The FINANCIAL — Georgia is one of the markets where Iran is selling a huge number of English language books. Many of them are written by famous authors.
The books are republished illegally. Some of them are adapted, or being issued with minor changes. If there are no complaints from the books’ original authors, local authorities are not going to limit distribution of such products.
The price difference between original and pirated books is evident. Total English is one of the pirated books coming from Iran. Whereas the original book costs 30 GEL (19 USD), a pirated one costs only 11 GEL. There are Elementary Vocabulary books by BJ Thomas too, which cost just 4.50 GEL.
“This is Elementary Vocabulary. This book is imported from Iran. It is provided by a private entity. I can’t say that people prefer pirated books to originals except for the reason that they are cheaper. They are of very low quality however,” added the Manager.
“Because of the high price of original versions of the books, there is sufficient demand for the cheap, pirated books from Iran,” said the Manager of Laterna bookshop. “Educational preparatory books are mostly copyrighted. About 35 such books are sold at Laterna bookshop. The cheapest books are BJ Thomas books which cost 3 GEL and the highest – 22-25 GEL Oxford vocabulary books,” said the Manager of Laterna bookshop.
In most cases the text in pirated handbooks is the same as in the original ones. But they are adapted to Iranian culture and religion. In such books illustrations are replaced with Iranian-themed pictures. Images of woman in such books are shown wearing the “yashmak”. In some cases faces are blurred. Images of women in short dresses are also replaced.
“Out of the pirated Iranian books the Total English pre-intermediate is the most distributed book,” said Steve Redwood, a teacher of English language at CAC (Caucasus Academic Center).
“In pirated books from Iran you can’t see pictures of men and women together, they separate them from each other. As for the women, you can only see the hands or feet of the women, not their faces. Women’s faces are blurred. Iranians don’t care for dogs and always replace photos of them with ones of cats. Not only the photos, but the actual word “dog” is exchanged in the text for those of other animals. If the text mentions the term girlfriend and boyfriend, they replace the terms with the word “friends” which significantly changes the meaning. You can still work with these books though, as they don’t change the grammar,” explained Redwood.
Changing the photos and some words doesn’t mean that these books are useless. The grammar and the programme as a whole is the same. “It’s true that some photos and even topics are changed, but it doesn’t prevent one from learning English with the help of our books as well, which are brought from England,” said the Manager of International House. “Pirated books don’t come with a CD, but I know that pirated CDs are made in Georgia and are sold together with pirated Iranian books in Tbilisi’s bookshops,” the Manager added.
“This (revised) edition published by Longman Group, printed in Spain. All rights reserved” says a special note on BJ Thomas’s book. “No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transported in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Publisher”. But it does not say that the book was revised in Iran.
Iran has a very different system regarding copyright. Basically the publisher just prints what he likes, but he must send a royalty, a percentage set by the law, to the author. No permission is required. This happens because Iran is one of the few countries not to have signed the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention is a convention for the protection of literary and artistic works.
“Each thing which is imported in Georgia must be customized by Georgian law. If a product is imported without the proper procedures, such a product is considered contraband. It must be removed from sale. This is a criminal offence and punishable by law,” declared Giga Kobladze, Director of the Georgian Author’s Society.
To find the suppliers of pirated English language books is almost impossible. In some cases the suppliers are companies and in other cases they are private. The Managers of bookshops say that this information is confidential and that they can’t say the supplier’s names. Laterna bookshop’s manager declared that the suppliers are now in Iran as they attend to the publishing of new books. They are buying books for September as the new academic year is starting soon.