Chinese book distributor apologizes to Yale

Yale has received a formal apology from a Chinese book distributor that was responsible for a book illegally containing the content of five Open Yale Courses.

Because the licenses of courses broadcast through Open Yale Courses preclude third parties from using their content commercially, the Office of the General Counsel contacted the publisher of the book, Shaanxi Normal University Press to resolve the matter, art history professor and Open Yale Courses director Diana Kleiner said in a Wednesday email to the News.

“Yale recently has received a formal apology from Zitu Books, the distributor that falsely claimed copyright in the infringing book and is apparently responsible for the publication of the book,” Kleiner said. “Yale’s General Counsel’s Office, in concert with outside legal counsel in China, is currently working directly with Zitu to resolve the matter to Yale’s satisfaction.”

She added that many retailers have already removed the book from their offerings.

Kleiner said she first learned of the apparent plagiarism through letters from Chinese students and reporters beginning on May 22. Two days later, an article published in the Chinese newspaper Global Times reported that YYeTs, a nonprofit translating group that created the Chinese subtitles of the five courses, was claiming its translations were plagiarized.

According to the Global Times article, a staff member at Shaanxi Normal University Press had claimed to have received permission from Yale before printing a book with transcripts of the five courses. But in some cases, these transcripts were 95 percent similar to the YYeTs translations. University representatives had not granted permission to publish the book and told this to YYeTs, Kleiner said.

A YYeTs representative declined to comment.

The five courses included in the books were economics Professor Robert Shiller’s “Financial Markets,” history Professor John Merriman’s “European Civilization,” philosophy Professor Shelly Kagan’s “Death,” biology Professor Robert Wyman’s “Global Problems of Population Growth” and psychology Professor Kelly Brownell’s “The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food,” Kleiner said.

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