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suemac
05-27-2009, 07:22 PM
What do I do if I believe my work was stolen? I wrote a Young Adult Fantasy that is different from the ones out there. Last night I finished reading one that is on the best sellers list and it is so like mine that my book is ruined. My book was posted on an author's site for a short time a year and a half ago and now this one comes out. I need to know what I do first to find out if this is just some kind of cosmic event or if my work was really stolen.

willietheshakes
05-27-2009, 07:30 PM
Well, if it's just a matter of overall story idea, themes, etc, there's not much you can do -- you can't copyright an idea.

If there are passages that have been lifted, or that sort of thing... well, maybe there's something there.

Cyia
05-27-2009, 07:39 PM
"Different from the ones out there" isn't the same as "different from the ones in the works". People independently get overlapping "original" ideas all the time (and none of them are original) because people have similar inspirations/experiences. If you could see my "there's no longer a reason to write it" folder, I've got a few sketched out ideas that sound too much like existing current books/TV shows to bother with for a while. It happens.

You said your book was posted about a year and a half ago - that means the author in question would have had to read your posted book, adapt it to their own story, query for it, get an agent interested, the agent would have had to get an editor interested, then it would have to go through the 1-2 years worth of stages for publication...

I know you probably don't want to hear this, but unless you've got verbatim passages that were lifted, assuming theft is a huge and unlikely leap. It's not usually worth it to steal from an unknown author - especially when the source material would have been posted on-line in a public forum where there was most likely a date/time stamp that established when you wrote yours.

What was the book you read last night?

Thump
05-27-2009, 07:41 PM
Well, if you wrote your story a year and a half ago, it's very unlikely the author stole from you. It's almost a certainty that he wrote his book before you because it takes a long time to write a novel (at least a year in most cases), then there's even more time to find an agent, find a publisher and then the publishing process takes about two years from signing the contract to actual publication. Books can be rushed and pushed through publication much faster but this only really happens for books on very current affairs (think books on terrorism after 9-11 or books about Obama...).

It's most likely that you just thought of the same story. I'd say be glad that you thought up something and, while someone else ended up writing something very similar, it sold well. It means you have the potential to write something else (or go on with the current manuscript, there are no two identical stories) that will do well.

Of course, if the published manuscript has pieces clearly lifted from your manuscript, it's a whole other matter. It's a question of whether it's a very similar plot or if it's the exact text you use (or ridiculously close).

victoriastrauss
05-27-2009, 07:45 PM
Since this question doesn't involve agents or agencies, I'm moving it here from Ask the Agent.

Suemac, theft in the book world is pretty rare, and when it happens, usually involves work that has already been published. Also, in your situation, the timing argues against theft. You posted your novel a year and a half ago, but it can take a long time for an author to sell a book, and then a year to two years for the book to get to market. The odds are that the book you just read was already complete and being submitted when you posted your novel--or possibly already contracted for publication.

People can independently come up with amazingly similar ideas, but it's the execution that makes the difference. Even if your ideas or themes are similar to those in another novel, you can distinguish your book the way you dramatize them.

- Victoria

ChristineR
05-27-2009, 07:51 PM
You probably need to consult a lawyer, but the rule is that ideas are not copyrighted, that implementations of ideas are copyrighted. So the author would have to steal major plot points, particular characters, etc. I would recommend making a parallel list of things in the published book that you think were stolen from your book. If it's a very long list, then you might consider showing it to a lawyer. If it's just a one-sentence summary that could apply to either book, then no, it's not illegal, even if the author did see your work.

As others have pointed out, it's unlikely that a book could be written and go to market in 18 months. I think it's possible though--if the author was already signed with the publisher, he could have written the book in a month, then sent it to his editor, who could have moved it to the top of the pile, read it, accepted it, and put it into production in the second month. This is the way J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers do it, but it's the exception, not the rule.

icerose
05-27-2009, 07:52 PM
Several years back I was writing about a young girl who just got accepted to wizard school and who was an orphan because a dark wizard who had previously been destroyed but not completely was making a comeback and had killed her parents. (stop me if you've heard it before). Once she gets to the campus she makes friends with the outcasts and has enemies among the rich wizard kids. They're divided up into four dormatories and there's a magical book even. She goes through her day to day classes while investigating strange happenings with the help of her friends.

Oh and she's really good on a broom.

Imagine my heartbreak when I typed The End and Harry Potter hit the big time. Yeah, it sucks and it happens.

If y ou want to know whether or not your story was stolen, look for similarities beyond plot and charactarizations. Look for passages, dialog, are the scenes in the same order? Those kinds of things. If they aren't, it's more likely the misfortune of not beating the other author to the punch.

Nivarion
05-27-2009, 08:15 PM
Some books take the publishing world by firestorm, but its a rarity. I don't see an 18 month work through on an avarge book.

What was the name of the book, the author how long has it been out?

I mean, An Ice cubes chance in hell may be small but it will still be a cold spot there for a bit, and err, strait ot the point, if there is a chance look into it.

Make a list like Christene suggests. If its long find you a really nasty lawyer, and get ready to fight for it. If it does go to the court room make sure you have copies of your website and stuff.

