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Copyrights and CopyCrimes – Alemayehu G. Mariam

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Crimes Against the Mind

If a person were to maliciously burn or vandalize another’s house, it would be regarded as a serious property crime under the laws of any nation. If one were to walk into a bookstore and steal thousands of books and give them away to any passerby, that would also be a major property crime. How about taking a copyrighted book, scanning it and making it available to anyone in digital form online? Is that a serious criminal act? Is it also an immoral and depraved act? Is it fair?

When a publisher, author or artist produces a book, a piece of music, a painting or other similar work, s/he is creating intellectual property which is as valuable as any other kind of property recognized by law. Just as doctors, lawyers, engineers and others make a living by practicing their professions, those in the literary, artistic and publishing communities make their living from marketing their intellectual creations. But the total disrespect and contempt shown by some individuals to the intellectual property rights of Ethiopian musicians, artists and authors is downright sickening and maddening.

Today, the music of the legendary Ethiopian artists, including Tilahun Gessesse, Mahmoud Ahmed, Bizunesh Bekele, Alemayehu Eshete, Kiros Alemayehu, Kassa Tessema, Ketema Makonnen, Asnaketch Worku, Mary Armede, Hirut Bekele, Ali Birra, Aster Aweke, Kuku Sebsebie, Muluken Melesse, Teodros “Teddy Afro” Kassahun, Shambel Belayneh and so many others, are illegally and casually stored online and made freely available. The artists receive no payments and their work is distributed without their permission and often to the financial benefit (selling ads on websites, subscriptions, etc.) of the music pirates. The individuals who store the music illegally and those who download them illegally work together to not only impoverish these great artists but also destroy their creative potential and ability to enrich the culture.

Crimes Against the Press

This contemptible culture of online piracy passed another shameful milestone recently when an entire book was scanned and posted on the internet in clear violation of international and national copyright laws. The book in question was the recently published memoir of former Ethiopian junta leader Mengistu Hailemariam. The website that scanned and posted the book online justified its action as follows:

Mass murderer and brutal dictator Mengsitu Haile Mariam (exiled in Harare, Zimbabwe) has written a 500+ pages book that has been published by Tsehai Publisher of Los Angeles. This mass murderer has not yet atoned or paid for his horrendous crimes and the mass killings of the Red Terror. He now hopes to benefit from the sale of his book of lies. We strongly feel that this criminal should be tried before a court of law and should be hindered from benefitting from his crime. Thus, we have published the book in PDF and we are posting it for free usage of all interested readers.

The website operators defended their illegal copying and posting by claiming that they had a right to do so under American law:

Our action is protected by Son of Sam Law in the USA which prohibits criminals from profiting from their crimes by selling their stories to publishers. Accessories to such actions are also included in the prohibition and in certain cases the law can be extended beyond the criminal to include friends, neighbors and family members of the lawbreaker. Denying the holocaust is a crime in many countries and Mengistu denies firmly the Red Terror and the mass murders. Concerned Ethiopians are studying the possibility of a law suit against Mengistu and his LA based publisher who may also be a target of boycott by all Ethiopians. Assisting and helping mass murderers to profit from their crimes by publishing their book of lies is a crime by itself.

The illegal posting is allegedly motivated by the desire to prevent Mengistu from getting a “benefit from the sale of his

Mengistu Haile Mariam's New Book

Mengistu Haile Mariam's new book (Tiglachen) cover

book”, despite the fact that posting the digital copy of the book will give wider dissemination of what they described as a “book of lies”. Ironically, by posting the book online for all to read, the copyright infringers more likely gave great credibility to Mengistu’s claims about them than actually discrediting him. But the real target of the vengeance is the publisher, Tsehai Publishers, and not Mengistu. The copyright violators’ twisted message is simple: If they do not like the message of an author, they will retaliate by scanning and posting the author’s book online and bankrupt the publisher.

