Amazon Selling Pirated Editions of Croatian Books?

Total Croatia News

Somebody is making good money, but writers get nothing.

Last week’s Interliber Book Fair in Zagreb, in addition to being remembered as the most profitable and most visited in the previous 40 years, will also be remembered by the fact that it was marked by a discovery that Amazon is selling a pirated edition of Kristian Novak’s books “Gypsy, But the Most Beautiful”, reports Jutarnji List on November 20, 2017.

The controversy with one of the best Croatian books this year, which will be adapted into play later this year, provoked controversy in Croatian literary and publishing circles. The scandal was discovered after a pirated copy of the book was delivered to a reader in Germany. The reader, who is Novak’s friend, immediately noticed that it was a pirated edition and informed the writer and publisher, the OceanMore publishing house, and later provided them with the copy.

“It was immediately clear that this was an unauthorised edition. It looked very primitive, very amateurish. The book was a paperback, and we have never released it in such a format. The outlay was different, and the pages were not numbered,” said Gordana Farkaš Sfeci, the editor and owner of the OceanMore publishing house.

The book, which was available on Amazon for 16.32 euros, which is almost the same price as in Croatian bookstores, was described by tags “Croatian books” and “modern classics”.

Further investigation revealed that “Gypsy, But the Most Beautiful” is by no means the only pirated Croatian book on Amazon. Described as “Croatian classics”, “Croatian books”, “modern classics” and similarly, there are over eighty suspect editions, all of which appear to be illegally published by the same ambitious publisher. Some of them have been uploaded to the online store as early as 2014, so it can be concluded that someone has been stealing money from authors for some time.

The mysterious seller offers a range of books, many by authors who died long time ago, which is important in this context since, according to the laws, the copyright of a writer exists for 70 years after their death, after which the works become part of the public domain and are no longer considered intellectual property. The works of August Šenoa, Josip Eugen Tomić, Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, Eugen Kumičić, Dinko Šimunović and others who died more than 70 years ago can be freely published. However, in most cases, the unknown publisher has also stolen the design of the book covers. Of course, as for works by authors who are alive or died more recently, there is no doubt that the books in question are illegal.

All of the books were placed on Amazon via the Create Space platform, which is a service primarily intended as a way for writers to publish their books without an intermediary publisher. It operates as a print-on-demand service, which means that, when a customer orders the book, a copy of the book is printed and sent to the reader. Create Space also offers assistance in selecting the price and distribution channels for the book and can format the books for the Kindle device and help in the cover design as well.

Create Space is owned by Amazon, which is why all the books created on the platform are sold there. All the books produced by Create Space have been put for sale without any identifier of the “publisher”, which means that it is impossible to find information about the identity of the person in question.

Seid Serdarević, the editor-in-chief and owner of the Fractura publishing house, informed Amazon about the issue. “Amazon told me that they would need about a week to investigate whether these are truly pirated books, although we believe that is not in question,” says Serdarević, who did not want to guess who the fake publisher might be. “Pirated editions are nothing new. Somebody has taken advantage of Amazon’s ​​self-publishing initiative. I think people in the West do not perceive it in the same way, but the service is obviously being abused,” says Serdarević, adding that he assumes that Amazon would investigate who the publisher is by checking the bank account to which the money is being paid. “After that, a criminal complaint might follow, but that is a matter for lawyers,” he concludes.

However, some other publishers have had problems in earlier similar situations. OceanMore says that Kristian Novak himself tried to contact Amazon. “He tried to find out who was the person who was selling copies of his books, but they ignored his question by saying that they are not the ones who sell these books, but just a platform where anyone can place their products,” says Farkaš Sfeci.

Đurđica Paić, head of the copyright department at the Croatian Authors Agency, said she was surprised by the pirated books, which violated the rights of authors, but also of graphic artists, illustrators, photographers and publishers. In such cases, the first step is to try to reach a solution in a settlement process. If no agreement is reached, they recommend engaging attorneys specialising in intellectual property issues. “All copyright holders in such cases can file their complaints with the relevant State Attorney’s Office,” explains Paić, adding that Amazon should provide specific information about the persons who are selling the books and “the data can also be requested through court.”

Translated from Jutarnji List.


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