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Ethiopia: Copyrights and CopyCrimes



  01:29:16 am, by admin   , 2855 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Alemayehu G. Mariam

Ethiopia: Copyrights and CopyCrimes

Elias Wondimu

Ethiopia: Copyrights and CopyCrimes

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Crimes Against the Mind

If a person were to maliciously burn or vandalize another’s house, it would be regarded as a serious property crime under the laws of any nation. If one were to walk into a bookstore and steal thousands of books and give them away to any passerby, that would also be a major property crime. How about taking a copyrighted book, scanning it and making it available to anyone in digital form online? Is that a serious criminal act? Is it also an immoral and depraved act?

Is it fair?

When a publisher, author or artist produces a book, a piece of music, a painting or other similar work, s/he is creating intellectual property which is as valuable as any other kind of property recognized by law. Just as doctors, lawyers, engineers and others make a living by practicing their professions, those in the literary, artistic and publishing communities make their living from marketing their intellectual creations. But the total disrespect and contempt shown by some individuals to the intellectual property rights of Ethiopian musicians, artists and authors is downright sickening and maddening.

Today, the music of the legendary Ethiopian artists, including Tilahun Gessesse, Mahmoud Ahmed, Bizunesh Bekele, Alemayehu Eshete, Kiros Alemayehu, Kassa Tessema, Ketema Makonnen, Asnaketch Worku, Mary Armede, Hirut Bekele, Ali Birra, Aster Aweke, Kuku Sebsebie, Muluken Melesse, Teodros “Teddy Afro” Kassahun, Shambel Belayneh and so many others, are illegally and casually stored online and made freely available. The artists receive no payments and their work is distributed without their permission and often to the financial benefit (selling ads on websites, subscriptions, etc.) of the music pirates. The individuals who store the music illegally and those who download them illegally work together to not only impoverish these great artists but also destroy their creative potential and ability to enrich the culture.

Crimes Against the Press

This contemptible culture of online piracy passed another shameful milestone recently when an entire book was scanned and posted on the internet in clear violation of international and national copyright laws. The book in question was the recently published memoir of former Ethiopian junta leader Mengistu Hailemariam. The website that scanned and posted the book online justified its action as follows:

Mass murderer and brutal dictator Mengsitu Haile Mariam (exiled in Harare, Zimbabwe) has written a 500+ pages book that has been published by Tsehai Publisher of Los Angeles. This mass murderer has not yet atoned or paid for his horrendous crimes and the mass killings of the Red Terror. He now hopes to benefit from the sale of his book of lies. We strongly feel that this criminal should be tried before a court of law and should be hindered from benefitting from his crime. Thus, we have published the book in PDF and we are posting it for free usage of all interested readers.

The website operators defended their illegal copying and posting by claiming that they had a right to do so under American law:

Our action is protected by Son of Sam Law in the USA which prohibits criminals from profiting from their crimes by selling their stories to publishers. Accessories to such actions are also included in the prohibition and in certain cases the law can be extended beyond the criminal to include friends, neighbors and family members of the lawbreaker. Denying the holocaust is a crime in many countries and Mengistu denies firmly the Red Terror and the mass murders. Concerned Ethiopians are studying the possibility of a law suit against Mengistu and his LA based publisher who may also be a target of boycott by all Ethiopians. Assisting and helping mass murderers to profit from their crimes by publishing their book of lies is a crime by itself.

The illegal posting is allegedly motivated by the desire to prevent Mengistu from getting a “benefit from the sale of his book”, despite the fact that posting the digital copy of the book will give wider dissemination of what they described as a “book of lies”. Ironically, by posting the book online for all to read, the copyright infringers more likely gave great credibility to Mengistu’s claims about them than actually discrediting him. But the real target of the vengeance is the publisher, Tsehai Publishers, and not Mengistu. The copyright violators’ twisted message is simple: If they do not like the message of an author, they will retaliate by scanning and posting the author’s book online and bankrupt the publisher.

One can disagree deeply with Mengistu and the facts or lies contained in his memoir. Having read the book, I am critical of the accuracy and selective recollection of many of his “facts”; and disagree with his attempt to avoid personal and regime accountability for his gross violations of human rights. But that is the way of all dictators. They always try to tell their stories in heroic terms and attempt to justify their crimes as patriotic acts. Although I disagree with Mengistu on numerous “facts” and unreservedly condemn his human rights record, I will be the first one to stand up and defend his right to write a book and publish it, even if it is all lies. To be sure, I defend Mengistu’s right to express himself just as vigorously as I defended the free speech rights of his successor Meles Zenawi when he spoke at Columbia University in September 2010. Why shouldn’t these two dictators be allowed to express themselves? Who is afraid of their “facts”, “lies”, ideas or opinions? Don’t the people have the right to hear these dictators and make their own judgment?

