March 04 2010
by Sarah Rebecca Kersley from the Urso de Óculos blog
São Paulo based publisher Landmark has initiated legal proceedings against Brazilian translator and blogger Denise Bottmann.
The case relates to allegations published on Bottmann’s blog that Brazilian editions of Persuasion by Jane Austen and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte are plagiarised translations. Raquel Sallaberry, on whose blog the assertion of plagiarism was also published, has been summoned as an additional defendant in the dispute.
The lawsuit, initiated in February, calls for the blogs in question to be deleted, and claims financial compensation for libel. According to statements published on their websites, Denise and Raquel have both instructed lawyers to prepare their cases for defence.
As described here and also on my previous blog, Denise writes about the alarmingly widespread occurrence of plagiarism of literary translations in Brazil. Since 2007, she has documented numerous situations on her blog in which publishers have broken the law by selling existing texts under new names as though they were original translations.
Each alleged example of plagiarism on the blog is backed up with samples from the books concerned, with details of publishers, editions, year of publication and names of translators, all easily verifiable by any reader who cares to check. Some of the publishers involved have entered into dialogue with Denise, and a few have admitted errors graciously, stating publicly that books will be withdrawn.
Persuasion was first mentioned on Denise’s blog in January 2009, with a detailed post (in Portuguese) about the texts and the circumstances of the Landmark edition. The post shows the similarities between the Landmark translation by Fabio Cyrino and a previous translation published in Portugal.
Denise was alerted to the situation by Raquel Sallaberry, who also published examples on her blog. As the news quickly spread across the Internet, Denise contacted me to let me know, as I had previously praised Landmark for the initiative in publishing Austen. Landmark’s Bronte translation is also included on Denise’s list of dubious editions, with a clarification following her communication with the person accredited as the translator.
The story of the lawsuit has been widely reported in Brazilian print and online media over the last two weeks, with a huge wave of support and solidarity for Bottman and Sallaberry from publishers, bookshops, associations, writers, translators and bloggers.
Urso de Óculos bookshop – to which my blog is inextricably linked – neither stocks nor recommends to readers any titles published by Landmark.
Four Brazilian translators have set up an online petition in support of Denise, with an explanation in English on the blog I Support Denise: http://apoiodenise.wordpress.com/. More background in English too, in this article written last year by Danilo Nogueira and Kelli Semolini.