Amid growing concerns over incidents of plagiarism in the local book industry, publishers have been advised to guard against the malpractice if their products are to be credible and avoid attracting lawsuits.
The advice was made by veteran author and publisher James Ng’ombe in Liwonde, Machinga, on Friday at a training workshop on intellectual property and copyright organised by the Book Publishers Association of Malawi (Bpam).
He said there is an international practice of creating new brands by studying existing ones and improving on them, but that in the book industry this has exacerbated plagiarism.
“Sometimes, whole chapters have been lifted, distorted and given new authorship. It is speculated that those who have been in the forefront doing this are editors and publishers, hence throwing the book industry into disrepute,” said Ng’ombe.
He said much as books published in the past have to be revised to adapt to social changes, there should be distinction between adaptation and plagiarism.
“Adaptation aims at achieving value addition while plagiarism is not only criminal, but also discreditable,” said Ng’ombe.
During the training, Dzuka Publishing Company printing manager Maureen Masamba urged publishers to sign contracts with authors to guard against copyright infringement of books.
Information technology (IT) specialist Tiwonge Kacheche shared with participants copyright for online publishing as stipulated by the World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties.
Bpam president Alfred Msadala said in an interview they organised the training “so that local publishers catch up with new developments in the world of intellectual property as well as make them aware of the fundamental issues that will enable the growth of the book publishing industry.” n