Months went by without any further contact from the lead co-editor, another red flag. Discreet email inquiries from me asking about progress toward publication were answered with terse one-line emails with no salutation or signature, yet another red flag. I was beginning to feel like ‘persona non grata.’ The new publication date was announced as “end of 2022.” For months, I had been expecting to receive galleys for approval and a limited copyright release form for signature, but seemingly the ‘connection had gone dead.’
During summer of 2022, I decided that something must be done: either the co-editors would publish my work or I would withdraw the chapter. When I asked the lead co-editor about actual publication date, he answered “Didn’t you get your copy?”
Apparently, the book had been published worldwide two months earlier. I was not allowed to review or approve galleys, review or approve a copyright transfer agreement, or even know the date of actual publication of the book. Now the red flags were really blowing hard!
I demanded an author’s copy of the book from the publishing company and nearly fell off my chair when it arrived. My work had been completely adulterated. It was no longer a scholarly piece of theory-driven analysis but now included, for example, seventeen personal color photographs copyrighted by the lead co-editor, making my work look like a travel brochure. Even worse, the photos each had a tag, two of which were blatantly misogynistic and racist. My text had been extensively rewritten, reorganized, parts omitted, new statements added, and was unrecognizable as my original scholarly work.
Of extreme concern to me was the fact that one of these unsolicited, unapproved, and unannounced statements added by the co-editors made a political judgement about the country of study and the statement directly contradicted what I had written. In my chapter I had specifically repudiated any such political statement. Even worse, the front cover of the book also included a politically driven misrepresentation.
To cap it all, the publishing company stamped my chapter as its copyright.
You can imagine what happened next: a long, complicated, frustrating, and unproductive email correspondence with the co-editors and the publishing company in which I asserted that they had collectively and individually committed copyright infringement and piracy. My goal was to stop all distribution of my work, either as a downloadable chapter or as part of the book, to protect my good name, to protect my reputation for scholarly work, and to protect myself from any repercussion from the government whose border had been willfully misrepresented in connection with my work.
The parties concerned showed no interest in responding to my complaint, so I issued a Cease-and-Desist Letter. Litigation may yet prove necessary to achieve compliance and remove the adulterated versions of my work from public access, sale, and circulation.