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gomideast
12-03-2005, 12:23 AM
A family member of mine has self-published a book (about 6-7 years ago) and it did very well in its genre (non-fiction, historical based).

This family member noticed a best-selling contemporary author's book had lifted an entire section from his book, word for word. This best selling author is published by a major book publisher and has one of his books being turned into a movie this winter.

My family member expressed concern about the plagiarism to the publisher and they responded that they would pretty much bury him in legal fees to make his case not even worth his while and that he shouldn't bother pursuing a copyright infringement against them.

Anyone got any ideas about what to do?

Thanks!

roach
12-03-2005, 12:45 AM
Have your family member consult a lawyer.

No really. In a situation here s/he's going to need the advice of a lawyer who specializes in the publishing field.

gomideast
12-03-2005, 02:34 AM
Thanks Roach, we actually did and the lawyer said the publisher was probably right.

It just seems so darn unfair ! Especially because the book is so popular right now and it contains multiple other sources that are quoted and cited.

kathompson
12-03-2005, 03:34 AM
Find a better lawyer... Seriously. If the author can prove the work was stolen, a good lawyer will take the case on contingency and let the publisher wind up paying his fees.

scarletpeaches
12-03-2005, 03:49 AM
Set fire to the other author's house.

veinglory
12-03-2005, 03:57 AM
How many consecutive words, presumably saying something fairly unique? It just seems weird that a best sellinbg author would do that. i mean even if you can;t win in court a strictly factual web campaign alone would embarass them.

three seven
12-03-2005, 03:59 AM
I'm with Scarlet. If the threat of legal action doesn't do it, napalm usually will.

roach
12-03-2005, 04:14 AM
Thanks Roach, we actually did and the lawyer said the publisher was probably right.

It just seems so darn unfair ! Especially because the book is so popular right now and it contains multiple other sources that are quoted and cited.

Did you consult a lawyer who is familiar with Intellectual Property law and the publishing field? This is important as a real estate or criminal attorney won't be familiar with the variences of those two fields.

maestrowork
12-03-2005, 04:26 AM
Get a better lawyer. And publicize this....

It's not about money. It's not about fame. It's about integrity and prinicipal. If a multi-published well-known author plagiarized, he/she should be exposed. I'm disheartened to hear the publisher saying things like "we can bury you..." instead of getting to the bottom of this. I can't believe they would condone their authors to plagiarize and threaten another author... I can understand they may be scrutinizing your relative's "claim" but to disregard the whole thing is uncouth.

Mike Coombes
12-03-2005, 05:03 PM
It's not about money. It's not about fame. It's about integrity and prinicipal.

That is so short-sighted. Of course it's about money. What else?

It's a sad fact that justice is most accessible to those that can best afford it, and in cases like this yes, they have the resources to string a case out over years. That's all they have to do. Delay, because every day your lawyers cost you money, and you don't get anything back until you get a judgement in your favour. It's pretty common, I've done this to others and been faced with it myself (not in publishing!).

Some lawyers may take it on a no-win no-fee basis, but they'll have to look long and hard at the economics.

one other thing - exposing the writer could concieveably backfire. If you defame his character (even legitimately without the legal muscle to back it up) you could be sued.

veinglory
12-03-2005, 10:47 PM
Justice via the courts, perhaps. But a writers and publishers need public good will -- so as long as the facts are sound justice via the blogs and media could hit them in the pocket.

James D. Macdonald
12-05-2005, 06:39 PM
Plagiarism is a serial offense. I'm betting this author has done it before, and will do it again.

gomideast
12-05-2005, 10:13 PM
Thanks for all the support!

And anger! I am angry too!

My relative's lawyer said it wasn't worth the "possible" 150,000 maximum because of the potential to lose the case to much more.

The whole thing stinks. And the author also used the plagiarized section to disparage my relative's book (which was based on another relative!).

FolkloreFanatic
12-06-2005, 06:47 AM
If you have a copy of the books in hand, it's blatant, and it's provable, I would seek a second opinion before giving up so quickly. While I do think it's naive to claim that this is 'about principles' (it's definitely more about the money), this guy is getting famous off your relative's hard work, and I think he could win if what you've said is accurate and if this plagiarist is successful enough to make his book into a film.

