Authors! Beware of privacy laws in Brazil

Isabel Vincent, author, presently a reporter at the New York Post and formerly the Globe and Mail’s South America bureau chief from 1991 to 1995, was an official guest of the Canadian government at Brazil’s most important book fair, and was being sued for her latest book, which is now more than four years old. In fact, Gilded Lily: Lily Safra – the Making of One of the World’s Wealthiest Widows is now considered so controversial that it has been banned in Brazil for more than a year. Distribution of her book in Brazil carries a fine of approximately $50 a copy.

A court in Curitiba, in southern Brazil, banned the book – a biography of Ms. Safra, the billionaire philanthropist – after one of her relatives alleged that Vincent had defamed a Safra family member, who is dead. This took place even though the book had never been sold in Brazil, and has never been translated into Portuguese.

Now, she has the distinction of being the only foreigner to have landed in the centre of a long-simmering controversy in Brazil, where privacy laws can prevent the publication of unauthorized biographies. In Latin America’s biggest democracy, it’s not uncommon for “the Justice” to order the seizure of unauthorized biographies from store and library shelves. A publisher in Rio Vincent met said he is a defendant in dozens of cases filed under the privacy law. A journalist who works for Zero Hora, the leading daily in Porto Alegre, a southern city of about two million people, told her that he is a defendant in 30 lawsuits.

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail here.