MacAllister
05-27-2009, 08:20 PM
Unless you find entire paragraphs/pages that are word-for-word from your work, then it's about 99.9999% more likely that it's a cosmic event. And has been pointed out above, the timing suggests VERY strongly that it was developed independently.

Soccer Mom
05-27-2009, 08:22 PM
Yup. I just finished writing a mystery in March. Then I picked up a book I had been anxiously awaiting and read THE EXACT FREAKING END of my story. :( No, this author hadn't copied me. We just both had the same damn idea. sigh. Now I'm rewriting my end completely.

Cyia
05-27-2009, 08:27 PM
As others have pointed out, it's unlikely that a book could be written and go to market in 18 months. I think it's possible though--if the author was already signed with the publisher, he could have written the book in a month, then sent it to his editor, who could have moved it to the top of the pile, read it, accepted it, and put it into production in the second month. This is the way J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers do it, but it's the exception, not the rule.


There's a HUGE difference in supplying the next book in an on-going series (that's already under contract) and shopping an independent title. I'm not sure about JKR, but SM had a 3-book deal, which meant she didn't have to "pitch" each subsequent novel to get an editor interested in it. The publisher already owned them and were expecting them. That changes the timetable.

virtue_summer
05-27-2009, 08:39 PM
I agree with everyone else. I really don't think it's likely your work was stolen. Not only did you say you posted your work for only a short time, meaning there was a short window of opportunity to find it, the author would have had to write and submit and have had the book published rapidly which is unlikely. That's assuming the author visited the site where your story was posted in the first place. It's much more likely that you and the author simply had similar ideas. It happens.

ChristineR
05-27-2009, 08:40 PM
There's a HUGE difference in supplying the next book in an on-going series (that's already under contract) and shopping an independent title. I'm not sure about JKR, but SM had a 3-book deal, which meant she didn't have to "pitch" each subsequent novel to get an editor interested in it. The publisher already owned them and were expecting them. That changes the timetable.

Yes, but the OP didn't say that it wasn't a series under multi-book contract. It seems like most of the YA bestsellers are series.

Zachariah
05-27-2009, 09:24 PM
Well come on Suemac, don't keep us in suspense, what was the book already?

You can't still be secretive about it...

suemac
05-27-2009, 10:19 PM
Thank you for the comments. I think my list will be pretty long. It was difficult to read the book. My book was up on authonomy for a couple of months. I regret it. I guess the only thing to do is go through the book and make a list, but I'm not feeling like I'll get anywhere. Sounds expensive. Still - I think I'll check into it.

It's probably not a good idea to accuse an established author on this site.

profen4
05-27-2009, 10:25 PM
suemac - what is the name of the book??

Williebee
05-27-2009, 10:28 PM
It's probably not a good idea to accuse an established author on this site.

Or anywhere else, for that matter, unless you've got, as mentioned, "chapter and verse" of lifted text.

Look around a bit, though, and you'll find that some folks here at AW are more than willing to call a thief a thief.

Polenth
05-27-2009, 10:33 PM
It's probably not a good idea to accuse an established author on this site.

I'd suggest you tell someone who knows the genre (and doesn't know you). Choose someone and PM them if you don't want to do it publicly. It can be hard to objectively rate the originality of your own ideas.

Kitty Pryde
05-27-2009, 10:37 PM
A lot of the earlier posters mentioned that the only way to know if plagiarism took place would be if there were identical/very similar passages. You can check out some other cases that are considered literary plagiarism. That might help you determine if that's what's actually occurred or not:

Cassie Edwards (http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/a_centralized_document_for_the_cassie_edwards_situ ation/) got dropped by her publisher for plagiarizing various nonfiction sources.

Kaavya Viswanathan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaavya_Viswanathan) was discovered to have lifted passages from a bunch of other published novels. She got dropped by her publisher...and now she's in law school...The link has a lot of helpful comparisons between her work and the plagiarized stuff.

This book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_l%27immortelle) published in Canada turned out to actually be someone else's Highlander fanfic. The original author got a bit of money for his pains.

And Alex Haley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Courlander#Roots_and_the_issue_of_plagiaris m) settled with another author for taking some of the stuff in 'Roots'.

TabithaTodd
05-27-2009, 10:43 PM
I hate to point out these things, just being devil's advocate here:

1. Suemac has all of two posts, one thread
2. Refuses to give the name of the book

In my years of forum use and as an admin\member of other boards, not to mention a free speech board where anything goes. I find it slightly odd those two points I made. Honestly, if it is out right and blatant theft, out the book title and author. No one here (from my short time here) seems very favorable of theft and a wrong doing like that is not tolerated here in the least.

If it's fishing for drama, I'm not saying it is though, I doubt one would get very far trolling AW like that either. It seems both theft and trollery are not tolerated (I mean genuine trollery, not the light hearted banter trollery I've seen in other threads from regs).

TT

brainstorm77
05-27-2009, 10:44 PM
Thank you for the comments. I think my list will be pretty long. It was difficult to read the book. My book was up on authonomy for a couple of months. I regret it. I guess the only thing to do is go through the book and make a list, but I'm not feeling like I'll get anywhere. Sounds expensive. Still - I think I'll check into it.

It's probably not a good idea to accuse an established author on this site.

