Copyright infringement is rampant in Sri Lanka, especially among translations of novels to Sinhala or Tamil as most translators fail to get approval or consent from the original authors when publishing translations. This, however, is a requirement by law and an author or copyright holder can take action against such translators under the Intellectual Property Act No. 26 of 2003.
Concerns over copyrights are accompanied by issues regarding the quality of translations and there seems to be no quality-checkers in the country to ensure all translations are up to standard. Further, ISBN or International Standard Book Number, which is a unique numerical book identifier, is completely useless when ensuring the content of a book.
An official at the National Library and Documentation Services Board (NLDSB) said that while information such as the author’s name, title, publisher, number of pages and year of publication are required to be provided, the NLDSB issues ISBN without checking the content of the publication.
“The same ISBN won’t be issued if a publication with the same title has been published before,” the official said, adding that, however, the NLDSB does not go through the publication content as the book number is issued before the publication of the book.
The NLDSB has been accused of being unconcerned about the low quality of books being issued the ISBN and what effect this could have on the identifier itself.
With regard to translations, ISBN is issued despite possible copyright infringement as the NLDSB does not ask for the original author’s consent or approval. This has also contributed towards the current situation of translations as copyright infringement and wrong and bad translations continue to be unaddressed, it is further alleged. See Insight