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” “Everyone” includes dictators and human rights violators. It is the moral duty of those of us who are committed to freedom, democracy and human rights to expose the lies, fabrications and brutality of dictators at every opportunity. By suppressing the views of the dictators, we not only undermine our own moral legitimacy against their lies but also prove to the world that we are indeed their clones. “If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.”
Those who posted Mengistu’s book online are absolutely wrong on the law. The so-called “Son of Sam Law” they tout as authority for posting the book online was adopted in the State of New York in 1983 to prevent convicted criminals from selling their stories to publishers and profiting from the notoriety of their crimes. That law was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. New York adopted a narrowly tailored law in 2001 requiring, among other things, victim notification whenever a person convicted of a crime receives a certain amount of money. A similar law in California was struck down by that state’s highest court in 2002. Under federal law (18 U.S.C. § 3681 (2000) [Special Forfeiture of Collateral Profits of Crime]), the U.S. attorney may seek a federal court order authorizing “forfeiture of all or any part of proceeds from a contract relating to a depiction of such crime in a movie, book, newspaper, magazine, radio or television production…” There is no law in the United States that gives private parties the right to become “Special Prosecutors” to catch “mass murderers” who “profit from their crimes by publishing their book of lies” online, or violate the copyright of publishers in the name of preventing “mass murderers” from profiting. As a matter of law, no state or federal court has personal jurisdiction over Mengistu to deprive him of any “profits” he may get from the sale of the book. Even if such jurisdiction could be had, Mengistu would still be entitled to full due process of law before any court orders denial of proceeds from the sale of his book. Yes, dictators are also entitled to full due process before there are deprived of life, liberty and property.

Crimes Against Copyright Laws

The illegal posting of Mengistu’s memoir is not about lies, truths or criminals profiting from their crimes. It is about criminal infringement of copyrights. Since 1886, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works “Berne Convention”, see Art. 2) has been in place to protect literary and artistic works. Under 17 U.S.C. §506 (a )(1 )(B), “Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed… (B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180–day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000.”

The whole idea in copyright law is to give the creator of an original work exclusive intellectual property rights for a specified amount of time, which in the U.S. is the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. During this period, the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work. Under the “fair use” rule, others may make limited use of the material for critical reviews of a work or for news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

Crimes Against Culture

I suspect there may be some who are not familiar with Tsehai Publishers and the young man who has toiled so hard for so many years to create a publishing outlet to Ethiopian, African and other academics dedicated to scholarship on Ethiopia and the continent in general. Elias Wondimu started Tsehai Publishers in 1998. His aim was to create an institution that will “provide a venue for writers whose works may otherwise go unpublished.” Through these efforts, Elias hopes to achieve our goals of fostering intercultural dialogue and social justice.

Elias has an extraordinary and unrivalled record in seeking to enhance Ethiopian culture. He came to the U.S. in September 1994 to participate in the 12th International Ethiopian Studies Conference held at Michigan State University. Shortly thereafter, he began service as an editor for Ethiopian Review magazine, which appeared in print form until 2000. After closing out the print version of the magazine, he dedicated his time towards the establishing Tsehai Publishers, which is named in memory of his mother who died in Ethiopia in 1997. Over the past decade, Tsehai publishers, now based at Loyola Marymount University, has made available nearly 60 scholarly and literary works on a variety of topics, the vast majority of them concerned with Ethiopian and African affairs. The publications cover the entire political cross-section without partisanship and censorship.

Among the dozens of original scholarship and reprints of some classic works on Ethiopian and African history, politics, anthropology, sociology, economics, religion and culture include: Tradition & Change in Ethiopia (2010), Feudalism and Modernization in Ethiopia (2006), Wit and Wisdom of Ethiopia (1999), Enough with Famines in Ethiopia (2006), The Survival of Ethiopian Independence (2004), A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (2010), A History of the Beta Israel (Falasha) (2010), Protestant & Catholic Missions in Orthodox Ethiopia (2007), Life and Culture in the Townships of Cape Town (2007), AIDS Orphans and their Grandparents (2006), Wax and Gold (2005), Civil Wars and Revolution in the Sudan (2005), Ethiopia in Wartime (2004). A complete list is available here.

In 2004, Tsehai Publishers established The International Journal of Ethiopian Studies (IJES), currently available on JSTOR, the international online system for archiving academic journals. A number of Ethiopian academics and scholars including myself and professors Maimire Mennasemay, Worku Negash and Alula Pankhurst have served as senior editors. IJES is an interdisciplinary, refereed journal which is published twice a year and dedicated to scholarly research relevant to or informed by the Ethiopian experience. IJES publishes articles in English and Amharic. The Journal’s mission statement explains that

IJES will, for the first time, provide Ethiopian scholars with an Ethiopian venue for reflecting seriously on Ethiopian issues from a scholarly perspective… One of the deepest obstacles to African (including Ethiopian) progress towards democracy and economic prosperity is the peculiar situation of Africans being reduced to an object of knowledge by contemporary social science. The absence of Africans, including Ethiopians, as self-examining, self-evaluating, self-defining, and self-propelling subjects of history [has resulted in our] total dependence on external (European and American) definitions, interpretations, explanations, evaluations of who we are and what our problems and their solutions are.”