Smart move.

icerose
05-27-2009, 10:47 PM
I hate to point out these things, just being devil's advocate here:

1. Suemac has all of two posts, one thread
2. Refuses to give the name of the book

In my years of forum use and as an admin\member of other boards, not to mention a free speech board where anything goes. I find it slightly odd those two points I made. Honestly, if it is out right and blatant theft, out the book title and author. No one here (from my short time here) seems very favorable of theft and a wrong doing like that is not tolerated here in the least.

If it's fishing for drama, I'm not saying it is though, I doubt one would get very far trolling AW like that either. It seems both theft and trollery are not tolerated (I mean genuine trollery, not the light hearted banter trollery I've seen in other threads from regs).

TT

I'm actually in favor of the other direction. She should gather her proof and not go accusing willy nilly. I think she's done it the right way, by saying "Crap, I think this has happened, what do I do."

Gets good advice, follows it, gets her proof then, "Yeah, it really sucks, they stole my book, and here's my proof." or "Wow, I really thought they'd stolen my book, but there aren't any specifics and it's not as close as I originally believed."

Birol
05-27-2009, 11:06 PM
I'm not seeing the fishing for drama thing. Sure, Suemac only has two posts, but so what? Lots of new authors turn up on AW seeking advice on various matters. This isn't the first time someone thought an instance of parallel development was theft.

Opinions and advice are two things AW has in abundance. The former will be given to you whether you want it or not and the latter is free for the taking.

I am having fun with all the different potential meanings of Suemac's userid, but that's just me. It's a bit of a slow day in my real life.

seun
05-27-2009, 11:22 PM
A long time ago, I wrote a book about a character called 'God' who created the earth in a week (that was just the prologue), then got pissed off and flooded it. After that, God grew a beard, had a holiday in the Middle East and told everyone to be nice.

Then I found out someone nabbed my idea :rant:

Point is, there aren't any new ideas. Just new ways of using those ideas.

benbradley
05-27-2009, 11:37 PM
It's probably not a good idea to accuse an established author on this site without good evidence.
I just had to fix that for ya.

blacbird
05-27-2009, 11:39 PM
I wish somebody would steal some of my work. That way, at least I'd know somebody considered it worthwhile.

caw

MarkEsq
05-28-2009, 01:18 AM
I wish somebody would steal some of my work. That way, at least I'd know somebody considered it worthwhile.

Soccer Mom
05-28-2009, 01:23 AM
I wish somebody would steal some of my work. That way, at least I'd know somebody considered it worthwhile.

NicoleMD
05-28-2009, 01:35 AM
caw

scarletpeaches
05-28-2009, 01:43 AM
A long time ago, I wrote a book about a character called 'God' who created the earth in a week (that was just the prologue), then got pissed off and flooded it. After that, God grew a beard, had a holiday in the Middle East and told everyone to be nice.

Then I found out someone nabbed my idea :rant:

Point is, there aren't any new ideas. Just new ways of using those ideas.

Meh. I thought the antagonist was more fun.

Zachariah
05-28-2009, 01:46 AM
I'd be almost flattered if someone stole my work, then I'd know had something decent.

TabithaTodd
05-28-2009, 02:22 AM
I said I was playing devil's advocate here, not that I was saying it was trollery. It just struck me as odd is all. Considering it took a few posts from others for her to respond again but I do agree with the "accuse with good evidence" rather than assume.

I, myself, would be honored and consider it a compliment if someone borrowed my ideas personally.

icerose
05-28-2009, 02:25 AM
Not me, anyone stole my work would have to answer to my fist then my lawyer. I don't need someone to steal my work to tell me it's good, I've already been paid for my work. Why would I then want someone to steal something to tell me what I already know? Not to sound all conceited or anything, I just can't handle the idea of someone else stealing my work and then trying to look at it as some sort of a compliment. "Thanks, bastard, now give me all the money and credit that's rightfully mine!" The bastard part is completely determined by temperament. :D

YukonMike
05-28-2009, 02:31 AM
I wish somebody would steal some of my work. That way, at least I'd know somebody considered it worthwhile.

MarkEsq, this is the funniest post I've read on AW ever.

blacbird
05-28-2009, 02:33 AM
MarkEsq, this is the funniest post I've read on AW ever.

I believe somebody has stolen one of my comments.

caw

BlueLucario
05-28-2009, 02:34 AM
I want someone to steal my work. Then I'd bring a Lawyer. And that loser still isn't going to get away with it by saying "She didn't draw her characters, so she's not protected by copyright."

ChristineR
05-28-2009, 02:47 AM
I'd be upset. If somebody stole my car, I wouldn't take it in the same spirit as when someone tells me I have a nice car. Anyhow, I think it's a valid question and the advice on the thread is sound. Even if the OP is some sort of troll, it doesn't matter--ultimately, we have no proof that most of us are actually writing books, you know.

Birol
05-28-2009, 05:21 AM
Not me, anyone stole my work would have to answer to my fist then my lawyer.

Now, now. Lawyer first. If you use the fist first, then they're going to sue you for assault and if they bring up their assault charges against you in your intellectual property case against them, it could make them look sympathetic to the jury.

icerose
05-28-2009, 05:36 AM
Now, now. Lawyer first. If you use the fist first, then they're going to sue you for assault and if they bring up their assault charges against you in your intellectual property case against them, it could make them look sympathetic to the jury.