One can disagree deeply with Mengistu and the facts or lies contained in his memoir. Having read the book, I am critical of the accuracy and selective recollection of many of his “facts”; and disagree with his attempt to avoid personal and regime accountability for his gross violations of human rights. But that is the way of all dictators. They always try to tell their stories in heroic terms and attempt to justify their crimes as patriotic acts. Although I disagree with Mengistu on numerous “facts” and unreservedly condemn his human rights record, I will be the first one to stand up and defend his right to write a book and publish it, even if it is all lies. To be sure, I defend Mengistu’s right to express himself just as vigorously as I defended the free speech rights of his successor Meles Zenawi when he spoke at Columbia University in September 2010. Why shouldn’t these two dictators be allowed to express themselves? Who is afraid of their “facts”, “lies”, ideas or opinions? Don’t the people have the right to hear these dictators and make their own judgment?

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” “Everyone” includes dictators and human rights violators. It is the moral duty of those of us who are committed to freedom, democracy and human rights to expose the lies, fabrications and brutality of dictators at every opportunity. By suppressing the views of the dictators, we not only undermine our own moral legitimacy against their lies but also prove to the world that we are indeed their clones. “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Those who posted Mengistu’s book online are absolutely wrong on the law. The so-called “Son of Sam Law” they tout as authority for posting the book online was adopted in the State of New York in 1983 to prevent convicted criminals from selling their stories to publishers and profiting from the notoriety of their crimes. That law was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. New York adopted a narrowly tailored law in 2001 requiring, among other things, victim notification whenever a person convicted of a crime receives a certain amount of money. A similar law in California was struck down by that state’s highest court in 2002. Under federal law (18 U.S.C. § 3681 (2000) [Special Forfeiture of Collateral Profits of Crime]), the U.S. attorney may seek a federal court order authorizing “forfeiture of all or any part of proceeds from a contract relating to a depiction of such crime in a movie, book, newspaper, magazine, radio or television production…” There is no law in the United States that gives private parties the right to become “Special Prosecutors” to catch “mass murderers” who “profit from their crimes by publishing their book of lies” online, or violate the copyright of publishers in the name of preventing “mass murderers” from profiting. As a matter of law, no state or federal court has personal jurisdiction over Mengistu to deprive him of any “profits” he may get from the sale of the book. Even if such jurisdiction could be had, Mengistu would still be entitled to full due process of law before any court orders denial of proceeds from the sale of his book. Yes, dictators are also entitled to full due process before there are deprived of life, liberty and property.

Crimes Against Copyright Laws

The illegal posting of Mengistu’s memoir is not about lies, truths or criminals profiting from their crimes. It is about criminal infringement of copyrights. Since 1886, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works “Berne Convention”, see Art. 2) has been in place to protect literary and artistic works. Under 17 U.S.C. §506 (a )(1 )(B), “Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed… (B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180–day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000.”

The whole idea in copyright law is to give the creator of an original work exclusive intellectual property rights for a specified amount of time, which in the U.S. is the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. During this period, the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work. Under the “fair use” rule, others may make limited use of the material for critical reviews of a work or for news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Crimes Against Culture

I suspect there may be some who are not familiar with Tsehai Publishers and the young man who has toiled so hard for so

Elias Wondimu, Tsehai Publishers

Elias Wondimu, Tsehai Publishers

many years to create a publishing outlet to Ethiopian, African and other academics dedicated to scholarship on Ethiopia and the continent in general. Elias Wondimu started Tsehai Publishers in 1998. His aim was to create an institution that will “provide a venue for writers whose works may otherwise go unpublished.” Through these efforts, Elias hopes to achieve our goals of fostering intercultural dialogue and social justice.

Elias has an extraordinary and unrivalled record in seeking to enhance Ethiopian culture. He came to the U.S. in September 1994 to participate in the 12th International Ethiopian Studies Conference held at Michigan State University. Shortly thereafter, he began service as an editor for Ethiopian Review magazine, which appeared in print form until 2000. After closing out the print version of the magazine, he dedicated his time towards the establishing Tsehai Publishers, which is named in memory of his mother who died in Ethiopia in 1997. Over the past decade, Tsehai publishers, now based at Loyola Marymount University, has made available nearly 60 scholarly and literary works on a variety of topics, the vast majority of them concerned with Ethiopian and African affairs. The publications cover the entire political cross-section without partisanship and censorship.