Tsehai Publishers has also organized a number of number of national conferences covering a wide range of issues and topics and sponsored a film festival for young filmmakers. The list of Elias’ contributions to the intellectual life of the Ethiopian, African and international communities is significant and much appreciated.
Those of us who take great pride in what Elias has accomplished could be faulted for speaking very highly of him. Perhaps others who have looked at his efforts could offer a more objective assessment. Prof. Wendy Belcher of Princeton University writes:

Elias is doing something unusual and important. There are very few publishers from the African continent, and, in the U.S., there are [only] a handful which are run by Africans and are publishing African texts. For an Ethiopian to have a press is more appropriate than almost any other nationality. They’ve had a written language going back 3,000 years and have long been in the business of printing and preserving the written word. He’s in a long, honorable line.”

Such is the contribution of Elias and Tsehai Publishers to the preservation, conservation and glorification of Ethiopian and African history and culture. Those who illegally copied and posted the book are not attacking the author of the book, but Elias and Tsehai Publishers. Their crimes are against the very essence of Ethiopian and African culture and those scholars and authors who spend years researching their works. All Ethiopians and Africans are victims of this cowardly crime.

It is important to know that Elias has brought great honor and pride to all Ethiopians. In 2007, he was named Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation and the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace to help establish lines of dialogue between African scholars, poets, historians, academics, aesthetes, journalists and scholars. In 2008, he was profiled in the inaugural edition of Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles along with such distinguished individuals as Steve Wonder, Tavis Smiley, Kobe Bryant, Isaiah Washington and Dr. Maulana Karenga. He was also profiled in a special edition of the LA Weekly as one the leading independent presses in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed on the Voice of America, National Public Radio, Deutsche Welle Radio, SBS Australia and other media on various cultural topics.

Let’s Right a CopyWrong: A Special Plea to All Ethiopians and Others Who Value a Free Press
This past week, the U.S. Congress considered two laws aimed at the type of copyright crime committed against Tsehai Publishers. The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (“PIPA”) would have allowed the U.S. Attorney General to require domain name registries to “suspend operation of, and lock, the domain name” of a website “dedicated to infringing activity.” The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would have expanded the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property. While lawmakers wrestle with the issues, we can all do our part to support, protect and preserve a unique and irreplaceable institution in the Ethiopian/African Diaspora. Above all, we should defend the right to press freedom and free speech against not only dictators who shutter newspapers and close down publishing houses but also those who use copyright blackmail and the threat of financial bankruptcy against publishers.

Let us do the right thing!

Those who have downloaded the book in digital or print form aware or unaware of the criminality of the act should delete it permanently from your computers and discard the printed version.
Those who have read the book online should have the courage of their convictions to contact Tsehai Publishers pay what is justly due at the link here.

Most importantly, we all need to show moral outrage by speaking out against such copyright criminality and moral courage by doing our part to support Tsehai Publishers for it is a treasure we cannot afford to lose.
Let us make our donations in any amount we can by pressing on this link.

On a personal note, I ask those who have followed my weekly commentaries and essays over the past six years to help
me help Tsehai Publishers. I believe in Tsehai Publishers and fully support the efforts of Elias Wondimu and his associates who have toiled for years to make a gift of light (Tsehai) to all of us. It is a simple choice we face:
We can do nothing and let darkness overwhelm our history, culture and future. Or we can do something and keep the sun shining brightly on Ethiopia, Africa and beyond!

Would you please help me help Tsehai Publishers? Please donate by pressing here. Any amount will do. THANKS....
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: and


Comment from: Ras Mitat [Visitor]
Ras Mitat

Alemayehu G. Mariam’s endorsement is like the kiss of death.

01/23/12 @ 02:02
Comment from: Brook [Visitor]

I’m just wondering maybe the Weyanne thugs might be against copy right to? If they are? We must then conclude that anything which is GOOD for Ethiopia is bad for thugs Weynne or Vise-Versa.

01/23/12 @ 03:02
Comment from: Tezibt [Visitor]

Dear Prof. AL:

If you had your dad dragged from his bed and murdered brutally, you may not be who you are today and you may not be commenting this way. Only the feet knows the discomfort of a bad shoe. But some of your points could make sense. Every one should have the right to speak their mind. Every one should be given the right to speech and publishing, the issue here is of a senstive matter. So don’t expect every one to agree on this matter but it will have contribution the the evolving minds of Ethiopians. Below I have something I read on how this type of issue is complicated.

