Questions about plagiarism and copyright

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by blubttrfl, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. Lightman

    Lightman Active Member

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    If OP lives in the US, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, not the defendant.
     
  2. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Exactly, Trish!! That's how I feel. If she wants to sue me, fine. I have the dated letters that prove my manuscript hit the publisher five years before her book came out. And I don't know anyone who works in publishing.
     
  3. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Hello, Lightman. My list of similarities is so strong that none of the attorneys I met with were worried about proving how this author got hold of my manuscript. But the PI did find the link anyway.
     
  4. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Question: If you're so confident of your evidence, why haven't you sued her already?
     
  5. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For most civil actions, true. Libel is the exception.
     
  6. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Minstrel, I tried to sue her for four years. I saw half a dozen attorneys. They all said the same thing. It cannot possibly be a coincidence that two stories have so many similarities. Unfortunately, none of them would take my case on a contingency basis since we'd be going up against such big names in the publishing industry. I guess if you're poor, you don't deserve justice.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Remember that this will still be true if you get sued for libel/slander. It doesn't matter so much if they'd _win_ the case - they can still bankrupt you just with the lawsuit, and there is no assurance whatsoever - _none_ - that you would get your costs back. So, you really do need to care whether they sue.
     
  8. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Thanks for writing, Chickenfreak. I still don't know much about the law. If the writer sued me, do you know what I would have to pay for? (Hopefully, you agree with the old saying, "There are no dumb questions.")
     
  9. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    New idea. I talked to a New York copyright infringement lawyer yesterday and told him about my case. He was very intrigured. He requested my list of similarities, which I emailed today. Hopefully, he'll get back to me early next week. I'll post an update for anyone who is interested. If he says I have a strong case (like the L.A. attorneys all said), but he won't be able to take my case on a contingency basis, I'd want to provoke the author to sue me. This was my plan until I read Chickenfreak's response!! Now I'm worried this plan could backfire on me.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't understand how this would work. If you can't get a lawyer to take the case, you can't get a lawyer to take the case. The fact that you're sued won't force a lawyer to take the case; you'd still either be undefended, or have to spend a great deal of money for defense--lawyers are very expensive. It's a little bit like saying, "I couldn't get a contractor to remodel my house for the price I wanted, so I decided to demo my kitchen myself." The fact that something has been destroyed doesn't mean that a professional is now obligated to come in and fix it.

    Maybe you're assuming that you'd be entitled to a public defender, at no expense to yourself? I think that that works only in criminal cases.

    (And, no, I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think I'm wrong that legal wrangling is very, very expensive.)

    (Edited to change my example.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
  11. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    I hear what you're saying, ChickenFreak. So how do I receive justice? Why should this fraud get away with stealing another writer's story and profitting from it? I'll never be able to get my own novel published. Anyone who read it would immediately think of this other author's book and think I copied from it. I'd never be taken seriously. Being poor shouldn't mean I'm another person's floormat, you know? I worked so hard on that story. It kills me that someone else is benefitting from all that hard work.
     
  12. idle

    idle Active Member

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    Careful, @mammamaia, you're the first one to mention a name in this thread...
     
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  13. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    I think we need to be a little more careful here. OP has been very careful to leave details out, for that reason exactly. Now, OP's efforts are for naught since you feel the need to set up exactly what you claim to be concerned about. Someone needs to delete the majority of that post, whether it's you or a mod. Sorry, but that's not right Mamma.
     
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  14. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Holy cow!! Someone with the power needs to delete that!! Yikes!
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    It seems to me that you think that this situation has money in it, somewhere, if you could just prove it. But there's no assurance of that. Even if you can prove plagiarism, prove that someone took your ideas, that doesn't mean that you can prove copyright violation, enough to actually receive damages.

    Just as an example, not directly relevant to your situation: copyright has an exception for what's called "useful objects". Clothing is a useful object. This means that if Person A designs a beautiful evening gown, and Person B steals that design, markets it, and sells it, Person A probably can't get a penny out of sueing Person B. If they say that Person B stole their design, and Person B sues them, and Person A defends themselves, Person A may well win that suit. But there's no money to be had; copyright does not provide for Person A getting any damages.