Among the dozens of original scholarship and reprints of some classic works on Ethiopian and African history, politics, anthropology, sociology, economics, religion and culture include: Tradition & Change in Ethiopia (2010), Feudalism and Modernization in Ethiopia (2006), Wit and Wisdom of Ethiopia (1999), Enough with Famines in Ethiopia (2006), The Survival of Ethiopian Independence (2004), A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (2010), A History of the Beta Israel (Falasha) (2010), Protestant & Catholic Missions in Orthodox Ethiopia (2007), Life and Culture in the Townships of Cape Town (2007), AIDS Orphans and their Grandparents (2006), Wax and Gold (2005), Civil Wars and Revolution in the Sudan (2005), Ethiopia in Wartime (2004). A complete list is available here.

In 2004, Tsehai Publishers established The International Journal of Ethiopian Studies (IJES), currently available on JSTOR, the international online system for archiving academic journals. A number of Ethiopian academics and scholars including myself and professors Maimire Mennasemay, Worku Negash and Alula Pankhurst have served as senior editors. IJES is an interdisciplinary, refereed journal which is published twice a year and dedicated to scholarly research relevant to or informed by the Ethiopian experience. IJES publishes articles in English and Amharic. The Journal’s mission statement explains that

IJES will, for the first time, provide Ethiopian scholars with an Ethiopian venue for reflecting seriously on Ethiopian issues from a scholarly perspective… One of the deepest obstacles to African (including Ethiopian) progress towards democracy and economic prosperity is the peculiar situation of Africans being reduced to an object of knowledge by contemporary social science. The absence of Africans, including Ethiopians, as self-examining, self-evaluating, self-defining, and self-propelling subjects of history [has resulted in our] total dependence on external (European and American) definitions, interpretations, explanations, evaluations of who we are and what our problems and their solutions are.”

Tsehai Publishers has also organized a number of number of national conferences covering a wide range of issues and topics and sponsored a film festival for young filmmakers. The list of Elias’ contributions to the intellectual life of the Ethiopian, African and international communities is significant and much appreciated.

Those of us who take great pride in what Elias has accomplished could be faulted for speaking very highly of him. Perhaps others who have looked at his efforts could offer a more objective assessment. Prof. Wendy Belcher of Princeton University writes:

Elias is doing something unusual and important. There are very few publishers from the African continent, and, in the U.S., there are [only] a handful which are run by Africans and are publishing African texts. For an Ethiopian to have a press is more appropriate than almost any other nationality. They’ve had a written language going back 3,000 years and have long been in the business of printing and preserving the written word. He’s in a long, honorable line.”

Such is the contribution of Elias and Tsehai Publishers to the preservation, conservation and glorification of Ethiopian and African history and culture. Those who illegally copied and posted the book are not attacking the author of the book, but Elias and Tsehai Publishers. Their crimes are against the very essence of Ethiopian and African culture and those scholars and authors who spend years researching their works. All Ethiopians and Africans are victims of this cowardly crime.

It is important to know that Elias has brought great honor and pride to all Ethiopians. In 2007, he was named Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation and the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace to help establish lines of dialogue between African scholars, poets, historians, academics, aesthetes, journalists and scholars. In 2008, he was profiled in the inaugural edition of Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles along with such distinguished individuals as Steve Wonder, Tavis Smiley, Kobe Bryant, Isaiah Washington and Dr. Maulana Karenga. He was also profiled in a special edition of the LA Weekly as one the leading independent presses in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed on the Voice of America, National Public Radio, Deutsche Welle Radio, SBS Australia and other media on various cultural topics.

Let’s Right a CopyWrong: A Special Plea to All Ethiopians and Others Who Value a Free Press

This past week, the U.S. Congress considered two laws aimed at the type of copyright crime committed against Tsehai Publishers. The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (“PIPA”) would have allowed the U.S. Attorney General to require domain name registries to “suspend operation of, and lock, the domain name” of a website “dedicated to infringing activity.” The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would have expanded the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property. While lawmakers wrestle with the issues, we can all do our part to support, protect and preserve a unique and irreplaceable institution in the Ethiopian/African Diaspora. Above all, we should defend the right to press freedom and free speech against not only dictators who shutter newspapers and close down publishing houses but also those who use copyright blackmail and the threat of financial bankruptcy against publishers.