The Supreme Court found that New York’s Son of Sam statute violated the First Amendment in Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of N. Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U.S. 105 (1991). The Court found that New York had a legitimate interest in “ensuring that criminals do not profit from their crimes,” citing Riggs v. Palmer, and also in “compensating victims from the fruits of the crime.” But it concluded that the statute in question was too broad. “It would have escrowed payment for such works as The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which describes crimes committed by the civil rights leader before he became a public figure; Civil Disobedience, in which Thoreau acknowledges his refusal to pay taxes and recalls his experience in jail; and even the Confessions of Saint Augustine, in which the author laments ‘my past foulness and the carnal corruptions of my soul,’ one instance of which involved the theft of pears from a neighboring vineyard.” The Court concluded that “the Son of Sam law clearly reaches a wide range of literature that does not enable a criminal to profit from his crime while a victim remains uncompensated.” Because the statute singled out speech based on content and was not narrowly tailored to compelling state interests, the Court concluded that the statute violated the First Amendment.

The California Supreme Court struck down California’s Son of Sam law in 2002, applying logic similar to Simon & Schuster in Keenan v. Superior Court. In light of Simon & Schuster and Keenan, it seems likely few of the original Son of Sam laws would withstand a constitutional challenge. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, “[n]early one-third of all states have not altered their notoriety-for-profit statutes following the Simon & Schuster ruling. Some states that have amended their laws have not addressed the Supreme Court’s concerns. However, a substantial number of states have attempted to revise their laws to make them constitutional.” New York amended its statute in 1992 and again in 2001 to create, as one author has described it, “a never-ending threat of suit” applying to those “under the watch of the criminal justice system.” So in some states criminals can write books or give interviews about their crimes and earn money for the stories; in others criminals cannot profit from their crimes.

Of course, earning money and keeping it are two different things. As the Simon & Schuster court noted, criminals remain liable to victims and their heirs. The cases of O.J. and Robert Blake show that a person can be acquitted of a crime but still be held civilly liable. If the victims fear that the killer will dissipate assets before they can get a judgment, they can try to get an order freezing those assets (this is called pre-judgment attachment). So even in cases where criminals elude statutes meant to keep them from profiting, their victims and the victims’ families can still see to it that they don’t.

01/23/12 @ 04:29
Comment from: Afarman [Visitor]

Ayatolah Alemayehu Gebremariam now your true identity is being exposed, you have come to protect Mengistu’s Hailemariams book in the name of copyright.

Mengistu is a serial murderer who fled to Zimbabwe in 1991, he has now written a book to make money. Its good he has written his perspective buy we make sure he doesnt make money out of it. This brutal former president of Ethiopia needs to be brought to justice, he has been tried in absentia. The court in Ethiopia has passed a death penalty on Mengistu.

Professore Alemayehu we know you are one of the few individuals who have missed the good old amhara dominated Ethiopia. Wake up and see the new Ethiopia, we wouldnt entertain those who try to take us back to the dark ages.

Ayatollah Alemariam just keep on barking with your fellow brothers in arms like Isaias Afeworki, Tamagn Beyene and Birhanu Nega. Ehiopia ill soon get rid of your boss Isaias and Elias Kifle, your dream of seing weyane overthrown will vanish into the thin air.

you are a coward, now you have come with your usual garbage article intended to protect mengistu’s memoir.

01/23/12 @ 04:33
Comment from: Amhara Princess [Visitor]
Amhara Princess

The good ol’ saying goes, “No publicity is bad publicity". The cone heads who tried to stop Mengistu’s proceedings from the book are actually giving him free publicity, a wider range of reader base, who would have otherwise ignored his book or wouldn’t even have bothered to read, think or talk about it. Sometimes, it is best to think twice about the adverse effects of our actions.

Why do these self acclaimed Law enforcers think that publishing companies actually provide certain amount of their new release for FREE to certain publicity magnet individuals, book review blogs/groups, reputable media outlets etc? Go figure.

… That said, Mengistu H Mariam has every right to tell his story even if it is all lies. It is up to us to boycott him or read his story or whatever it is that he had to say and pass our own judgements. He is NO Goddamn preacher to convert people into his way of thinking/reasoning. Give credit to people’s ability to read, comprehend, research facts, most of all determine truth from lies and make up their own minds. Don’t speak, act or judge on our behalf folks (Owners of the website, Son of Sam law enforcers). Who on planet earth are you to do so?

01/23/12 @ 05:21
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]

Do you love free book? Here is one by Mengistu Haile Maryam.

ትግላችን ፡ በመንግስቱ ሀይለማርያም (full Version)

when you click the link it will lead you to a pdf google doc and it will tell you “Sorry, we are unable to retrieve the document for viewing or you don’t have permission to view the document.
Please try again later.”

