You may already have heard that Denise Bottmann, a Brazilian translator, is being sued by a Brazilian publisher for having exposed on her blog what is apparently a long-standing practice in Brazil: the republication of previously published translations–either eliminating the original translator’s name or, in some cases, using it without permission. The issue is that translators are not being compensated for re-translation/re-publication rights, as the law (and common decency) would require.
A petition in support of Denise is online at:
Because the petition is in Portuguese, here’s a quick-and-dirty English translation to help you get the gist.
Please read, sign, and disseminate!
To: MEDIA OUTLETS, TRANSLATORS, EDITORS, CULTURAL WORKERS, AND ALL THOSE INTERESTED IN COPYRIGHT
Reports in the media have made professionals in many fields aware that yet another lawsuit has been filed against the translator, Denise Bottmann, as the result of the accusations of plagiarism published on her blog “I Object to Plagiarism.”
Over the years, Denise’s tireless work has unmasked numerous examples of plagiarism, making clear that the extent of this crime is far greater than anyone had imagined when she filed her first reports.
In this instance, the lawsuit was filed by Editora Landmark, which made the following demands to the Brazilian court: significant monetary relief for alleged moral damages; a media blackout on court proceedings; and the closing down of Denise’s blog, “I Object to Plagiarism.” Citing the Brazilian “right to oblivion” law, Editora Landmark has also requested a preliminary injection against “I Object to Plagiarism” (i.e., it has asked the court to shut the blog down and to purge its contents entirely from the internet even before the lawsuit has been decided on its merits).
In fact, Denise’s blog has become widely known in only a short time. As such, it has served as a lightning rod and an “inconvenient truth” for a publishing industry that has up to now been undisturbed in its quiet rush to copy and re-publish previously published translations-using translators’ real names or, in some cases, fictitious ones that disguise the work of the actual translators.
Because complaints about this practice are not only continuous but increasing, we, the undersigned, have joined together to call attention to a practice that:
1. Violates the Copyright Act, according to which the translator is considered the author of a derivative work and has moral and economic rights that deserve protection;
2. Creates unfair competition to the extent that some publishers, acting in bad faith, re-publish translations without paying for translation rights or retranslations, thereby disadvantaging honest publishers who are concerned about maintaining their good reputation;
3. Undermines our cultural heritage through the dissemination of illegally copied and re-published works which often nonetheless bear the names of translators who are known and appreciated in our literature.
For these reasons, and in the hope that justice will be done, we have published this expression of support for Denise Bottmann’s efforts. We ask anyone interested in combating the criminal practice of plagiarism and enriching the cultural life in this country to join us.