Let us do the right thing!

Those who have downloaded the book in digital or print form aware or unaware of the criminality of the act should delete it permanently from your computers and discard the printed version.

Those who have read the book online should have the courage of their convictions to contact Tsehai Publishers pay what is justly due at the link here.

Most importantly, we all need to show moral outrage by speaking out against such copyright criminality and moral courage by doing our part to support Tsehai Publishers for it is a treasure we cannot afford to lose.

Let us make our donations in any amount we can by pressing on this link.

On a personal note, I ask those who have followed my weekly commentaries and essays over the past six years to help me help Tsehai Publishers. I believe in Tsehai Publishers and fully support the efforts of Elias Wondimu and his associates who have toiled for years to make a gift of light (Tsehai) to all of us. It is a simple choice we face: We can do nothing and let darkness overwhelm our history, culture and future. Or we can do something and keep the sun shining brightly on Ethiopia, Africa and beyond!

Would you please help me help Tsehai Publishers? Please donate by pressing here. Any amount will do. THANKS….

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

17 Responses to Copyrights and CopyCrimes – Alemayehu G. Mariam

  1. T. Goshu

    January 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Well, as a highly -qualified lawyer professionally, and a very concerned person who often comes forward with his fantastic and timely analyses about the bloody politics going on in our country , professor A. G/Mariam’s article on this issue deserves due respect and appreciation. I therefore want to say that his views should be challenged and dealt with a real sense of civility, maturity, controlled- emotion , and above all with appropiate respect. With this general comment of mine, I want to express my opinion as follows;

    = The very topic of the article, “Crime Against Mind ” sounds extremely stretched and misleading as far as the issue ( if we take it as an issue) is about the book of an evil- minded person who has no a slight sense of human regret for his absolutely inhuman behavior and action for 17 years, and is still considered as one of the most brutal political criminals . Professor A,Mariam is trying to argue purely from the point of internationally known legal aspect by singling out multiple articles of “… Intellectual Property Rights ” with out at least giving deep and sincere points of reflection on the horrible experiences of the innocent people of Ethiopia who lost one generation in the hands of a brutal regime of colonel Mengistu. To my understanding, it would have been fair and sensible if the professor had taken the trrrible memories of the Ethiopian people into deep consideration in his introdutory remarks instead of just jumping to lecturing about legal terms , condemning the” crime act” ; and unfortunately enough, defending a person who killed a generation and put the country’s survial at a very dangerous risk. I do not believe that it is enough to say a couple of sentences or just a kind of passing remak about the monsterous and still criminal political figure in a fairly lengthy article. What I mean is that the an incredible pain of the innocent people of Ethioia deserves strong emphasis and be reflected deeply and appropriately when we discuss about subjects like this one.

    = When we mix the property rights of atrs, music, envention and etc. which are mentioned as examples in the article with that of the” the intellectual property right of a brutal dictator “, we definately encounter a serious problem at least morally and politically. I do not know how it makes strong sense to use analyis of comparison for things that are absolutely incomparable. The analogies used in the introductory paragraphs are unnecessarily stretched when we try to fit” Mengidtu and the act of crime against” his brain child ( the book) ” in the general picture that is outlined by professor A/Mariam.

    =Well, the well-respected lawyers such as professor A.Mariam may argue that taking a legal action in the interest of the publisher and even in defending the the former mastermind of the killing machine is the right thing to do. And it may or may not be as easy as it seems. Any way , that is up to the parties directly involved . But, one thing remains very clear; and that is the Ethiopian people who suffered the untold sufferings under the cruel regime of Mengistu and still suffering under the Meles’ regime partly because of all kinds the crimes committed by Mengistu and his cronies cannot afford watching Mengistu’s collection of outrageous lie ( “his book ” ) being defended by respected professionals like professor A.Mariam. And that will have a very damaging consequence for the dignified personality of professor A.Mariam.