*Sigh* I'll leave it to the baseball bat after the trial if I lose. :D

Eric San Juan
05-28-2009, 05:50 AM
My book was posted on an author's site for a short time a year and a half ago
As others have pointed out, given this time frame the chances that your book was stolen are very, very, very slim.

It's also worth pointing out that multiple people coming up with very similar ideas at the same time happens all. The. Time. It's not an uncommon occurrence.

DeleyanLee
05-28-2009, 06:10 AM
My first question was whether or not where she posted it protected her copyright & first publishing rights when she posted it. Were there passwords needed to read it? If not, then it's possible her work was in public domain, which might kill claims of stolen property (someone who understands law better might correct me on that).

I know that many sites don't guard the authors' rights as AW does.

Just what came to my mind.

Cyia
05-28-2009, 06:13 AM
Suemac, you seem to have glossed over the time frame - which is suspect for its shortness - and you still haven't told us what this "bestseller" is that you've found similarity with. If you tell us the book's title, you may find out that others are similar to it as well. It happens.

(And you don't have to have a password to read on Authonomy. Anyone can read any full or in progress book posted there.)

Eric San Juan
05-28-2009, 06:14 AM
If not, then it's possible her work was in public domain, which might kill claims of stolen property (someone who understands law better might correct me on that).
Posting your work to a message board does not put it in the public domain. She needs no copyright notice and it need not be behind a password-protected wall. Under copyright law, her work is hers whether or not she posted it on a public website.

Hope that helps.

M.R.J. Le Blanc
05-28-2009, 06:57 AM
My first question was whether or not where she posted it protected her copyright & first publishing rights when she posted it. Were there passwords needed to read it? If not, then it's possible her work was in public domain, which might kill claims of stolen property (someone who understands law better might correct me on that).

I know that many sites don't guard the authors' rights as AW does.

Just what came to my mind.

I believe the accepted standard is 10,000 words before it's considered 'published' online. Plus as someone else said, copyright exists as soon as you start writing/typing the story and your first publishing rights are yours until you either sell them or make too much of your work avaliable for free. Password protected areas are preferrable usually, but posting a sample doesn't automatically mean you lose all your rights :)

It comes up every year on the NaNoWriMo boards, and after eight years you become real familiar with the answers lol

Mel A.
05-28-2009, 07:31 AM
MarkEsq, this is the funniest post I've read on AW ever.
Ditto. Took me a second, but then I nearly fell off my chair.

blacbird
05-28-2009, 11:16 AM
Ditto. Took me a second, but then I nearly fell off my chair.

Alas, my originality has once again gone unappreciated. At least it got plagiarized.

caw

Alitriona
05-28-2009, 12:44 PM
I wrote a story, spent months and months on it. I was midway through editing when a movie came out with scenes and even conversation almost exactly the same. Obviously I couldn't have been copied because I didn't post it and I didn't have access to the script of the movie. I went back and changed the scenes that were similiar.

No original ideas. I remember hearing someone say we live in a matrix and share one mind, we don't create our characters we just channel them :-)

JamesRobertSmith
05-28-2009, 02:13 PM
Generally, the paranoia of someone "stealing" your stuff is just that: paranoia.

However, it does happen. Especially in the comics industry. And sometimes in the field of general prose fiction.

I recently wrote a short article about such an experience (http://tilthelasthemlockdies.blogspot.com/2009/05/ideas-thing.html).

Ken
05-28-2009, 03:32 PM
... generally, too (and I'm not implying this here, by any means) people who are overly concerned about having stuff stolen from them often turn out to be crooks, themselves. Probably some sort of psychological term for this? Some form of projection I suppose.

Eric San Juan
05-28-2009, 05:03 PM
I wrote a story, spent months and months on it. I was midway through editing when a movie came out with scenes and even conversation almost exactly the same. Obviously I couldn't have been copied because I didn't post it and I didn't have access to the script of the movie.

No original ideas. I remember hearing someone say we live in a matrix and share one mind, we don't create our characters we just channel them
Right, this stuff happens all the time. I began developing a specific setting and story years ago, few drafts of an incomplete novel, fairly detailed work on it, etc. The stuff was never posted or shared with anyone, ever. Just something I had tinkered with over the long term. And then, out of nowhere, a comic series sprang up with almost the exact same premise, setting and concept, right down to some of the locations. Lots of parallels with my work. It quickly became a critically-acclaimed series.

Oh well. It happens. Someone else got there first. No big deal. Ideas are a dime a dozen. I'll still look to finish mine some day, in my style and my way. In the meantime, I have others ideas to work on.

People develop similar ideas concurrently. It's not at all uncommon - and really, not something to worry about, either. There is room for more than one player in similar playgrounds. If there wasn't, we wouldn't see a rash of vampire romances right now.

Wayne K
05-28-2009, 05:07 PM
... generally, too (and I'm not implying this here, by any means) people who are overly concerned about having stuff stolen from them often turn out to be crooks, themselves. Probably some sort of psychological term for this? Some form of projection I suppose.

The squeaky wheel is stealing your grease?

