Book pirates reminded of responsibility


Stephen King topped the rating of the most published authors of fiction in Russia for the first half of 2022, while the writer had previously stated that he would not enter into new contracts with Russian publishers. Amateur translators will certainly create Russian-language versions of new books by King, Rowling, Gaiman and other authors who have left Russia, experts told Parliamentary Newspaper, but it will be difficult to distribute them in the legal field.

We will not remain without reading

The total circulation of books by the American writer Stephen King exceeded one million copies, 151 editions of his works were published in Russia in six months, according to an analytical report of the Russian Book Chamber. The British writer JK Rowling became the leader of the ranking among the most published authors in the segment of children’s literature: in the first half of 2022, 21 editions of her books were published in Russia with a total circulation of 752,000 copies.

Back in the spring, the copyright holder banned the distribution of Rowling’s works in Russia: electronic versions of Harry Potter books disappeared from online stores, and bookstores sell the remaining print editions. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and other popular foreign authors stopped cooperating with Russian publishers. However, their books are still on store shelves.

The authors have withdrawn the rights to publish their works in our country, but the remnants of circulation are in circulation, the co-owner of the Chitay-Gorod-Bukvoed network told Parliamentary Newspaper Denis Kotov. In addition, libraries will store these books, he added, so the Russians will not be completely without their favorite literature.

“The writers in question are circulation leaders, but this does not always linearly correspond to the demand for their books in stores,” Kotov added. “In any case, the Russians have and will have something to read: we are talking about both Russian and foreign authors.”

Pirating is getting harder

The departure of any author from the country does not mean that his copyright is no longer protected here – intellectual property is subject to protection both at the international and national levels, a member of the Association of Lawyers of Russia told Parliamentary Newspaper Natalya Scriabina. Russia is a member of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which means that any proceedings regarding books must take place according to domestic laws, and they are quite strict.

Both the author’s personal non-property rights, such as the right to a name, and the right to distribute a work or part of it, use any objects of copyright are protected, the lawyer noted. But, as it happens, the severity of the law is compensated by the optionality of its implementation.

“The main problem of book piracy is that it is almost impossible to track where and to whom a work is being leaked; this is facilitated by the increasing distribution of e-books,” Scriabina said. “But the fight against counterfeiting is also evident: it is becoming more and more difficult to illegally download a book “with one click” on the Internet, many Telegram channels with pirated content are blocked, which makes it easier for people to buy a book in a store or e-book service.”

Translations of works by great authors create professional teams, this is not a quick and expensive job, the head of the Union of Translators of Russia told Parliamentary Newspaper Olga Ivanova. Pros enter into contracts with publishers and are unlikely to agree to translate the same King and Rowling in a handicraft, the expert suggested. “Amateur translators can do this, but they have no right to take money for it,” Ivanova added.

It is possible that the leftist will appear on samizdat sites, there are many of them on the Internet, said a member of one of these communities. Evgeniya Abakumova. “Serious sites don’t publish pirated translations, but you don’t have to write the name of the original author,” she said in an interview with Parliamentary Newspaper. – Translations are put on stream: teams gather, divide the book into chapters, with which an external editor then works. Such an industry will translate any book.”

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People haven’t been tried yet.

You can answer under the law for piracy from the age of 16, the lawyer reminded Natalia Greshnova. For the appropriation of authorship, or plagiarism, the Criminal Code punishes: if the damage is large, then you can get a fine of up to two hundred thousand rubles or arrest for up to six months. For the illegal use of copyright objects in order to generate income, you can get a real term of up to two years, and if a group worked or an official position was used for criminal purposes, then the offender faces up to six years.

In Russia, there is still no practice of holding individuals liable for book piracy, the chief legal adviser on intellectual property of the EBR company told Parlamentskaya Gazeta Kirill Lyakhmanov. At the same time, the largest online libraries with illegal content are blocked in our country. “If someone decides to publish new books by authors who left Russia through samizdat or the mechanism for paying license fees to a single account, the author or his representatives will be able to file a lawsuit,” the lawyer said.

The State Duma is considering an initiative to simplify the blocking of resources with pirated content, the head of the Duma IT Committee reminded Parlamentskaya Gazeta Alexander Khinshtein (“United Russia”). It provides control over various works – music, film production, literature. However, it is possible to put a barrier to counterfeit only at the initiative of the right holder, the deputy noted.

“Whether such an initiative came from foreign authors, I don’t know,” Khinshtein commented. “If the work itself is not banned in Russia, then, obviously, it can be published here.”


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