    = I do not know how it is immoral to do any thing possible and trash aside the” brain child” of a brutal dictator. I do not know how it is immoral to stand against a horrible tyrannt when he comes up with a junck of propaganda which is used to justify the action of his killing macine. What about the priceless lives of innocent Ethiopians??

    = Is it really immoral to do every thing possible to trash aside the story of a terrible dictator who forced the parents to pay for the bulets which gunned down their childern ? Is it really immoral to do some thing about his collection of white lie (book) and prevent him from making fat money by selling his terrible stories writen by his hands full of the blood of innocent peaple?? The arguementative questions can go on and on and on.

    = With regard to the publisher, it is true that what happened to him is completely disapponting. And I think nobody with his right mind says he must be victimized because of his contractual agreement with one of the most terrible political figure in our political history. I hope this uninitended consequence will help him a lot to learn more in his career . I must say here that even if there wouldn’t be any more scanning of the next volumes of lies , no body will encouraged the Ethiopian people to spend their hard-won money on the colection of junk propaganda at all. Yes, it is true that we need to buy a few number of his “books’ and go through those piles of hypocritical stories so that our historians and political analysts use them to teach this young generation and the generation to come how ruthless dictators try to defend their horrible actions and personalities with any sense of regret and apology. No more ;No less!!!!

    = I do not know how and why it is desirable to make a very hastey and ridiculous conclusion on the question of the very reason why somebody (eprp) did that kind of act . Is it not quite contradictory with your profession to come a conclusions that the target of the doer of that “act of crime” is the publisher, not Mengistu? Have you had any concret evidence to give such kind of tetimony professor?

    Dear Professor, with all due respect , I want to say that the way you engaged yourself in this highly controversial and deeply emotional case in the name of defending “intellectual property rights” is seriously damaging to your personality and knowledgability.

    Dear publisher, there is no doubt that you have done and you are doing a very adimrable job, and you sincerely deserve to be encouraged ,not to be discouraged. However, when it comes to the deal you made with colonel Mengistu, it makes a lot of sense to say that you were supposed to undertake a serious and deep situational study and critical decision before before you go to the actual work . You may argue that his (Mengistu’s) works are informative and the judgement should be left to the readers as well as the people at large. That might be true in principle. But as long as the horrible crime committed by the colonel and his cronies is still a fresh memory, and sadly enough the colonel has no any sense of truth and regret , your arguement and assumption was terribly wrong. The question is now how to move forward with your long time credibilty? The answer must be left to you.

    I want to hope the very dust we are watching will settle down and things will go for the better!!

    Have a great time youall!!!

  2. Mengesha

    January 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Preosessor Alemayehu
    I always read your article, You are one of the greatest articulater, sense of human,always aleret and desreve to respected ever.The people against this article I think they are still ignorant of It is the law above evry one .

    Yea I was littel boy in the priod of Colenale Mengestu however I prefer Mengestu 100% ratherthan Woyane and Meles the one killing both the people and the country.

    At list Mengestu saved his country as hwoll that means I do not mean no people was got killed offcoures many people dead because him including my own three uncles in my mother side, However It was happend and still happning as part of the our world as we can see even today.This is the part of our worled historical event, for example in South Africa aprtied killed many netive south Africans by the order o fH.W.Declark but after the freedom of South Africa Declark was able to work along side with Mr Mandela be came vise presedant the country. It showed us how Mandela was great leader His forgiveness was smart and he made semart negotation with the one used to kill his own people for peace of his people and his country. we need to be smart look the future ratherthan talking and wasting time about the past bad event

    Now some ignorants are instade of united and work to gether common valu to remove Woyane from the sholder Ethiopia the one killing both the people and country but still we are talking about the past and pointing finger out at Mengestu. look how silly we are.

    Pro. Alemayehu, In support of your article as usual Mengestu has the right to speak and write,as aleader he is/was the part of the Ethiopian history wither the history was good or bad. who is innocent and pointing at him? Mengestu is the one who pushed forward the people Ethiopia to learn,educated and to be civilised. He is the one respected our forfathers Land and passed the love of the country for this new genreration of Ethiopia the one who love Ethiopia now . “Yabatochchin Adera Anasdefem” this was one of his slogan. Yea he said that and he tried unfortunatly he was not sucessful as he was exepcted, for that mater he is not the only preson to be blamed for all problem but also the other too including H.M Hileselasie.as every one has bad and good side, weakness and streagth.

