Athens News Agency - April 4, 2001

Pirating of Spyridon's Biography Gives Rise to 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 ]

[ Αθηναϊκό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων - April 4, 2001 ]