But, if you look up there is a button which says “Download Original” and if you click this button will lead you to your FREE book, enjoy &#59;)

01/23/12 @ 08:19
Comment from: ashenafi [Visitor]

Nice try, Almariam. You can regurgirate your legalese all you want (I now understand why your profession is hatefully regarded in the US) Menge is not going to a get a cent from his lies. Maybe you would not feel so strongly and defend him as such if one of your friends or relatives were butchered by him. Elias knew very well what he was getting into and he deserves it. Almariam, stick to Woyane bashing and we will be OK. Kudos for EPRP or whoever did this to Mange.

01/23/12 @ 10:13
Comment from: Tefera [Visitor]

who reads such trash to begin with even if it is for free. this baria came to power by killing his friends, killed our brothers and sisters, half a million of them, take all the property while throwing our parents to jail and when the rebels close on him run to harare like a coward …
that is the story of mengistu sue me!

01/23/12 @ 11:03
Comment from: Heny [Visitor]

Doesn’t this wild cat have aany other job?
Ay almariam, you are simply maferia shaebya

01/23/12 @ 16:17
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]
Tulu Proud ET

I fully agree with you Professor. Our people have to start to learn respecting other’s property and right as much a we are holding dearly what we think is ours.

We have to oust and get a good principled leader who will restore responsibility, ethics and morality. Until then people have to try to exercise morality and ethics and leave what is not theirs. Only those who worked hard should collect the benefit of their hard work .

Sadly Ethiopia is occupied by a hater who does not believe in his “Ethiopianess” and his lawless ruling is snatching and looting everyone, everything and everywhere.

Implementing ethics, morality and dignity is not in his priority list. His priority is looting, selling land and pushing people out of their houses, land and businesses.

By the same token Meles should leave Ethiopia because Ethiopia is not his country. He is working for foreign countries. He made Ethiopia the arena for Saudi Arabia, India and foreigners to buy and sell what belongs to Ethiopia.

01/23/12 @ 16:47
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]

Take it easy, Mengestu is not the first and last dictator to write a book:

*Mein Kampf/My Struggel by Adolf Hitler.
*Zabiba and the King by Saddam Hussein
*The Road to Power by Joseph Stalin.
*My Vision by Muammar Gaddfi
*The Greater Struggle by Ayatollah Khomeini.
*The Doctrine of Fascism by Benito Mussolini.

Every body knows the new book to be added in the DICTATOR’S BOOK SHELF.

01/23/12 @ 17:25
Comment from: Bethelihem [Visitor]

Yes, it is just like stealing. Wrong and wrong and wrong. Even the Bible says that we should be content with what we have and don’t steal.

In the civilized countries even after death no one can use, sell, or copy ones intellectual property without paying the proceeding or royalty to the owners family or fund as appropriated. It is only after getting permission from the originator and paying fee that one can dispense or take as appropriated.

I see some of the comments here that are so irresponsible and downright wrong. The problem with our society is that it is ok to take his/her property but it is not ok when it is my property.

It all depends who we are talking to. It is like taking to the righteous or the thief. If we are taking to the one that steals of course every word will be twisted and mingled in every wrong way to justify the stealing.

01/23/12 @ 17:37
Comment from: [Member]

Elias Wondimu is one Ethiopian Entrepreneur who ought to be supported for his excellent achievement in the Publishing industry. Thank you professor Alemayehu for bring ing this natinal and timely issue to Nazret.
I for one would like to send a contribution .


God bless all Ethiopians who are genuinely upbringing the Ethiopian cause.


01/23/12 @ 17:43
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

This is not whether the late Military Junta has the right or not
to write his memory .But of a Question of the “Rule of Law” of the Legal Rights ot private property .Of course famous Ethiopian Artists are actually spoiled from their rights of ownership by individuals who illigally publish their works on Free access websites .Afagniman and Co. before writing your usual crap
commentaries and insanities against professor Al ,you’d better
ask your own Leba Master that he takes the proper measures against those who are actually violating copy rights by the way imposing the
true “Rule of Law” .Instead of musseling the “FREE PRESS",and putting in jail “FREE PRESS JOURNALISTS ” ,"HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ” and “POLITICAL OPONANTS “

01/23/12 @ 17:57
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

By the way who made distribuate the first Mengistu Supposed memories of course Azeb Mesfin’s gangs of Mega Net Corp and EFFORT .Hope next time that these evil guys shall not go by
publishing “Mein Kampf” and declare it as their own property .Afterall the crime minister daily COMEDIA has no limits !!!!

01/23/12 @ 18:12
Comment from: Legesse [Visitor]

Prof. Al Mariam:

I fully agree with you that even Mengistu or Meles have the right to speak their mind. Our struggle is for a rule of law and democracy. A system that doesn’t protect the worst amongst us will not protect anyone of us.

