Publisher who took teacher's material told to pull textbook
Test preparation guide used material meant for instructional purposes
The Tel Aviv District Court recently ordered the Ankori company to stop selling its preparatory book for the history bagrut (matriculation exam ), because it includes material written by Dr. Orna Katz-Atar without her permission.
The court also ordered the publishing company to collect all existing copies of the book from bookstores countrywide by June 2.
As of yesterday, Ankori's website still included a link to buy the book. However, the site insisted it is not possible to buy the book online in practice.
Katz-Atar, a teacher from Hod Hasharon who also works for the Education Ministry, said in her affidavit to the court that last year, she prepared a website that provides history teachers with instructional material on two subjects newly included in the history curriculum: the mass immigration of the 1990s and the role American Jews played in establishing the State of Israel.
Last month, however, Katz-Atar discovered that this material had been replicated in Ankori's preparatory book for the history bagrut almost word for word.
The company, she complained, thus made money off her work without even acknowledging her as the author, much less obtaining her permission or paying her.
Moreover, she said, the material on her site was explicitly intended for teachers only, and not for students. Even after she contacted Ankori, Katz-Atar added, the chain "played for time," and meanwhile continued selling the book, which goes for NIS 70.
On May 25, the parties' attorneys met to discuss the issue, and the next day, Ankori's lawyers informed Katz-Atar's attorneys that they "utterly reject and fundamentally deny" her accusations. "It is clear to any thinking person that as an entity with an enormous reputation, Ankori would not risk harm to this reputation, which it has spent years acquiring," the lawyers wrote.
Nevertheless, in response to her lawsuit, the company proposed a compromise under which it would publish a notice on its website saying her name had inadvertently been left off the history book, send her a letter of apology, and pay her half of what it paid the book's official author, Yaron Abramowitz.
In exchange, Katz-Atar would have to waive any further claims against the company. However, she refused.
Ankori said in response that as soon as it learned that "the book may not meet our publishing standards, we immediately ceased distributing and selling the book and collected the books from the stores ... If the book indeed includes material to which Katz-Atar holds the copyright, we want to apologize for this."
It also said it would review its copyright rules with the teachers who write its books to ensure teachers understand them.