Ken
05-28-2009, 05:58 PM
... possibly.

suemac
05-28-2009, 06:02 PM
I think I've stumbled upon a really unique site while frantically looking for answers yesterday. I love the comments, even the one saying that I'm looking for attention. Cute.

The truth is that I don't know the laws in this matter. My work wasn't stolen word for word and it's true that ideas are free to all of us. But! It might catch you off guard if you read a book and the characters and quirks that carry the ideas are your book.

I won't mention this book or author because I don't think it's right.

Ctairo
05-28-2009, 06:28 PM
I think I've stumbled upon a really unique site while frantically looking for answers yesterday. I love the comments, even the one saying that I'm looking for attention. Cute.

The truth is that I don't know the laws in this matter. My work wasn't stolen word for word and it's true that ideas are free to all of us. But! It might catch you off guard if you read a book and the characters and quirks that carry the ideas are your book.

I won't mention this book or author because I don't think it's right.
A unique site? For? You're being vague. We need specifics. Otherwise, yes, you run the risk of people assuming you're here for the wrong reasons. Unless we're on the way to spam. I can't speak for the others, but I'm not interested in being linked to an ad.

Should you wonder if your work is "stolen," you can easily research how to prove it was. You don't need to be a lawyer/know laws to figure that out.

And yes, it's shocking when you feel as though you're the only person on the planet who could come up with X,Y and Z--and someone else beats you to it. But you pick yourself up, you dust yourself off, research--and then either lawyer up or move on.

icerose
05-28-2009, 06:29 PM
I think I've stumbled upon a really unique site while frantically looking for answers yesterday. I love the comments, even the one saying that I'm looking for attention. Cute.

The truth is that I don't know the laws in this matter. My work wasn't stolen word for word and it's true that ideas are free to all of us. But! It might catch you off guard if you read a book and the characters and quirks that carry the ideas are your book.

I won't mention this book or author because I don't think it's right.

Might I suggest you ask for volunteers who are good at spotting these sorts of things? Who could go through both books under confidentiality and confirm whether or not it was stolen or if you just happened to be that unlucky?

That way you don't have your own attachments influencing you and you can have the peace of mind whether or not it was actually stolen.

And you would not believe how much Harry Potter and my book had in common. How many people told me it sounded just like it and it read a lot like it. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but that's the result of there being 7 billion people on the planet and millions of them being or trying to be writers. Stories sometimes collide, even across the ocean. My main character even had a special scar that hurt when the bad guy was around...

Ctairo
05-28-2009, 06:35 PM
And you would not believe how much Harry Potter and my book had in common. How many people told me it sounded just like it and it read a lot like it. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but that's the result of there being 7 billion people on the planet and millions of them being or trying to be writers. Stories sometimes collide, even across the ocean. My main character even had a special scar that hurt when the bad guy was around...
Wow. If ever there was proof of coincidence, there it is.

I feel for you, Icerose. I truly do.

ChaosTitan
05-28-2009, 06:40 PM
I wrote a story, spent months and months on it. I was midway through editing when a movie came out with scenes and even conversation almost exactly the same.


But! It might catch you off guard if you read a book and the characters and quirks that carry the ideas are your book.


Many years ago, I had this cool idea for a screenplay. A man cheated death by avoiding an auto collision that should have killed him. But Death was angry and so the people around him started dying to offset the balance.

I was crushed when Final Destination came out six months later.

It hurts, but it happens. All the time. Ideas are like oxygen. Unfortunately, posting your work on a display site like Authonomy only fuels those feelings of "OMG, someone stole my work!" because who views it is uncontrollable. But that doesn't mean the third party in question has even heard of the display site, much less frequents it and reads unpublished manuscripts in hopes of stealing an idea.

Quite frankly, I have enough ideas rolling around in my head to write books from now until 2025. I don't need to borrow from anyone else.

backslashbaby
05-28-2009, 06:41 PM
My main character even had a special scar that hurt when the bad guy was around...


:eek: Crazy!

Welcome, Suemac :):welcome:

icerose
05-28-2009, 06:41 PM
Wow. If ever there was proof of coincidence, there it is.

I feel for you, Icerose. I truly do.

Yeah, I hold a deep grudge against Harry Potter, not because it's famous, just because it killed my own series. Eventually I'll rework it, but *sigh* a lot of parts have to change. Like everything. It's going to be a whole new story when I'm done.

Eric San Juan
05-28-2009, 06:46 PM
Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic, first published in 1990/1991, featured a young, mop-haired, thick glasses-wearing boy named Timothy Hunter who came to find that he had the potential to be the world's greatest magician. For a time he had a pet owl. Here's what he looks like:

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n11/n55239.jpg

Ring a bell?

When creative people draw from the same well of inspiration, it's not unusual to see similar themes, images and ideas spring up in them.

Gaiman himself addressed the similarities in this blog post (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/04/fair-use-and-other-things.html).

Sage
05-28-2009, 06:52 PM
God, it does hurt. And, icerose, I hold grudges too.

Like, I refuse to watch Kevin Smith's show, Reaper. Why? Because the villain of one of my novels, who calls himself The Reaper, has the same name as the MC of the show and I was just like, grrr, way to spoil my novel.

