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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

They Do Things Differently in Azerbaijan

MANHATTAN (CN) - Liberty Publishing House, a Russian-language publisher, claims the nephew of a former vice president of Azerbaijan hacked into his uncle's computer and posted his entire, unpublished book on the Internet, and allowed an Azeri newspaper to publish excerpts, with "nasty, slanderous comments." Liberty says that violated copyright and endangered the family of the author, who wished to be anonymous, as his book criticizes the tyrannical rule of Geidar Aliyev.

Liberty, of New York, says it bought the rights to Rasul Guliyev's book, "Destiny of a Dissident," in April 2007. It says the book was still being edited, for spring 2009 release, when it found that Ilgar Guliyev, now of London, had posted the entire thing on his Web site, Azadan.Tripod.com.

Liberty also sued Yeni Musavat Quezeti, "a major Azeri newspaper," and its Web site, Musavat.com, which posted excerpts from the book, with the alleged "slanderous comments."

"Pursuant to the author's agreement between Liberty and the author, the work was to remain pseudonymous, with the author's identity kept secret in order to protect his friends and family in the author's native country of Azerbaijan from persecution by the Azerbaijani government, whose human rights record is appalling," the federal complaint states.

Liberty has published major Russian authors, including Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and U.S. writers in translation - including Tom Clancy George Bush Sr. It says the defendants' alleged theft and publication of the book, with the revelation that it was written by Guliyev, the former vice president and Speaker of the Azeri Parliament, "created quite a furor, especially in Azerbaijan."

Liberty says the newspaper published excerpts from the book in May 2008 under the title, "The Secret Correspondence of Rasul Guliyev," which included "a hostile and sarcastic overview of the opposition Open Society Party (OPS) led by the author, Mr. Rasul Guliyev, and included not just portions of the novel, but portions of contents of his private email correspondence with his brother, Telman Guliyev, residing in Azerbaijan, all supplemented by nasty, slanderous comments."

The complaint continues: "The 'Musavat' article stated that 'the nephew of Mr. Guliyev, Ilgar Guliyev, while in London where he resides, was able to access and download the computer files and email inbox of his uncle Rasul Guliyev in New York.' In other articles on the defendant Musavat's Web site dated June 4, 2008 and June 5, 2008, defendants Ilgar Guliyev boasted: 'We now have full knowledge about their documents and telephone conversations. We have obtained their private email correspondence, hence everything stated by me are based (sic) on the real facts and should not be questioned by anyone.'

"Defendants Ilgar Guliyev, in other words, 'hacked' into the author's computer. At the time defendant Ilgar Guliyev hacked into the author's computer, said computer was located in the Southern District of New York."

That's hardly "fair use," Liberty says. It demands an injunction and treble damages for willful copyright infringement, trespass and privacy invasion. Liberty is represented by Julian Lowenfeld.

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