Faligi Editore: If the Shoe Fits, You Must Admit

Reposted from the No Peanuts! for Translators blog
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Last October, No Peanuts! published an editorial, “There Oughta Be a Law! – Faligi Editore Finds a Whole New Way to Cheat Translators,” in which we criticized this Italian ePublisher for practices that are, let’s just say, “adverse” to the interests of translators and of the profession.

To wit: The requirement that in order to be “selected” by Faligi, translators must pay €160 to take a seminar (called, disingenuously enough, the “Creative Meeting”), which gives them the possibility of being assigned a translation by Faligi which then gives them the possibility of being paid in royalties if a) Faligi accepts and publishes the book and b) the book ever earns any money.

To complicate things, Faligi publishes exclusively in eBook format. Most of their books retail for between €0.99 and €9.99 a copy, which means that a translator earning a 5% royalty on the cover price (nearly unheard of, but let’s dream) wouldn’t be adequately paid for a book length manuscript until somewhere between 6,000 (at the high end) and 60,000 copies (at the low end) had been sold.

Keep in mind that these are not terms negotiated in good faith between translator and publisher: they are the mandatory conditions of the job.

Faligi’s proprietors also insist that, because “we live in a multilingual world,” there’s no need to entrust translations to translators who are native speakers of the target language. That’s why the vast majority of their translators are Italian, translating into every language in the world (including, sometimes, even Italian). Now there’s a guarantee of high-quality literature if ever we’ve heard one.

But we digress.

There Oughta Be a Law! – Faligi Editore Finds a Whole New Way to Cheat Translators” was translated into Italian by our esteemed colleague, Isabella Zani, and posted under the title “Ci Vorrebbe Una Legge! (Il caso Faligi Editore).”

In February, Faligi hired an attorney and sent Ms. Zani a letter threatening her with criminal and civil penalties if she did not remove the post in Italian, which Faligi claimed was “defamatory” and constituted “unfair competition.” (Wait. What? Faligi undercuts professional Italian translators by hiring newbies essentially for free, but “Ci Vorrebbe Una Legge” constitutes unfair competition?) (If you read Italian, you can review this paragon of legal prose here in .pdf format.)

It’s helpful to know, by the way, that truth is not a defense against libel or slander in Italy.

Initially, as we circled the wagons and considered options, we removed the translation, but not the original version in English. Today, because Isabella Zani is not only a crackerjack translator but also an extremely courageous woman who doesn’t appreciate being messed with, we’re fighting back.

Ci Vorrebbe Una Legge! (Il caso Faligi Editore)” is once again online. If you’re interested in all the inside shizzle, you can also read: 1) No Peanuts!’ 7 March 2012 letter to Faligi’s attorneys (in English), written before we’d decided to put the translation back on our blog; and 2) Isabella Zani’s 23 March 2012 letter to Faligi’s attorneys (in Italian) announcing the re-publication of her translation on the No Peanuts! site and making clear her refusal to be intimidated.

Please lend your solidarity to Ms. Zani and to Italian translators who contend on a daily basis with what is perhaps the most unfavorable translation market in Europe. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted.

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