Mengistu is an evil person. He is a murderer, a traitor, and a pathetic lire. But he has the right to speak. I read the book online. It is simply trash. I would never have read it had it not been posted online. I don’t understand for the life of me why his adversaries decide to do this. He trashed them in his book and they are busy circulating his book to the widest possible audience. Oh EPRP! Oh our martyrs! look what has become of that gallant party.

Those who manage Debteraw website have a moral responsibility to compensate the publisher. I also hope that they have the courage to apologize for the damage they did to Ato Elias and remove the book from their website immediately.

I will send the price of the book to Ato Elias because I read it online.

Thank you Prof. Al Mariam for the guiedance that you always provide.


01/23/12 @ 21:25
Comment from: ፊታውራሪ Free [Member]

Oke, i feel bad for the publisher, but i have payed more than enough for Mengistu. Ethiopia and Ethiopians of all creed have paid more than enough for Mengistu. We have made to pay him in blood, sweet, and life. I absolutely agree with the good professor that we Ethiopians in general have a big problem with piracy, but there is a big difference in intent/reason/motive between the persons who have made Tilahun’s songs and Mengistu’s books available for free on their respective websites. The motive for music piracy is money almost all the time, but i don’t think making money is the intent/reason/motive for the person who has uploaded the dictator’s book on his website so that anyone interested can download it for free. Hindering or violating Mengistu’s right to tell his story cannot be the reason/motive either. As a matter of fact, as Amhara princess pointed out, the free availability of the book will increase the readership of the book. If that wasn’t true, the person would have used her/his website to discourage people from reading the colonel’s book instead of disseminating it online. I am very much happy that Mengistu has written a book to tell his version of the story, but i have contempt with the idea of him making profit out of it given the leading role he has played to murder a truly elite Ethiopian generation that would have had given the country to free herself from poverty and backwardness. No sympathy for Mengistu, and He should not be allowed to make profit out of a book that was written for the sole purpose of denying his crimes.

Btw, the case of Bereket Semoin, the Arteran bandit, is equally contemptible.

01/23/12 @ 21:37
Comment from: [Member]

Ask the United Nations, The organizations of African Unions (OAU), The World Court, The United States government, the European Union and the Zimbabawe government, the extradition of Mengistu Hailemariam for the crime he commits against humanities. This fugitive lives a lavish life in Zimbabwe.

01/23/12 @ 22:16
Comment from: [Member]

First of all Mengistu have no brain to write a book. Second, he is a serial killer not a writer. No need to defend him. He will die soon anyway.

01/23/12 @ 22:32
Comment from: addiiss [Visitor]

Shame on you Alemayehu.

Of all people, do you really come to defend Mengistu Hailemariam??

I didn’t know you’re so low!!!

01/23/12 @ 23:16
Comment from: meyisaw [Visitor]

Agazi (agases)woman!
You wrote “Most Tigray people are naturally gifted book writers despite they did not have the opportunity to attend higher education do to past oppression and civil war.”
But it has been more than 20 years since your masters took shower, changed their rugged clothes and became what they are now except you with single IQ. You know, twenty years is a long long time to educate yourself unless you are born stupid and brainless ..just like you to name one.

01/24/12 @ 00:19
Comment from: Agerwedad [Visitor]

I think we are missing the point here, there is a need for us to respect others’ intellectual property. Shooting the messenger in this case the publisher sounds rather unfair though. As far as Mengistu being able to get his story out, it’s interesting that he’s getting an opportunity to do what he never allowed Ethiopians to do while he was ruling us with an iron fist! By the way I also hear that Meles has written a bunch of books but allegedly he lacks the money to publish them so I guess that will be the next episode.

01/24/12 @ 00:58
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

Agasess Woman ,who cares of your daily childish Bla ,Blas …Afterall
your own Leba master has done nothing better than persuing the Destruction actions of the late Military Junta .Mengistu comitted mass murdering during his power so what is actually doing the tyrant
Zenawi with his Agazis .Derg and Esepa members illigally with their puppets did get rich .So what are actually doing Agazi fake officers ,
Tigre Mafiosis and kilib kersam bandas !!!!TPLF Thugs are trying to fool peoples, by making them accept,that there’s no alternatives for them than two worst deseases of
PEST and Cholera !!!!

01/24/12 @ 01:26
Comment from: truthone [Visitor]

So cheap article. You can defend piracy for the artists you mentioned but you can’t defend for criminal who turned away from justice.
The Ethiopian people don’t need to pay any peny to read Mengistu’s junk book.The Ethiopian people already paid a lot of blood to the blood sucker Mengistu.

01/24/12 @ 03:49
Comment from: Amhara Princess [Visitor]
Amhara Princess

@ Extraterrestrial

“Every body knows the new book to be added in the DICTATOR’S BOOK SHELF". Sure we do, Meles Zenawi’s!

