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An updated edition of Siya Kolisi: Against All Odds, which was first published before last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, went on sale last month.
After being made aware of it, Kolisi’s wife Rachel took to Instagram to voice her disapproval.
‘Siya has not benefited from this unauthorized book in ANY WAY,’ she wrote. ‘And I would appreciate your help on calling this out for what it is. WHITE MEN benefiting off the back of a BLACK MAN.’
She then went on to call on the publisher, Jonathan Ball, to stop printing the book and for stores to stop selling it.
Jonathan Ball responded by saying the book would remain on sale as they had done nothing wrong.
Nicole Smalberger, a senior lawyer at the law firm Adams & Adams, agreed.
‘People who may not know anything about the publishing industry may have asked themselves if you could write an unauthorised biography, and the answer is yes,’ she told Netwerk24.
‘There is no reason why an author cannot process information that is available in the public domain in book form. In this case, the author [Jeremy Daniel] used available information and interviewed people who played a role in Siya’s life. He was quoted as saying that he had done everything possible to reproduce it correctly.’
Smalberger advised publishers to state on the cover of the book that it is unauthorised, which the updated edition of the Kolisi biography does. The first edition did not.
She said authors should also guard against possible libel, but that this is not the case with the book about Kolisi.
‘There is nothing that gives the impression that it contains any defamatory statements. On the contrary, the author, Jeremy Daniel, described the book as a celebration of Siya Kolisi and said that he was careful to present the facts accurately.’
Smalberger said Kolisi wouldn’t be able to argue that his right to privacy had been violated.
‘Public figures enjoy the benefits of their fame and it is a natural consequence that privacy is compromised by it.
‘In the case of Siya Kolisi: Against All Odds, there is nothing to show that his right to privacy was violated by the publication of an unauthorised biography. The information is largely publicly available or otherwise the result of people the author has interviewed.
‘The biography is simply described as a narrative of Siya Kolisi’s life story, and he is a high-profile person of national importance.’