Then (same novel), I find out that an actress I like has written a YA novel, so I go to find out about it. Imagine my dismay when I see that her novel has death as a business, just like mine did. And the MC was Death's daughter, just like mine. And the entire plot revolves around who's trying to kill Death.

RickN
05-28-2009, 06:56 PM
A unique site? For? You're being vague. We need specifics. Otherwise, yes, you run the risk of people assuming you're here for the wrong reasons. Unless we're on the way to spam. I can't speak for the others, but I'm not interested in being linked to an ad.


The unique website she's refering to is us and our comments.

ChaosTitan
05-28-2009, 06:57 PM
Like, I refuse to watch Kevin Smith's show, Reaper. Why? Because the villain of one of my novels, who calls himself The Reaper, has the same name as the MC of the show and I was just like, grrr, way to spoil my novel.


I always thought "Reaper" bore a striking similarity to "Brimstone," myself. ;)

Tburger
05-28-2009, 06:59 PM
Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic, first published in 1990/1991, featured a young, mop-haired, thick glasses-wearing boy named Timothy Hunter who came to find that he had the potential to be the world's greatest magician. For a time he had a pet owl. Here's what he looks like:

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n11/n55239.jpg

Ring a bell?

When creative people draw from the same well of inspiration, it's not unusual to see similar themes, images and ideas spring up in them.

Gaiman himself addressed the similarities in this blog post (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/04/fair-use-and-other-things.html).


Wow - that's uncanny. Gaiman must have asked himself WTF?

Sage
05-28-2009, 07:00 PM
I always thought "Reaper" bore a striking similarity to "Brimstone," myself. ;)
It definitely does.

The plot of Reaper doesn't resemble my book at all, but the show's title caught my eye when I was reading about upcoming shows the year it came out and did a double take when I read the MC's name.

Tburger
05-28-2009, 07:01 PM
Nevermind - I just read his blog post and he's surprisingly unconcerned.

Manix
05-28-2009, 07:04 PM
Fascinating observations here by Orson Scott Card about JK Rowling's work. I'm not trying to knock JKR--I love the Potter series--but this blurb from OSC did make me think twice. Check it out:

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2008-04-20.shtml

icerose
05-28-2009, 07:07 PM
Neil Gainmen sounds like a straight up guy. I quite like the tone of his blog.

Cyia
05-28-2009, 07:07 PM
It hurts, but it happens. All the time. Ideas are like oxygen. Unfortunately, posting your work on a display site like Authonomy only fuels those feelings of "OMG, someone stole my work!" because who views it is uncontrollable. But that doesn't mean the third party in question has even heard of the display site, much less frequents it and reads unpublished manuscripts in hopes of stealing an idea.


It's highly unlikely anyone is trawling a site like Authonomy for something worth snagging because the quality there is about as regulated as Fanfiction.net. If you dig through everything you might find some amazing pieces, but most of it's unpublishable slush.

I've read some fanfic pieces in one fandom where the authors in question could hold their own against the best writers on the shelves (one in particular could probably have an exceptional career at writing) but you have to skim through dozen of pieces of trash to find the good stuff. I'm willing to do that with a subject I enjoy, but on a display site where the subject can be anyone's guess, it's not worth it.

As far as Authonomy goes, I've looked through a couple of things there - even read 20+ chapters of one of them - but the quality of most of the stuff just isn't worth taking. The rewrites alone would mean anyone out for an easy story would have more work than starting from scratch.


(Those instances of an "original" idea being used elsewhere are extremely common even -and especially - in mainstream books. I'm not bashing Smeyer here, but as an example: she had this idea that because she didn't read books in her genre that all of her ideas would be original and not influenced by others' ideas. In doing so, she hit most of the tropes of the genre and thought they were unique. If she ever reads the competition, she'll find out that other than the sparkles there wasn't much in the way of originality.)

Zachariah
05-28-2009, 07:09 PM
Had a similar experience myself just recently. Posted a flashfic entry (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/3687p0.html), then someone else says they liked it because it reminded them of this film (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0768212/) (which, even more galling, is based on a short story from 1942). I had absolutely no idea this film (or story) existed prior to the comment being posted, and although not exactly the same, there are some pretty incriminating similarities.

Sometimes, I wonder if the universe has nothing better to do than mess with my head.

RickN
05-28-2009, 07:11 PM
Back when "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone" came out, my kids went gaga. I spun into action and whipped out a few pages of "Harry Pooter and the Wizard's Rock" as 'proof' that she stole my work. We plotted to sue her for millions using some special 'lawsuit software' on my PC, but somehow nothing ever came of the suits. After every subsequent book, I'd look outraged at the latest theft and my kid's would yell to "Fire up the lawsuit software!" and the plotting would begin anew.

I'd played this game with every book they've liked, expounding upon my brilliant version compared to the 'horrible' bestseller. But Harry Pooter, he was the first.

My personal motto is "Never let facts get in the way of a good story."

Eric San Juan
05-28-2009, 07:11 PM
Neil Gainmen sounds like a straight up guy. I quite like the tone of his blog.
He is. His blog is always a nice read, and Gaiman himself comes across as a very grounded person. He very much seems to "get it." He's a great example of a writer who found stardom yet kept a level head.

DeleyanLee
05-28-2009, 07:11 PM
Sometimes, I wonder if the universe has nothing better to do than mess with my head.

