wannabe rival business, Checkpoint Press, and that none of these claims had any truth or substance to them – some of these claims even used false names!

Some of these claims were so bogus it was laughable (e.g. the person, “VK’ who was not even a customer claiming £250 for the loss of an unsolicited CD disc she’d supposedly sent into DP), – laughable claims that is, if it had not had such a devastating affect on Rosalind and her business, and also the genuine Diggory Press customers who suffered because of Manning’s criminal and perjurious activity which in time affected all of them.

Anyway, here is the evidence from Manning’s own Checkpoint Press website. (You can click on any of the images to enlarge them). The screenshots are evidence that Manning is well aware about who owns digital files in the publishing process. Here is what Manning says to HIS own prospective self publishing authors about digital files – taken over three different screenshots –  so he doesn’t just say it one time. He obviously knows the custom and is not an innocently mistaken author! What a total menace he is – and a hypocrite. It’s one rule for him, and another rule for anyone else.

Screenshot 1 from Checkpoint Press, Achill Island

Screenshot 2 from Checkpoint Press, Achill Island

Screenshot 3 from Checkpoint Press, Achill Island

This article was written by Sleuth for Truth, Nov 10th 2009

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