Russia’s Algoritm Publishing House Accused of Piracy

In News by Dennis Abrams

Several western journalists have accused Algoritm Publishing House in Russia, a firm that specializes in political titles on Putin, of plagiarism.

By Dennis Abrams

Algoritm Publishing House specializes on titles about Putin.

Algoritm Publishing House specializes on titles about Putin.

The Moscow Times reports that journalists Luke Harding, Edward Lucas, and others have accused Moscow publishing house Algoritm of “pirating their work and printing books using their names without their permission or prior knowledge.”

The paper cites written comments from Edward Lucas regarding whether he had written How The West Lost to Putin, published last year by Algoritm.

“Absolutely no idea about this book. I have not given permission of any kind,” he said, adding that “It is clearly a breach of copyright.”

All of the titles under scrutiny are part of Algoritm’s Project Putin series — 20 books that examine different sides of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies.

Donald Jensen said that he had not known about Algoritm’s Putin and the U.S.A., published under his name earlier this year and available in Moscow bookstores, until the paper contacted him.

“Wow, I have not written such a book in any language, it looks to be a compendium of my [U.S. federal news service] Voice of America commentaries (with an inaccurate summary), Jensen said by email.

Sergei Nikolayev, Algoritm’s director, confessed that “prior permission was not sought from Harding, a journalist at Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, to use his writings in a book called Nobody Except Putin,” saying that “If he [Harding] surfaces then we will come to some agreement and pay him a fee.”

In written comments, Harding said that his publisher, Guardian Faber, will investigate the possibility of taking legal action against Algoritm.

“The first I heard about it was a couple of weeks ago when a Russian friend said he’d spotted my ‘book’ in a Moscow bookstore … normally publishers buy rights, translate, then put out an edition,” said Harding.

To date, Nikolayev has not commented on the claims of either Lucas or Jensen, citing unfamiliarity with their cases and the fact that he “had been off work for several days.”

In the article, author Howard Amos notes that, “while Russia has strict domestic copyright laws, the country is known for piracy of international music, film and book content. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative placed Russia on its priority watch list in its annual report on the world’s worst copyright violators, called the Special 301 Report, issued in April.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.