    The pablisher has right to do his job, good relashinshp with any of his coustomer and protected by the law from harasment and abused of his job,He is paying tax the job what his doing.

    Thank you

  3. anon

    January 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Most Ethiopians ,as in the commenators as in the above and the writer of this piece ,prove our selves by the daywea re couch potatos.What is all this big deal.What if this done by an individual.Why are we condemening EPRP.Some went great leagth to say EPRP killed hundreds of thousends of Ethiopians .Where is the evidencE Aseged?I am sure you can not come up with the right answer about this. Then i call you a cyber space BIG MOUTH LIER.I am not interested doing this but I want to discourage you from further lie.by all means we need to tell the truth.EPRP made self defence because some prevailing conditions of that time.The FIdists led by Haile FIda which has been the part of the student movement switch sides and began working withDerg.If this was not bad enogh ,they gave list of EPRPmembers,pointed its safe houses and EPRP was on the verge of disarry.Yes,at this point EPRP responded with high profile killings.It killed Dr Fikre Merid,the labor chief Teodros Bekele and Mengistu jhimself escaped narrowly etc.But indiscriminate killings has never been the policy of EPRP. Beside addisu Legese Bereket Simon dont represent the millions of EPRP members.Have a ballanced prespective.Grazini Mengistu is match less in his atrocities.And if an individual decided to post his book so what.The reaction of every one does not reflect to the damge done.Where have you been when Grazini Mengstu closed the street of Addis for weeks and orderd every one be killed?How do you react to his deeds?You might say I was not born then.I understand that but this fact is part of our history.I am not sypathetic with Grazini,long ago he could have been standing on trial for his crime.

  4. Mnau

    January 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    When I see the reckless acts of the crazed EPRP and its disgraced leaders, it becomes crystal clear why the party and its leadership will remain a footnote in the annals of Ethiopian History. Just imagine what these crazed goons would have done had they assumed power in Ethiopia. In my mind, making illegal copies of a copy righted book, regardless of its content or author, and posting it on a web page (debteraw) is no different than the book burning carried out during Nazi Germany. The difference between then and now is EPRP is engaged in modern day cyber book burning.

    Elias is a dedicated publisher who has managed to survive against all odds and he will continue to survive. I for one will do all I can to help Elias remain and thrive in the publishing world.

    Good job Al. Keep on shining your light on the roaches brother. You know what happens to roaches when you turn on the light. They scramble for cover.

  5. sekokaw beza

    January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    አይ እነበቃ ምን አለበት በትክክል ማብቃት ወደአለበት ነገር ፊታችንን ብናዞር። እኛ ስለመንግሥቱ መጽሃፍ ጥብቅና ስንቆም በሚልየን የሚቆጠር ሕዝባችን በሌላ አምባገነን እየተራበ፣ እየሞተና እይታሰረ ነው። እኛ እኮ ስለመለስና ሰለ መንግሱ ስለኮፒ ራይት የምናወራበት ጊዜ አይደለም። ለነገሩማ እነእንደልቡዎች አይደለን በቀን ስምንት ጊዜ እየበላን አንድ ጊዜ መብላት ለተሳነው ሕዝባችን ከማውራት ስለ ኮፒ ራይት ማውራት……… አረ በቃ! በቃ! አረ በቃ!

  6. Ahmu

    January 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Al Mariam,
    I used to read your articles with some interest. But, this one is crazy.
    How is it that you put great Ethiopian artists on the same page with crimnal Mengistu?

    How is that you talk about copry right crimes in the same page with a muderer who did not even show mercy to his own friends? The man used everyone for his ‘glory’, and in this book he even used his own family to promote his crimnality.

    Sure the publisher may have done good stuff before, and hope he does same in the future. But, does that mean the victims of Mengistu have to shut up unless they agree to some legal understanding of all-knowing Al Mariam.

