- Source: Global Times
- [04:50 May 24 2011]
By Liu Meng, Global Times.
YYeTs, a non-profit organization providing Chinese subtitles for foreign movies and TV series, claimed in its microblog Sunday that a book published by Shaanxi Normal University Press (SNUP) this month had plagiarized its translation of subtitles to a Yale University online open course.
"We complied with the regulations of Yale University and provided the Chinese subtitles to the public for free, never anticipating that someone would take advantage of them to make a profit. I have the deepest disdain for the author," said the microblog post.
A staff member of the Beijing branch of SNUP surnamed Wang, who is also in charge of publishing the book, told the Global Times Monday that it had received permission from the author before publishing the book, but not from Yale University.
The 300,000-word book Yale University, which was written by Wu Han, is a compilation of five Yale open courses, including "Financial Markets," "Philosophy: Death" and "European Civilization."
Dangdang.com, a well-known online bookshop, released part of the content of about 700 words. The Shenzhen-based Southern Metropolis Daily found Monday that the similarity rate of the book to Lesson Two of "Financial Markets" was as high as 95 percent.
"The rate is high enough to constitute copyright infringement," Liu Wenjie, a law professor at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times. "The publisher is responsible for checking whether a book is suspected of any infringement."
According to the Yale University website, open courses are not allowed to be used for commercial purposes, which Liu argues to mean that anyone intending to profit from the open courses should first obtain permission from Yale.
Wu denied plagiarizing the work of YYeTs, but claimed that he had attended the open courses at Yale University and then rewritten the contents in the book. "I will look for the permission but I've almost forgotten where I placed it," Wu said on the phone.
Wang told the Global Times that usually the managing editor of the publishing company asks veteran editors and experts to check if the book has any plagiarism problems.
"We confirmed that there were neither previously published books with similar contents nor any related contents on the Internet," said Wang. "However, the subtitles suspected of being plagiarized appear on the video, which is really hard for us to detect."
The publisher is now waiting for Wu to provide the permission from Yale and is investigating similarities between the book and the subtitles. "If we find any copyright infringements, we will deal with it according to the law," said Wang.
The Global Times' call to YYeTs went unanswered.
It is not possible for two individual parties who have hardly had any communication to come up with highly similar translations, said Liu.
"YYeTs has the copyright on the subtitles. If Wu cannot provide enough proof in his favor, YYeTs could still sue him even if Wu did get permission from Yale University," said Liu.