Now that you've noticed, the universe is going to change its tactics. You know that, right? ;)

Tburger
05-28-2009, 07:12 PM
Had a similar experience myself just recently. Posted a flashfic entry (http://www.sffworld.com/community/story/3687p0.html), then someone else says they liked it because it reminded them of this film (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0768212/) (which, even more galling, is based on a short story from 1942). I had absolutely no idea this film (or story) existed prior to the comment being posted, and although not exactly the same, there are some pretty incriminating similarities.

Sometimes, I wonder if the universe has nothing better to do than mess with my head.


Thief!!!!! ;)

MelodyO
05-28-2009, 07:17 PM
Wow, Orson Scott Card is a bit of a dink, isn't he?

I just wanted to say to the OP not to despair, as the reason the same ideas come up again and again is because they strike a chord with people. Some plots and themes will never be too much of a good thing because people never get tired of them. So try to rework your novel to get rid of or diguise the similarities to the bestseller and try, try again.

Ctairo
05-28-2009, 09:26 PM
The unique website she's refering to is us and our comments.
D'oh! This is what happens when a poster brings the vague. :tongue

Tburger
05-28-2009, 09:37 PM
Wow, Orson Scott Card is a bit of a dink, isn't he?

I don't know if he's a dink, but i have to admit that I've read both Ender's Game and Harry Potter (and enjoyed them both). But I never - EVER - said to myself that those are the same stories. Never even thought they were close. A kid with special talents, hard childhood, get's recognized for said talents and wins the battle.

Isn't that a pretty common plot evolution in many books?

Now when you compare Gaiman's books, especially the cover of that one, then I think the similarity to Harry Potter is bizzare.

virtue_summer
05-28-2009, 09:37 PM
Fascinating observations here by Orson Scott Card about JK Rowling's work. I'm not trying to knock JKR--I love the Potter series--but this blurb from OSC did make me think twice. Check it out:

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2008-04-20.shtml

I like Card's fiction but in interviews and such he never does come off to me as a very nice person. At the link you provided he starts off okay, then he delves into name calling and attacking Rowling for not including Dumbledoor's sexuality in the books (ridiculous as the books weren't about that) as if an author is obligated to include every last detail of every character in a story. Nope. Just doesn't fly with me. Only thing it makes me think is "how can a man whose novels show such humanity display so little in his nonfiction?"

aadams73
05-28-2009, 09:46 PM
The truth is that I don't know the laws in this matter. My work wasn't stolen word for word and it's true that ideas are free to all of us. But! It might catch you off guard if you read a book and the characters and quirks that carry the ideas are your book.


Sit down, write something new, and keep it to yourself until it's ready to be submitted. That's all you can do really.

blacbird
05-28-2009, 09:55 PM
I like Card's fiction but in interviews and such he never does come off to me as a very nice person. At the link you provided he starts off okay, then he delves into name calling and attacking Rowling for not including Dumbledoor's sexuality in the books (ridiculous as the books weren't about that) as if an author is obligated to include every last detail of every character in a story. Nope. Just doesn't fly with me. Only thing it makes me think is "how can a man whose novels show such humanity display so little in his nonfiction?"

Orson Scott Card is well-known as a fundamentalist Christian social conservative, and unfortunately this aspect of his belief system seems to emerge from time to time as a strong personal streak of intolerance.

caw

Manix
05-28-2009, 10:09 PM
I like Card's fiction but in interviews and such he never does come off to me as a very nice person. At the link you provided he starts off okay, then he delves into name calling and attacking Rowling for not including Dumbledoor's sexuality in the books (ridiculous as the books weren't about that) as if an author is obligated to include every last detail of every character in a story. Nope. Just doesn't fly with me. Only thing it makes me think is "how can a man whose novels show such humanity display so little in his nonfiction?"

I have to agree with you there. He does seem a bit over-the-top about his indignation. He has such an acidic, biting sarcasm, but I do think it's probably for the sake of publicity. Controversy stirs up discussion like nothing else.

geardrops
05-28-2009, 10:33 PM
Fascinating observations here by Orson Scott Card about JK Rowling's work. I'm not trying to knock JKR--I love the Potter series--but this blurb from OSC did make me think twice. Check it out:

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2008-04-20.shtml

The problem here is OSC is comparing two works of fiction with clearly different universes but a similar high concept. Lexicon was explicitly borrowing material from the Potter series and arranging it in a manner that is easy to reference. Apples and oranges.

It's like comparing the "infringement of ideas" between Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and someone independently publishing the specs of the Millennium Falcon.

In any Introduction to Informal Logic class, we would call this a weak analogy.

ETA: (Not to mention the Attacks Ad Hominem, Straw Man, Appeal to Consequences, Slippery Slope...)

ETA: In light of all the author-bashing threads, how about we just keep to critting his arguments and not him as a human, yeah?

Manix
05-28-2009, 10:36 PM
I think it was meant as sarcasm--meaning you could stretch anything to make it appear that way, if you tried hard enough.

BlueLucario
05-28-2009, 11:07 PM
I think it was meant as sarcasm--as if no one in their right mind would think he actually copied JKR, but you could stretch anything to make it appear that way, if you tried hard enough.
Um...that was already tried.

