Sarah Shapiro v. Naomi Ragen – From the Verdict

The judge determined that the plagiarism legally constitutes “a lingering offense” due to the novel Sotah‘s numerous editions since its initial publication in 1992, and due to its recent republication and ongoing sale in a new edition by St. Martins Press. Thus the Statute of Limitations was found not to apply.

He granted full credibility to an expert report prepared by Professor William Kolbrener of Bar Ilan University, which documents the multiple instances in which Naomi Ragen copied from Shapiro’s work, coupled with a mathematical analysis by statistician Art Levitt, demonstrating that it was virtually impossible for the multiple similarities of wording and instances of identical wording (many of which appear in the same order as in Shapiro’s autobiographical account) to have been a coincidental and random event, as the defense claimed.

Quotes from the Verdict:

All these show that the copying was done with full intent…

Ragen did not prove that Shapiro’s book was not in front of her… rather she admitted both directly and indirectly that Shapiro’s work was in front of her.

Shapiro claims that this caused her much pain and that she is still hurt not only by her work being plagiarized but also by the fact that her feelings and life experiences were snatched away from her, distorted and used for ideas she never intented. indeed this constitutes an infringement of her rights and defamation of name… besides the moral infringement of distorting her ideas of spiritual nature into a non religious message used for monetary profit.

We’ll upload the full verdict shortly.

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6 Responses

  1. Tal Benschar says:

    As a copyright lawyer, I am very curious about the verdict. As we tell our clients in the U.S., copyright infringement is not the same thing as plagiarism. Is there a separate cause of action for plagiarism in Israel? And what does “defamation of her name” mean — did someone think that Sarah Shapiro was the authoress or a character in Ragen’s book? What does “moral infringement of distorting her ideas of spiritual nature into a non religious message used for monetary profit” mean? Are moral rights different than a copyright? (There is such a thing as moral rights in some European systems, maybe borrowed by the Israeli system.)

  2. David F. says:

    Is this a civil suit? Are there monetary damages awarded in such a situation or jail time? Is it Ragen who is being sued or the publishing house?

  3. Moshe says:

    I’m curious as to what a private lawsuit between two people has to do with the cross-currents blog? What does it have to do with Judaism – that the name of the book is Sotah? That Naomi Ragen does not quite come across as a Haredi-lover?

  4. Dovid says:

    I believe some explanation is needed for why this case is of interest or should be of interest to CC readers, who visit this site to read thoughtful analyses of important issues confronting contemporary Orthodox Jewry. I assume I’m missing something, but this sounds to me like nothing more than vindictive שמחה לאיד over the embarrassment of a charedi-basher. What difference does it make if some scenes of Sotah were plagarized? Do we have to resort to this verdict to dismiss her accusations about charedim? I just don’t see the point.

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    Please reread the About Us section, and also the excerpts from Prof. Kolbrenner’s report. Ragen has consistently portrayed herself as simply a critic of “the Haredi community’s treatment of women.” We have, on the other hand, pointed out that her work presents a deliberately twisted portrait intended to malign and destroy rather than provide constructive criticism.

    It is not merely the fact of the plagiarism, but what she did with the passages in question, that is extremely relevant to us, as it proves which narrative is and has always been correct. The very same material “in Sotah is used to cast aspersion on the very society which Shapiro’s work so values.” Furthermore, note that the JPost’s coverage leads with Ragen claiming that “there is a campaign being waged to silence her,” with nary a quote from Shapiro not found in the court transcripts. The raison d’etre of Cross-Currents is to provide the Orthodox community with the opportunity to tell our side of the story, which the media so studiously ignored.

  6. Shanks says:

    Despite Rabbi Menken accusing me of being an anti-Orthodox bigot in his last post, honor compels me to note that he’s right here. This all seems like fair game to me. She has portrayed herself as a critic, but twisted words in order to attack Shapiro.

    But maybe I just hate Naomi Ragen because she’s frum 😛

    [Now that’s not quite what I said, but thanks anyways. — YM]

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