Let me emphasize that: ESPECIALLY if his book is likely to become a major motion picture. My wounded pride would be enough alone to go after this prick, but I think from your description that you need to ask an intellectual property lawyer what s/he thinks.

Vuligora
12-19-2005, 01:08 AM
I say you post the author's name, his book, and your relative's book and the section plagerised and we all unleash posting hell on all sorts of forums and our websites and bury the a**hole under his own manure!

DaveKuzminski
12-19-2005, 07:33 PM
I suspect the publisher stated they'd bury you with case costs as a bluff. Get some advice from a good intellectual property lawyer. Then decide whether to take them to court.

Jaws
12-20-2005, 06:59 PM
I say you post the author's name, his book, and your relative's book and the section plagerised and we all unleash posting hell on all sorts of forums and our websites and bury the a**hole under his own manure!
Don't do this without getting legal advice first. It may give the publisher certain defenses you don't want to give away, and it will start the clock running on certain short-statute-of-limitations claims available under some states' laws.

cool_st_elizabeth
12-20-2005, 08:29 PM
This family member noticed a best-selling contemporary author's book had lifted an entire section from his book, word for word. This best selling author is published by a major book publisher and has one of his books being turned into a movie this winter.

My family member expressed concern about the plagiarism to the publisher and they responded that they would pretty much bury him in legal fees to make his case not even worth his while and that he shouldn't bother pursuing a copyright infringement against them.
Retaining an attorney is good advice. Your family member needs to find out who the best-known attorneys are in the field of intellectual property, and hire whoever is the most expensive by the hour ... the attorney may not even have to do much of anything, since his/her name alone might be enough to scare the "big publisher" into acquiescence.

Jaws
12-21-2005, 08:40 PM
Retaining an attorney is good advice. Your family member needs to find out who the best-known attorneys are in the field of intellectual property, and hire whoever is the most expensive by the hour ... the attorney may not even have to do much of anything, since his/her name alone might be enough to scare the "big publisher" into acquiescence.
I can't entirely agree with this. "Most expensive" merely selects for "has an office in NYC or LA," not for who is most appropriate. There's an excellent chance that the case would be heard somewhere other than NYC or LA—I won't bore you with the technical details—so one might need a lawyer from somewhere else anyway. Firm size matters a great deal, too; all other things being equal, an attorney in equivalent ownership position at a large firm charges more per hour than does one at a small firm, meaning that the difference is probably going toward overhead.

Then, too, IP attorneys tend to charge more on an hourly basis than just about any other single civil-law field (just as white-collar-crime-oriented defense counsel charge more per hour than those who defend petty criminals or even drug lords). And, on top of that, IP is much more prone to conflicts of interest than most civil-law fields… and if all of the most-expensive attorneys are conflicted out, that does not mean they'd be "better" or "better choices"!

ResearchGuy
12-24-2005, 05:52 AM
...This family member noticed a best-selling contemporary author's book had lifted an entire section from his book, word for word....
Thanks!
Did the family member register the copyright? Cannot sue without registration. Timely registration (at time of the initial publication) helps. If the copyright registration step was neglected, it may be tough beans. I see that some good ideas have been posted ... but I did not notice a comment on that particular point.

--Ken

veinglory
12-24-2005, 07:19 AM
Registration is only required for cases based in the USA. Most other countries will accept any reasonable evidence of copyright.

September skies
12-24-2005, 08:18 AM
And don't forget hometown newspapers. We would love a story like this. Especially if your family member can prove it (aka- has the published book with the copyright year) and can show the reporter where it was taken from and then show it on the "new" book (at a much later date)

Go with hometown paper first -- they'll love it. And it may get picked up as an AP story (tell them that, we love having our small stories picked up - it's big for us) and if it's getting turned into a movie - it IS a big deal.

If you're already in a large city and have a large newspaper - try it anyway. (though I've always had better luck with the smaller papers)

I can't imagine you breaking any law by bringing it up to the newspapers. Let them make a big deal about it for you.