BlueLucario
05-28-2009, 11:10 PM
You do realize that one of OSC's books are similar to the first book of the Harry Potter series, right?

EFCollins
05-28-2009, 11:39 PM
My father-in-law and I wrote a novelette together. He is a YA writer, I'm a horror writer. Our combined styles made for a very interesting tale. Imagine my chagrin when the movie "Mirrors" came out... only for me to find out that it was an adaptation of a Korean movie called "Into the Mirror" from 2003. Mine and Greg's original story turned out to be not so original. The thing about it was that as alike as our story and the films were, they were also glaringly different.

In Lisey's Story, Stephen King's character refers to the "pool where we all go down to drink". The word pool or idea pool, it's a true thing. And the same. I call it the human element. There are similar ways of thinking, feeling, images. The common denominator. That doesn't mean we are all the same... but experiences that color our imaginations and mind sets are.

I'm sure there is another insomniac mother of three, who had all her children before she was twenty, who is scared of heights and the dark but not ghosts and demons, who is an Atheist and drug addict, and she writes horror. I bet anything there is. And, I bet anything she and I write similarly. Not because we know each other and copy. But because our lives run on a parallel that neither of us know about or understand. Our experiences in life are so similar in fact or theory, that we might not only write alike, but have the same ideas. But-- our delivery is not the same. Maybe she finished high school, whereas I didn't. People are different as much as they are the same. It's that human element. We can't discount that, no matter how much we want to.

Manix
05-29-2009, 12:09 AM
This is true EFC. My brain got muddled or I was in a fog or something during my last post and I forgot who I was talking about.

Anyway, Orson Scott Card seems to be an opinionated, outspoken individual. I hope no one thought I was saying I agreed with him.

I have no opinion about the JKR lawsuit, and I love both authors equally.

Ender's Game (published way back in 1985) was awesome, as was its sequel Speaker for the Dead.

I also stood in line for the last book of the Potter series on opening night with about 1000 other geeky fans, to get one of the first copies. I read it cover to cover, literally non-stop, from the moment I got home at 1:30 am until 4 pm the next day. (yeah, I am a geek and SFF nerd):tongue

I don't see any similarities between OSC's work and JKR's. That's why I said I think he was just being sarcastic. That's all I'm saying. He uses a lot of sarcasm but I'm not sure he has any personal vendetta against her. I don't know. Maybe he does. I can't imagine he has anything to gain by bashing her, expect perhaps publicity. Several people I've read have noted how he seems to have become a different person than the compassionate Ender character who typified Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead and I tend to agree.

But then, OSC is not Ender. Ender was a character in his book. Maybe he never wanted to be Ender and his true colors are showing now for the person he truly is.

JamesRobertSmith
05-29-2009, 12:41 AM
This is true EFC. My brain got muddled or I was in a fog or something during my last post and I forgot who I was talking about.

Anyway, Orson Scott Card seems to be an opinionated, outspoken individual. I hope no one thought I was saying I agreed with him.



Orson Scott Card is an extremely talented writer. That said, he's a hate-mongering cultist.

Christine N.
05-29-2009, 03:43 AM
Go look up Diane Duane. She's been writing Young Wizards for a 25 years, long, LONG before Harry Potter came out. She's a bit bitter over it, but has basically learned to live with it.

Some still accuse Jane Yolen (yeah, I know, right?) of ripping off HP for her Wizard's Hall, despite the fact WH came out about a decade before HP.

Cyia
05-29-2009, 03:57 AM
Some still accuse Jane Yolen (yeah, I know, right?) of ripping off HP for her Wizard's Hall, despite the fact WH came out about a decade before HP.


This is something that bugs me especially with TV or movie adaptations of things. Fans of the show have an odd habit of attributing originality to their shows no matter when the idea was first posed.

Charlane Harris had Sookie (a telepath who fell for the one person whose mind she couldn't read) years before Twilight, yet Twi-Tweens cry foul over True Blood because they think it stole the idea from Edward's situation with Bella. (Just like the Black Dagger Brotherhood had a broody vampire in love with "Bella".)

BDB also had a vamp in love with a reporter named Beth - which Moonlight fans seemed to think was a rip off of their show... just like they thought the Vampire PI aspect in Blood Ties was copy-catting, but Henry hit the shelves a decade before Mick was on TV.

I was in a Blockbuster store a while back and saw someone reading the back of an old Allan Quartermain movie. The guy beside him tells him the movie's "not bad for a total Indiana Jones rip-off".

*head/desk*

Alitriona
05-29-2009, 04:46 AM
I always thought the idea behind the Maximum ride series and the tv show Dark Angel were very alike. Mutant kids being experimented on and escaping to go on the run from the military. Even same main character name.

Wayne K
05-29-2009, 04:52 AM
I like when people use my little phrases--I catch the wife doing it all the time, I've seen people do it here actually. I used to post on a different message board and to this day they still use one of my jokes.

Pagey's_Girl
05-29-2009, 05:46 AM
Someone in RL read part of my WIP and dismissed it an "An HG Wells ripoff, huh?" After reading the story in question (again - read it years ago) I've decided the island setting is the only real similarity.

There was also a cartoon is the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago that could have been a spoof on my WIP. I have it on my little corkboard because it's pretty funny.