I was told by several lawyers that this letter might possibly be a violation of Israeli law, specifically סעיף 428 חוק העונשין, which reads as follows:
סחיטה באיומים – תיקון: תש”ם
המאיים על אדם בכתב, בעל פה או בהתנהגות, בפגיעה שלא כדין בגופו או בגוף אדם אחר, בחירותם, ברכושם, בפרנסתם, בשמם הטוב או בצנעת הפרט שלהם, או מאיים על אדם לפרסם או להימנע מפרסם דבר הנוגע לו או לאדם אחר, או מטיל אימה על אדם בדרך אחרת, הכל כדי להניע את האדם לעשות מעשה או להימנע ממעשה שהוא רשאי לעשותו, דינו – מאסר שבע שנים; נעשו המעשה או המחדל מפני איום או הטלת אימה כאמור או במהלכם, דינו – מאסר תשע שנים
“ROUGH” TRANSLATION: Whoever threatens a person in writing, orally or by his behavior, with illegally harming that person’s body, that of another person, or his freedom, property, livelihood, good name or privacy, or threatens to publicize or to refrain from publicizing information regarding that person or another person, or terrifies him in any way, in order to make him do something or refrain from doing something which he is entitled to do; the punishment is seven years imprisonment. If the the threat made under these conditions was carried out, the punishment is seven years imprisonment.
Other lawyers have told me that even if the letter does not violate the law, it may be a violation of the Israel Bar Association’s Code of Ethics.
Since I am not a lawyer, I cannot express an opinion on these questions. But when I filed a complaint with the Israel Bar Association, this is what happened. So I didn’t bother filing a complaint about this and this.
(emphasis in the original)
To: Mrs. Naomi Ragen
Personal: Secret: via messenger
RE: Copyright Violation of the rights of Ms. Michal Tal
Approach before beginning legal action and filing of lawsuit
In the name of my client, Ms. Michal Tal, I urgently approach you in the following matter:
- At the beginning of this letter I want to emphasize that that this letter was not sent lightly by the undersigned. My law office specializes in copyright and intellectual property law and has carried out a detailed and very comprehensive review of the material. Only after a thorough opinion was obtained and only after our law firm was completely convinced, we undertook to deal with this case.
- My client is the author of a single novel “The Lion and the Cross” which was published in London in 1995 by Minerva Press (henceforth to be referred to as “my client’s work”).
- My client owns all the rights in this literary work in accordance with the relevant laws of 1911 and 1924, which include physical ownership and moral ownership (droit moral) in the work. As a result, my client owns all the rights, including copying, use of, marketing, sales, adaption and all economic and other rights in the work, of every possible kind.
- The plot of my client’s work concerns the dreams of a contemporary woman, Sarah Shiraz, regarding the ancestors of her husband during the Inquisition, and who embarks on a search inspired by an old family diary.
- My client has learned that in 1998 you published a book “The Ghost of Hannah Mendes” (publisher Simon and Shuster) which was later republished by St. Martin’s Press. Your book was well received and became an international best seller, and was also translated into Hebrew as “בידך אפקיד רוחי”.
Unexplained similarities between the works:
- After careful examination of the two works, many similarities came to light, for example:
- Similarity in the time and place of the plot
- Similarity in the literary techniques and the structure
- Similar names of some of the characters
- Similar descriptions of the characters
- Similar language used to describe objects and events
- Similarity in the covers of the works
- Similarities in the family trees presented in the works
- The similarities between the works are so obvious and substantial that the only reasonable explanation is that your work is a cleverly disguised copy of my client’s work and infringes her copyright as well as violating many other laws.
- It goes without saying that this conclusion takes into account the notion of similar sources such as historical events, and we have even attempted to “err on the safe side.”
We are offering you an opportunity to repent and end the incident outside the court
- At this point, and we are generous beyond the requirements of the law in light of our concept of Jewish mercy, my client offers you the opportunity to repent and quickly take the following actions:
- Send my client a letter of apology.
- Pay my client, in light of the copyright violation and the profits you have made from this which have illegally enriched you, a more than appropriate sum of money, which reimburses her for the profits you have earned from her work.
- A commitment to end the matter, with my client promising to maintain secrecy and reveal nothing.
Your window of opportunity is short
- You have five days of grace (from the receipt of this letter until Monday 19 March 2007) to take the above actions. If you do not comply with these demands, my client will take the following actions:
- My client will apply to the courts for injunctions against you and the three publishers who market and sell your books to remove the books from the bookstores (Steimatsky and others stores).
- My client will sue you for millions of shekels (the sum has not yet been fixed).
- My client will publicize your copyright violations on a special internet site and also issue a press release to all the media in Israel and especially outside Israel in order to give your readers an opportunity to judge for themselves the act of plagiarism you committed.
- Additional actions to restore what you have stolen from my client.
Your fate is in your hands
- Your good name and the future of your works hang in the balance.
- Our sages have taught: “The result of an action starts with a thought.” A word to the wise should be sufficient.