@ Agazi

I am glad you eventually managed to figure out the “Feminine & Masculine” aspect of your user name :):)

Next step would be a therapy session to work on your pathological liar personality. Hopefully, soon after that, you will also realize that your BRAIN is in extreme delusional, psychopathic, narcissistic STATE & you will do something about it before you try & write a book CLAIMING how 70% of Tigray population had died during your TPLF bandit years (Your words), how your great Grand pa wrote the bible, invented the wheel, was Socrates’s cousin etc etc. You need help.

01/24/12 @ 08:07
Comment from: Tulu Proud ET [Visitor]
Tulu Proud ET


First thing first. Mengistu is not a problem now.

Right now Ethiopian farmers are in the mist of being throwing out of their homes by Meles armies. Meles and his EPRDF government are selling their land and make ways to foreign farmers.

Gambella people are under going through a very hostile, repressive and inhuman conditions committed by what they believe is their government as well.

The mystery of Meles is unveiling to every Ethiopian who had had believed that Meles is/was working for Ethiopia. Now it is obvious that Meles is a foreign agent the same as Alamoudi who is a Saudi agent.

What all Ethiopians must do now is to ask the United Nations, The organizations of African Unions (OAU), The World Court, The United States government, the European Union to help Ethiopians overthrow Meles.

01/24/12 @ 14:52
Comment from: Mehari [Visitor]

Amhara Princess!

thank you for the well deserved reply to this brainless Agazi…t? woman who really is insane and stupid who write without having a taught of what she need to say. Actually, this was not even an issue she may fully comprehend. Agazi..don’t forget to take your usual medication to survive the winter!

01/24/12 @ 17:20
Comment from: Ahmu [Visitor]

Al Mariam,
I used to read your articles with some interest. But, this one is crazy.

How is it that you put great Ethiopian artists on the same page with criminal Mengistu?

How is that you talk about copy right crimes in the same page with a murderer who did not even show mercy to his own friends?

The man used everyone for his ‘glory’, and in this book he even used his own family to promote his criminality. (Ethiopian deman that his family disavow him)

Sure the publisher may have done good stuff before, and hope he does same in the future. But, does that mean the victims of Mengistu have to shut up unless they bow to some legal understanding of all-knowing Al Mariam.

I am all for copy rights and all that. But, the way you write, this bitterness in you, that you put so clearly for all to see leads to a question. What is it about Mengistu, man?

01/24/12 @ 19:47
Comment from: Bethihu [Visitor]

Our society have more than enough documented hitorical fact about colonel Mengistu Hlilemariam that he was the most brutal dictator who is responsible for thousands of Ethiopian liv

So, unless his X- comereds which are diaspora followers, I don’t think any Ethiopian with his/her right mind would adovacate for Mengistu’s right to write blah..blah….It is sad to see some ethiopian diasporas becoming English specking robots….As far my concern, Mengistu and his X-’comrades are
responsible for so many innocen lifes, and we should all voice to brought them to justice for the crime they had committed on
their watch!!

God bless the worled!!

01/24/12 @ 20:07
Comment from: Suleiman Nassir [Visitor]
Suleiman Nassir

Dear Almariam,
I read your commentregarding copyrights infringment puzzled and unimpressed. Dictator Mengistu never had been respecetd property right in his heydays. He nationalized the nation’s land and everyones flat except one. This is a person came to power with blood stain in his hand and non existent respect for human rights. He is one of the notorious criminal convicted in abstentia by the Ethiopian court (though there is no such independent justice system in Ethiopia at present). Nevertheless, his heinous crime and mass murder are well documented by his own ministry of internal affairs.
Therfore, what kind of legal protection you are talking about for a fugitive having a death warrant on his head?
Second, what kind of moral ground you are establishing for publishers seeking profit against the bruthal killings of innocent Ethiopians accross the board?
Lastly, from your so many writtings I could understand that you are fierce promoter of capitalist system where the few are previledged over the society. You are talking about copyrights infrigment but never aware of the majority of Ethiopian society who struggle to feed itself let alone to buy the dictator’s trash. Your contempt seems to be grounded from the fact that protecting your interest than the loss incurred by the so called Tsehay publishers. There is an Ethiopian good old saying that “an impact on a nose made an eye to tears". Well done! A greed that drives an intellectual insane!

