Kalami - April 2001
Pirated Book Copies Cause Scandal in the US
The Lonely Path of Integrity
Spyridon, Archbishop of America
NEW YORK.- The illegal printing and circulation of the authorized
biography of Spyridon, former Archbishop of America, written by Justine Frangouli
(I Monaxia Enos Asymvivastou - The Lonely Path of Integrity)
and published by the well known Greek publishing house Exandas
in December 2000, are acquiring scandalous proportions in the Greek American
Purchasers of the book, first in sales among Greek publications in the US,
have alleged that thousands of pirated copies are being sold in various US
cities, mainly by bookseller and publisher Sam Chekwas, the owner of a bookstore
in Astoria, New York. Stefania and Harry Nikolaou recently purchased 100 copies
of I Monaxia Enos Asymvivastou and were shocked when they opened
the boxes and found that they had purchased pirated copies, a fact they reported
to the Greek publisher and the NY District Attorney.
Many US purchasers who fell victim to these pirated copies have made similar
reports to Exandas Publishers. Such reports urged Exandas publisher Magda
Kotzia to make an official denouncement of this fact to the Pan-Hellenic Federation
of Publishers-Booksellers, the Association of Athenian Publishers-Booksellers,
the Organization of Collegial Administration of Works of Word (OSDEL), the
Publishers' Association of Scientific Books, the Publishers' Association
of Books and the Book's National Center.
The text of her denouncement is as follows:
«Exandas Publishers denounces the vast fraud, and the theft of intellectual
ownership protected by international laws. However, it refrains at present
from taking any legal measures in its effort not to compromise in any manner
the prestige of the former Archbishop of America, given that the matter pertains
to his authorized biography.
»Exandas denounces the fact that Sam Chekwas sells and resells pirated
copies of the book I Monaxia Enos Asymvivastou (The Lonely Path
of Integrity) in large quantities. This fact constitutes a danger for Greek
literature, given that the said publisher has remained the sole distributor
and promoter of Greek books in the United States, while he is also preparing
a Greek book fair with the participation of Greek publishers.
»Exandas also denounces said pirated copy for the low quality of its
duplication, which is an insult to its aesthetic value and the quality of
our publications generally, as well as to the readers themselves.
»Therefore we call upon all readers who have fallen victim to this fraud
to return the pirated copies to Sam Chekwas or any other source of their purchase,
and demand the immediate return of their money.
»We also call upon Greek publishers to denounce the act of Sam Chekwas
through public communications in the Greek and American Press and to take
all proper measures in order to stop the illegal circulation of pirated copies
of our book in the United States.»
It should be noted that this fraud has acquired dimensions of a dangerous
phenomenon, not only because thousands of illegal books have been sold, but
also because Sam Chekwas, the main trader of said pirated copies, is presented
as a promoter of Greek Letters in the United States. Said individual has a
record of debts to a large American Publishing House, and charges of theft
of intellectual property are otherwise pending against him.
Voices of reaction
His grave concern over the marketing of pirated copies of
Spyridon's biography (The Lonely Path of Integrity) within the Greek-American
community has been expressed in a statement to the Athens News Agency by Vassilis
Alexakis, a distinguished Greek writer: "It is totally inadmissible that
pirated books should be marketed in America, where Greek literature should
arrive and be promoted intact among the great Greek-American community, given
that Greek literature is one of the pivots of support for the cultural survival
of Hellenism in the Diaspora. It is particularly saddening that The Lonely
Path of Integrity which deals with such a significant part of the history
of the Greek American community, should be made the object of intellectual
theft by some who, it would seem, have no respect for history or for the Greek-American
community itself, in spite of the fact that they pass themselves off as ambassadors
of Greek letters. I have never encountered such a case in France, where my
books are sold. I am surprised that this should occur in America, where laws
on the protection of intellectual property are particularly strict."
Magda Kotzia, head of Exandas Publishers, is particularly outspoken about
this scandal regarding the theft of intellectual property through the illegal
printing and marketing of Justine Frangouli's book The Lonely Path of Integrity
in America. Ms Kotzia directly accused the official importer of the book,
Sam Chekwas, of marketing the pirated book in bulk and said that many readers
have complained of the affair to Exandas Publishers. "It is a disgrace,
she said, that pirated copies of a biography of such an important figure should
be marketed by those who obviously don't respect either intellectual rights
or the dignity of a publication. I realize that this is not the first time
that such misdeeds have been committed and it is for this reason that we denounce
this piracy refusing to allow the image of Greek literature to be counterfeited
in a highly sensitive area such as the Greek-American community."
Meanwhile, there have been strong reactions to the printing and illegal circulation
of the biography in the Greek American community itself. Business magnate
Michael Cantonis, a former executive member of the Archdiocesan Council of
the Archdiocese of America, had to say: "This is a crime not only against
the rule of law but also against morality. The district attorney should intervene
immediately to punish in an exemplary manner the person or persons guilty
of this intellectual embezzlement that damages the prestige of the Greek publishing
house and of an established author. The fraud should stop here and there should
be no repetitions injuring the lawful interests of Greek publishers in America.
Such illegal acts may easily become an obstacle to future importation of Greek
literature into a country with such a large Greek community."
John Catsimatidis, a Greek-American businessman and publisher of The Hellenic
Times newspaper, described himself as "staggered by this fraud; those
responsible, not only for the marketing but for the reprinting Spyridon's
biography, should be prosecuted."
Chris Stratakis, a distinguished jurist and former chair of the Legal Committee
of the Archdiocesan Council, offered the following comments: "I condemn
any attempt at theft of intellectual property, which, according to American
law, is subject to penal sanctions. In this case the value of intellectual
property is the product of the author's psyche and her experiences. I am,
therefore, particularly sensitive to the issue of book piracy and consider
that legal measures should be taken immediately to protect the property of
the Greek publishing house and the intellectual product of an author who has
offered the Greek-American community a historical biography."
[ Translated from Greek ]
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