Author helps Russian pirate to translate book


A US author has taken the unusual step of helping an Internet user who began pirating his work to translate his book into Russian.

Peter Mountford, whose debut novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism was published in April 2011, revealed the news in a self-published article in the November edition of The Atlantic.

He said he noticed people discussing his book on the translation website in March this year. One user called AlexanderIII, based in Moscow, repeatedly asked other users to explain certain English phrases in the book. After thinking someone was poised to publish his book in Russia, Mountford realised that no-one had bought the rights to it in the country and that “AlexanderIII must be translating it for some kind of book-pirating outfit”.

AlexanderIII appeared to stop translating the book before Mountford sent him a message in July offering to help. Within two weeks AlexanderIII had replied to Mountford, who then began assisting the unknown translator.

According to The Guardian, which spoke to Mountford, the author offered help because no-one had bought the rights in Russia in more than a year and he wanted to promote the novel there. He believed the lack of interest from publishers partly stemmed from the “robust” black market for ebooks in the country.

The US government’s 2012 Special 301 Report listed the book publishing industry in Russia as one that continues to face “serious challenges with respect to IPR enforcement”. The report said that althoughRussia has made “important” progress to improve IPR protection and enforcement, “significant concerns remain, particularly with respect to piracy over the Internet”.

AlexanderIII, whose identity is still unknown to Mountford, finished translating the author’s book in November, according to reports. The Russian rights to the book remain unsold.

Mountford’s approach contrasts that of author Terry Goodkind, who exposed a man on his Facebook page in July for allegedly pirating his best-selling novel, The First Confessor. Goodkind released the image and details of the man, before almost all the piracy links were apparently deleted.

This article was first published on 01 December 2012 in World IP Review

terry goodkind, russia, peter mountford, the first confessor

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