01/25/12 @ 04:14
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

By the way Bethihu ,what about your own Leba Master ,the TPLF bandits ,the Agazi Officers ,the looter Tigre Mafiosis who have comitted as much as crimes even more than the late military Junta .Extra the next books one shall be of the crime Minister entitled “Hyewetena Ye Ethiopia Andeneta Helewhuna Demsesa !!!” ,

01/25/12 @ 10:11
Comment from: Ali bira [Visitor]
Ali bira

Al compare yourself with other Scholras what kind of schcolar are any way. So Mengistu’s ditribe and your balber on moronic web site do not matter the majority of your writing is plegerized. remeber the book frikconomics… you are fake.
\By the way since most people hate Ali Mariam he is rong person to advocte for any donation

01/25/12 @ 12:03
Comment from: Yeseladengi [Visitor]  

I was about to start to respond to most of you but then I don’t really see the point. Let God bless you all and give you the wisdom to think before talking. Evidently most don’t have the understanding which takes to realize the Wonderful Gift the publisher gave us, etiopians and to our Ethiopian book library. You may not agree or lie what Mengistu did but why can’t you see the importance of the book???? Really r u this empty? Every brutal leader (ayatollah, Dada, even Hitler) have books and movies of their time. Which we all grew up reading right? (u may not have read ). Please folks let us think twice and stop embarrassing ourselves. Let us Respect eachother and learn to disagree win GRACE.

Thank you

01/25/12 @ 20:24
Comment from: Zenaba [Visitor]

What copyrights? What about the right to life? Your Menge stole the lives of thousands. He is now stealing their memory and presenting it as his ‘intellectual property’. What a sick jock. G. Mariam knows this, but he has chosen the side of H. Mariam. His criticism of Mengistu is not convincing, it’s a sort of insurance tucked in to avoid accusation of being an advocate of the criminal Mengistu. Alemayehu’s hatred for the victims of Mengistu’s terror oozes from every corner of his article. The title says it all.

Mengistu has whitewashed his ‘intellectual property’ in the names of his doctor children. The children are facing a choice. They must choose between being members of a criminal family, or must distance themselves from their criminal father. It may not be an easy choice, but it is much easier than the choice given by their father to the children of Ethiopia in the torture chambers he built all over Ethiopia. They should refuse to be used for a dance on the dead bodies of thousands of Ethiopians.

Megistu forced the parents of his victims to dance over the bodies of their children and chant ‘abyot, abyot’. Alemayehu is dancing on the memories of the victims of Mengistu chanting ‘copyrights, copyrights’ He is repulsive. Alemayehu should apologize to Ethiopian artists for draging them into the lake of blood Mengistu built. His concern for them is dishonst. He is insulting theirs and our intelligence.

I do not believe the number of people who came out to one way or another to show sympathy for Mengistu. Has the diaspora become a free field for the cadres of the Derg? Or people must be so ignorant of their very recent history. Do not be taken by the blubber about property rights. The right to life is paramount. The ‘sophistication’ of Alemayehu cannot hide this principle.

01/27/12 @ 07:49
Comment from: Mekonnen [Visitor]

Remember the RED TERROR of Ethiopia that took the life of young, old, men, women and children’s. Mengistu and his junta followers massacred millions. Most of them hopelessly lost their life. Family broken, others left the country forever. The damage done by Mengistu Hailemariam is beyond imagination. I don’t know why this happen but Memgistu will never tell the truth and the pain he caused to many Ethiopians. We can’t forget his murder and crime at all. It’s still fresh in our mind. He is coward and trash human being. He never tells the truth. He can write a book full of lie and no one believes him. He is in the history trash gasket like Hitler. Forget about the copy right to protect mingistu. He is the most wanted criminal and serial murderer of the 21st century. I hope history will not repeat itself again, and we have to learn from this. Let Mengistu use the book to clean his ass if he will. Anyone can advocate for him let them go to hell with him.

01/27/12 @ 15:30
Comment from: Deg Aregu [Visitor]
Deg Aregu

There are people with reptilian brains and hearts with little empathy for the feelings, or life of others. These seem to have missed the mammalian stage of evolution. Go figure the rest.

01/28/12 @ 08:07
Comment from: Hailu [Visitor]

Dear Ato Alemayehu,

First of all I respect your opinion on this matter. Yes we all have to respect individual property right or copy right. However, In regard to Mengistu Hailemariam’s book the copy right you are advocating is out of the line. As a lawyer, professor and intellectual you can advocate for many issues in this planet. You can fight for journalist who received death penalty, you can fight for human right or you can fight for innocent individuals who are serving prison. You can fight for democracy around the world. Make your brain work for the better tomorrow. Mengistu Hailemariam is a man who murdered many innocent Ethiopians including my family. He executed my father, Took my mother in the middle of the night from our house raped, tortured and to this date we never found her body. My brother and sister was murdered by the red terror and its leader Mengistu Hailemariam and thrown into the street of Addis Ababa to feed the homeless dogs. This is the man you are advocating about copy right. I called it blood money. Whoever makes money from this book has blood on his or her hand. Do you know that you are inserting your pen into my wounded heart? Every time you support Mengistu my heart is bleeding. You are hearting many of us who are struggling to find answer from this cowered. Mengistu must be in prison not in the business of writing a book. How on earth you are advocating for this serial killer, barbaric monster. How much commission do you make from this book? Ato Alemayehu in the name God I am asking you to use your brain for common good of Many Ethiopians.

01/28/12 @ 10:48



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