February 28, 2023
CITMA article- Copyright claim gets lost in translation
CITMA article- Copyright claim gets lost in translation

Let us tell you a tale of a copyright claim between two books based on a similar theme...

Both works revolve around the love affair between Boris Pasternak, the author of Doctor Zhivago, and Olga Ivinskaya. One is a work of non-fiction by the Claimant, Lara: The Untold Love Story that Inspired Doctor Zhivago (Lara), and the other a work of historical fiction by the Defendant, The Secrets We Kept (TSWK).

The Claimant alleged copyright infringement in respect of Lara and the English translation of Légendes de la rue Potapov. The claim was that parts of the translation had been copied as had the selection of events in several chapters of Lara.

The Defendant claimed to have used as primary sources a book published in 1978, A Captive of Time, and a book published in 2014 giving a factual account of Pasternak’s life. She claimed to have used Lara as a secondary source.

Catherine Byfield explains for CITMA why this decision involves a lengthy comparison of two works and their sources that covers why...

  • subsistence of and infringement of copyright are two distinct issues
  • the question of what qualifies as a substantial part is qualitative not quantitative  
  • background information and evidence can be very informative; clear timelines are also crucial

It serves as a reminder of the care that must be taken when quoting works of others and the steps to take to avoid a copyright infringement claim. You can read the full article here.

Publishing /  Designs & Copyright /  Arts & Entertainment /  Disputes

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