via CampusWatch - Monitoring Middle East Studies on Campus (links courtesy of newsgrist):
Scholarly Association Settles 'Libel Tourism' Case [incl. Joseph Massad, "Alms for Jihad," Cambridge University Press, Khalid bin Mahfouz]
by Jennifer Howard
The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 18, 2008
The College Art Association has averted a so-called libel tourism action threatened against it in Britain. The threat came from an Israeli professor of art history angry over a review of her book in Art Journal, one of the association's scholarly publications. The parties agreed that the association would ask institutional subscribers to the journal to withdraw portions of the disputed article from circulation.
Gannit Ankori, chair of the art-history department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was reportedly upset by a review of her book Palestinian Art (Reaktion Books, 2006), by Joseph A. Massad, an associate professor of Arab politics in the department of Middle East and Asian languages and culture at Columbia University, in the Fall 2007 issue of Art Journal. Mr. Massad has also been embroiled in a battle over his bid for tenure at Columbia, which was initially vetoed by a dean at the university but will undergo a second review this coming year (The Chronicle, June 6).
Mr. Massad's review, "Permission to Paint: Palestinian Art and the Colonial Encounter," is a lengthy treatment of three books on the subject. In it, Mr. Massad describes a controversy concerning Ms. Ankori's use of the work and theories of Kamal Boullata, a Palestinian painter and art historian. The disputed article does not directly accuse Ms. Ankori of plagiarism, but in her communications with the association, she argued that it was defamatory all the same.
"What I did accuse her of is appropriating ideas without crediting the person properly," Mr. Massad said in an interview. "If every academic was going to think that any critique of academic scholarship was going to have to be defended in a court of law, the state of academic argumentation would be very different."
Liberal Libel Laws
That Ms. Ankori threatened to sue over the article is a turn of events that has grown more frequent in recent years. That she was considering the prospect of legal redress in Britain is also no surprise. Libel laws in that country notoriously favor plaintiffs, even those based elsewhere (hence the term "libel tourism"). The art association, which is based in the United States, has many international members.
In February 2008, according to the association, Ms. Ankori's lawyers sent the group a letter alleging that the review "contained untrue statements and was defamatory of her and her work." The group consulted with lawyers here and in Britain, according to its executive director, Linda Downs, and decided that the cost and risk of defending a libel case there looked punishingly high.
"Ninety-eight percent of defendants on libel cases lose there," Ms. Downs said.
Major publishing houses "set aside funds for libel suits," she observed, but her group does not have such deep pockets. Even major publishers, however, have backed down when confronted with similar actions brought in British courts. Consider Cambridge University Press's decision to pulp a 2006 book, Alms for Jihad, in response to a lawsuit by Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi banker. That book alleged that Mr. Mahfouz had financial ties to groups implicated in terrorism in Sudan and other locales in the 1990s (The Chronicle, August 10, 2007).
The Right Response?
The art association reached an agreement with Ms. Ankori's lawyers about three weeks ago, Ms. Downs said. She could not disclose the details but sent The Chronicle a copy of a statement that her group sent to its approximately 2,000 institutional members and institutional Art Journal subscribers. The statement also went to online repositories such as JStor and ProQuest that distribute the journal electronically. [read on...]
via Artforum News; from The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/22/08:
The College Art Association paid $75,000 to an Israeli scholar who threatened to bring a libel lawsuit against it in Britain, The Jewish Daily Forward reported, along with other details of a settlement agreement first reported by The Chronicle last week.
The scholar, Gannit Ankori, chair of the art-history department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, had threatened to take action over a review of her book Palestinian Art in the fall 2007 issue of Art Journal, the association’s flagship publication. The contested review was written by Joseph A. Massad, an associate professor of Arab politics in the department of Middle East and Asian languages and culture at Columbia University.
In it, Mr. Massad alleged that Ms. Ankori had appropriated the work of a Palestinian artist and art historian, Kamal Boullata, without giving him proper credit. In a letter to the association, Ms. Ankori's lawyers countered that the review contained false and defamatory statements and threatened to sue. The lawsuit was threatened in Britain, where her book had been published and where libel laws are more favorable to plaintiffs.
As part of the deal to resolve the dispute, the association issued an apology to Ms. Ankori and sent a letter to its institutional subscribers, stating that the review "contained factual errors and certain unfounded assertions." It asked them to withdraw the relevant portions from circulation.
Mr. Massad, who is embroiled in a separate tenure battle at Columbia, acknowledged minor errors in his review but stood by his work. He characterized the association's decision to settle rather than defend the review "a cowardly act." -- Jennifer Howard
Posted on Sunday June 22, 2008 | Permalink |
Related and similar:
The San Francisco Chronicle:
Libel Tourism: Where Terrorism and Censorship Meet
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The Economist, Libel law:
Sheikh it all about
Nov 8th 2007
How far can a Saudi sheikh use English law against an American author?
The Boston Globe:
'Libel tourism' and the war on terror
By Samuel A. Abady and Harvey Silverglate, November 7, 2006
Libel Suit Leads to Destruction of Books
By GARY SHAPIRO, Staff Reporter of the Sun
August 2, 2007
Here's a letter penned by Kamal Boullatta himself about the alleged plagiarism in Palestinian Art:
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Kamal Boulatta: 'Gannit Ankori Plagiarized From Hard Won Research'