Jerusalem Court Finds Author Naomi Ragen Guilty of Plagiarism

Court rules that Ragen knowingly copied from writer Sarah Shapiro's work in her novel Sotah.

After four years of adjudication, the Jerusalem District Court Sunday upheld the writer Sarah Shapiro's plagiarism claim against best-selling writer Naomi Ragen. The court ruled that Ragen knowingly copied from Shapiro's work in her novel Sotah.

Shapiro submitted her claim against Ragen in 2007. Both writers come from America's Orthodox Jewish community; Shapiro lives in Jerusalem and writes in English. In 1990, Shapiro sought Ragen's opinion about her debut novel. The two met; subsequently, Shapiro claims she was surprised to find selections from her book Growing with My Children in Ragen's Sotah.

ragen - Daniel Bar-On - December 12 2011
Daniel Bar-On

In a 92-page opinion, Judge Joseph Shapira fully upheld Shapiro's claim against Ragen. The court opined that the plagiarism was "tantamount to a premeditated act," saying that Ragen acted knowingly and copied work created by the plaintiff.

The court relied on testimony furnished by Ragen herself.

Ragen, the court noted, "testified that work written by the plaintiff served as 'raw materials' for her, and that her method of writing is based on drawing from a 'well' and 'imagination' in ways that include the works of others, including those rendered by the plaintiff."

The Haredi writer Shapiro was represented by the Corinaldi law firm - Gilad Corinaldi and Talya Grinstein served as her attorneys. Corinaldi stated Sunday that this was a case of "cultural and literary disgrace." He elaborated: "This is a dark day for lovers of literature. The court seized upon Naomi Ragen's words and deeds, and decided that she transgressed in her writing, having stolen and plagiarized deliberately. The court sent out a message about integrity in writing."

Ragen was represented by the firm of Lieblich and Moser. Her attorney, Tamir Gluck, did not indicate whether her client would appeal the decision. Shapiro claimed NIS 1 million in damages; the court ordered the sides to negotiate the size of compensations.

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