Best Selling Author Sued for Plagarism

A relatively unknown novelist, Michal Tal, has sued Naomi Ragen for copyright infringement. Tal claims that The best-selling The Ghost of Hannah Mendes, published in 1998, is little more than a rip-off of her The Lion and the Cross.

Yesterday, the Jerusalem District Court issued a temporary injunction ordering Regan to stop distributing and selling her book.

The two novels are set against the backdrop of the Inquisition. Coninaldi, lawyer for Tal charged that Regan had copied “the idea, the structural form, the characters, the development of the story line and the book cover form Tal’s original creation”.

Regan’s lawyer, Moser claims that her client had not heard of Tal, nor read the book, prior to her own book publishing and that she had began writing her novel before Tal’s published.

Personally, I have not read either book.  For the court to issue a temporary injunction there should be a good prima facie case against Regan, or at least a strong similarity between the books that indicates plagiarism. The first hearing is scheduled for March 7th, so if the evidence is not convincing, the injunction may be removed.

Ephraim Kishon aside, Naomi Ragen is probably Israel’s best selling author. Like Kishon, her religious and political affiliations have done little to enamour her to Israel’s cultural elite.

I confess that I first read Regan’s blockbusters Sotah and Jepthah’s Daughter only last year.  (It was probably intellectual snobery that caused me to dismiss best selling books aimed at the female readership as some sort of Barbera Cartland / Mills & Boon type trash unworthy of my attention. I couldn’t be more mistaken). I was surprised to discover that her books display all the elements of quality literature, and, perhaps more importantly, raise social questions and challenge accepted views.  Regan has managed to be critical of Ultra Orthodox (Haredi) culture without descending to the type of primitive antisemitism displayed by secular authors in plays such as Fleisher.

Regan sees individuals, including the villains of her stories, as the product of their upbriging and victims of circumstance. It is not unlikely that her books are serving to catalyze societal change, and no author can ask for more than that.

We note that a similar case was brought in the UK last year against Dan Brown, claiming that the International Best Seller, the Da Vinci Codes was a rip-off of an earlier work claiming Jesus’ blood line. 

Categories: Copyright, Israel, Israel Copyright, Israel Court Ruling, Israel IP, Israel Related, News, Opinion

6 replies

  1. You write “For the court to issue a temporary injunction there should be a good prima facie case against Regan, or at least a strong similarity between the books that indicates plagiarism.” Not always true. What also works is a fast talking attorney, a pile of paperwork claiming to support an ex-parti rush rush decision which the judge can’t read because there isn’t time and a not too bright judge.

  2. From the similarity of names “aregan@…” I assume you have a relationship with Naomi?
    -I have no problem with that of course, and have posted your response.

    For the record, I wrote “SHOULD be a prima facie case” and indeed believe that for such a drastic step as an injuction to be taken, that is the requirement.

    A prima facie case implies just that. The judge should have been convinced that there is a case. We note that he has scheduled the hearing for straight after Purim which is very quick and an indication of how serious he takes the issue of such injunctions. You will also note that a second case was filed last week re plagiarism, copyright infringement etc. re glossaries and indexes for the Mishneh Torah and in that case, the judge did not grant an injunction.

    I have not examined either case. I can see a strong similarity between indexes of the same work for the same audience as being coincidental / independent. Where two novels have the similarities claimed by the plaintiff’s attorney, there is a prima facie case. The question is whether the charges will stand up at the hearing. Not having read either book, I cannot express an opinion.

    I’d like to hope that the judge is sufficiently educated to be able to read both books for himself. If he was given the books with allegedly similar passages highlighted, I cannot see why he would need more than 2 days to read both books.

    As a fan of Naomi Ragen’s writing, which I consider to be sensitive, socially significant and readable, I sincerely hope that this case will be settled quickly and does not tarnish her reputation.


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