I caused a bit of controversy yesterday when I called out Get French Football for their unauthorized publication of an interview by Marti Perarnau. Perarnau is a journalist and author who is best known for his books on Pep Guardiola – Pep Confidential* and Pep Guardiola: the Evolution. Perarnau also operates his own web site and publishes an excellent paper and electronic magazine called The Tactical Room. Subscription to The Tactical Room is a mere 4 Euros per month and is well worth it for the excellent content that they provide.
Marti’s site is a bit of an outlier in that we live in a world of fast media, quick hits, hot takes, and twitter conversations. In our modern condition, the President of the United States causes a tweet storm every single day, which is quickly pounced upon, memes are made, and before the spittle is even dried on his lips, we’ve moved on to the next controversy.
This phenomenon is often denounced as the “fast” news cycle but I’m not sure that accurately describes what’s going on here. Yes, the President of the United States tweets out crazy-making statements every day but he’s only making one or two comments. What we are actually seeing is a proliferation of un-original content. It’s not the tweets. It’s that we have become a retweet culture.
There are whole news sites dedicated to re-writing and re-posting other people’s work. When I was a newspaper boy back in the 80s our local newspaper had dozens of reporters working on original content. The last time I checked that same paper it was 90% AP Wire reports.
What we have seen change in the last few years is a further degradation of news. The AP consolidation of reporting has given way to copy-paste reporting. So, instead of the Associated Press writing the article, every article on Arsenal.com is re-written by hundreds of news sites every day and presented as if it were a new article.
Real work, original work, is rare these days. In a world where people copy-paste other people’s work as if it was their own, or “translate” a work with almost no attribution, those original works are valuable.
Marti Perarnau has deliberately abandoned the twitter-copy-paste-meme news style of the last decade and gone back to a slower style of news. His site proudly displays the quote (among others) “En la sociedad de la prisa, el que camina despacio camina solo” attributed to Josep Cunill. It translates as “In a hasty society, he who walks slowly, walks alone” and I take it as a mission statement for his work.
In issue 42 of the Tactical Room, Perarnau gives us an original interview with Unai Emery. It is an amazing interview and gives us great insight into Emery as a man, tactician, and philosopher. Unfortunately, this work was copied and pasted into a for-profit post on Get French Football’s news site. It’s originally a Spanish language article so why it is on a French football news site?
Well, they stole it from a web site called “CulturePSG” who stole it from Marti Perarnau’s website and published it in French. Interestingly, both sites believe that they are performing some sort of transformative act, making it legal for them to take the works, by simply translating the piece into a different language. I don’t think this is the case. I’m sure that neither site would want me to start copying and pasting their work without links, no matter what language I put it in.
When I first encountered the article, Get French Football’s translation didn’t even link to Marti Perarnau’s site or his twitter and didn’t include a link for where they got the article. They mentioned that Perarnau was the author but that was it as far as attribution. That set off alarms for me that they had done something shady.
So, I googled and found the original article, in the first link.
I called them out on Twitter and they have since added a link to Marti Perarnau’s twitter account (which is incredible since I sent them the link to the original article) and a link to the French language translation (which is their “source”). I’m sure if Marti Perarnau wanted to sue them he could and he would at least win the right to have those articles taken down.
That last bit is actually a huge part of the problem. Suing people over stolen articles like this is expensive and generally doesn’t win you much money. So, the best case scenario is that you play “whack-a-mole” and keep hitting people with DMCA complaints (or similar complaints in Europe) and getting your work taken down off the offender’s web site. It’s a never-ending game for copyright holders. I know, because I’ve had a lot of my work stolen over the years.
I also know why GFF and Culture PSG published their translations: this is a great interview of a manager who has just switched from a small French club to one of the biggest clubs in Europe. As far as I know, there are no English-language interviews that go into as much depth with Unai Emery as this interview does and so it’s a huge click-boon to these sites. I’d bet this is one of the most popular articles on GFF’s site this spring.
As for the interview itself: I purchased a month of access (and I speak/read some Spanish) but I don’t have rights to publish Perarnau’s article here in English. I have reached out to him to find out how much he wants for just such access and I will follow up on this if I hear anything from him. Heck, he should just do an end-around and publish the damn thing on his site, in English, and with links to subscribe to his magazine.
I will say this about the interview: Perarnau shows Emery to be a thoughtful, experienced coach. And he even gives us insight into his coaching methods and philosophies – for example, he has a number of set plays that he introduces to the team and he talks about the importance of the modern defensive midfielder being more than just a sentinel when your team has 70% of the possession. It’s a delicate balance between build-up and running backward!
The full interview is only available via a password protected Spanish language PDF after you purchase access. That means that you can’t just OCR it or copy-paste and have Google translate it for you. Sorry, but until Marti Perarnau releases an English Language version, or sells someone the rights to publish such an article, there’s no access to this article.
Like I said, I take that quote about walking while others run around in haste around you as almost a mission statement. And good for him sticking to it.
*This is an Amazon associates link which pays me a small portion when you shop at Amazon after clicking this link.