    I am all for copy rights and all that. But, the way you write, this bitterness in you, that you put so clearly all to see leads to a question. What is it about Mengistu, man?

  7. Truth

    January 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I concur!!!!! Thank God someone has sense.

  8. Truth

    January 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

    YOu are NOT making sense at all, incase you posted this by mistake please take it off. sometimes we do honest mistake and this is a good one.

  9. publisherright

    January 23, 2012 at 11:41 am

    To Intonei
    1. Like you, I condemn killings of innocent Ethiopians in 70s. And I will like those responsible for atrocities committed then to be brought to justice.
    2. But Intonei you have to believe that Ethiopian people are the judges and juries not individuals or the mentioned website. so people have the right to read what Mengistu says and make their own judgements. if they believe contents the book were full of lies then let us read their version.
    3. Intoneir please speak against those who attack individuals physically rather than their ideas.
    4. Ethiopians have also to act legally if we call ourselves civilized.

    Thank you professor for standing for free speech.

  10. Asegid

    January 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

    The legacy of EPRP is no different from Colonel Mengistu. EPRP is equally responsible for the killings of hundreds and thousands of Ethiopians that includes students, teachers and elites. The likes of Eyasu Alemayehu of EPRP are responsible for what the country finds itself in – the TPLF/Woyane tyranny. The likes of Bereket Simon & Addisu Legesse are currently organizing former EPRP cadres to help the continuation of the Woyane dictatorial rule over Ethiopia. The leaders of EPRP were and continue to be obssesed with power by any means – including outlaw actions such as the unlawful acts of Copyright!

  11. Asegid

    January 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

    It is a continuation and latest manifestation of EPRP’s destructive, arbitrary, anarchist, adventurist and despicable role for anything Ethiopian. It is also a tribute to EPRP’s leadership and lumpen killer squad who are equally responsible as Colonel Mengistu for the crime against Ethiopians and primarily for the killings of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians youth and elites on the streets of urban centers in Ethiopia.

    It is about time that the EPRP leadership account for the crimes they also commited and the continuation of their criminal behaviour. Needless to say they have continued in the divisive politics of the opposition to the Woyane rule. It should also be noted that most former EPRP cadres are currently colluding with TPLF/Woyane in the looting of the wealth and resources of Ethiopia. So we should help Elias Wondimu and Tsehai Publisher to file complaint in the courts against the EPRP leaderships for this unlawful act.

  12. Tigist

    January 23, 2012 at 8:38 am

    EPRP is no better than Mengistu himself. What a decision to steal and yet post it on line. . Are you the ones who were opting to lead my Country. Over my death bed.

    Shame on you

    I am shameful as well

    What a mess

  13. Intonei

    January 23, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Professor Al-Mariam and many others re Mengistu’s book
    1. As you said Mengistu is of the type called ‘crimes against humanity’
    2. Eventhough he is not convicted that deosn’t mean he is innocent
    3. The last thing a publisher do is deal with someone like Mengistu
    4. No amount of legal/social/plotical philosophising is not going to make millions believe Mengistu has the same rights as any one of us
    5. It is an insult to the the tens of thousand who perished and us survivors friends/parents/brothers/sisters etc. to do any comaprison of Mengistu’s book with others
    6. It is easy for some, as we can see now, to let Mengistu be treated as another author before he answers for the crime he comitted.
    7. The best I and many do about Mengistu is ignore him – not listen, read him. If he wants to be heard and read first let him give himself up to any authority he likes and defend himself. Not releasing books full of lies which kill thoses victims who struggled agaisnt him a second time.
    8. In his long dictatorial years he didn’t give his victims so much chance at to carry a leaflet gainst his rule – which was once too many times punsihed by torture and death. He printing a book? After he did all that? you must be out of your minds!

  14. kebede

    January 23, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Really ,it is great crime to steal publishers right and property. The author must start charge against those who initiated the motives to scann and distribute the book, websites that posted the pdf copy on there websites,like Ethioforum.com. This illegal act was not targeted to Mengistu, but innocent Tsehay publisher.
    Lets all help Tsehay publisher.

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