    Yes, you're not talking about clothing designs. But all those lawyers refused to take your case. That says to me that odds are that there is likely not any money to be had. I don't know why, and I don't speculate as to why, but if a professional whose purpose is making money won't take your case, odds are that there isn't any likely money in it.

    So you're down to principle.

    How much of your life, and how much money, are you willing to spend for this principle? You feel that you've lost something; how much more are you willing, are you determined, to lose?

    I think that you're trapped in the sunk cost fallacy.

    Minor sunk cost fallacy example: You spent more than you could afford on a car. The car breaks down, and you learn that it will cost far more to fix than a better car would cost. You feel driven to spend the money to fix it, because you already spent so much. So you end up spending the price of three cars when you could have spent the price of two. Sure, it's not fair that you had to spend the price of two cars to get one car, but the point is that you had a loss, and you chose to lose even more rather than walk away.

    You wrote a book. You put a lot of hours into it. Now you can't use that book. So you're spending more and more and more hours trying to put that fact right. But all those lawyers who turn down your case mean that odds are that you're not going to be able to put it right. You've lost time, and frustration, and hours that you probably could have put into writing another book.

    And now you're making plans to lose even more, to induce someone to sue you, so that you have to spend even more time and money defending yourself. You might not have enough money to see that lawsuit to the end. Even if you did, and even if you won, that would just mean that _you_ wouldn't have to pay _them_ any damages. You'd probably still have to pay your lawyers, tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    You feel that something was taken away from you. How much more are you going to give away?

    I know that it's hard to let go when you feel that you've been wronged. I know that the thoughts chew at you, come up over and over and over, that you keep speculating and re-speculating about what you might have missed, what might make all this work out.

    I'm recommending that you change your goal. I'm suggesting that your new goal be learning to let go of the old goal.

    I know that you think that you can't. I say, all the same, try. Take specific actions toward the goal of letting it go.

    Put away your book, and the other person's book, and the lists of similarities, and the correspondence from the lawyers, and every last little thing that makes you think of this issue, down to the lawyers' numbers on your phone and the bookmarks on your computer. If you can't bear to throw it away, then pack it all into boxes, and seal them, and put them far, far out of sight. And push away every last thing that enters your life that makes you think of this issue. Keep doing that, and wait. Wait while hopefully you think of this issue less and less often. Maybe you'll think of it a thousand times a day the first week of this "fast", and only a hundred times a day six months later, and maybe only a few times a week six months after that.

    I don't know whether to suggest that you immediately sit down and write a new book, or if the act of writing will just keep the issue alive in your mind. If it will, then do something else to consume your mind. Take up weaving, or conversational French, or homemade dim sum, or ballroom dancing.

    You think that you've been stolen from. _Stop_ chasing the person that you see as the thief down the street trying to force them to take more and more and more from you. Walk away with what you have and build something new. You still have the mind that wrote your original book. Keep it and use it, instead of struggling so hard to give even more of its time and resources away.

    I know that it sounds impossible. I say try it anyway.
     
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  16. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I deleted mammamaia's post as per your request and the warning idle and Trish gave. Sorry, mamma.
     
  17. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Thanks, Minstrel. I owe you one.
     
  18. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Can whoever read mammamaia's post please keep it under your hat? Thank you.
     
  19. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks, minstrel!...

    i can't believe i did that... i've been discussing this with the op privately in emails so often lately, that it just slipped out... an idiotic brain glitch!...

    hope it was only a moment of stupidity and not a 'senior moment' heading me down alzheimer's way... bless all of you for catching it so quickly and getting it taken down... you're a caring bunch and a credit to the site... i'm deeply in your debt...

    ditto ww's request... i'm sure you all care enough for the op's welfare to do that... just wish some alarm had gone off when i typed the verdamnt letters...

    love and abashed hugs, maia
     
  20. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    Thanks for your post, ChickenFreak. You have some great advice here. I know the healthiest thing I can do is let this go and move on to another novel. I have written more than just this one. If I put as much energy into writing as I have in bringing this author to court, I would have a wonderful novel to possibly publish.
     
  21. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good news, team!

    i just googled to check and it seems you all caught it before google's crawler could, so it's gone forever... bravo!
     
  22. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    That's okay, Mama. We all make mistakes. Like I said, it's easy to forget when something is private and when something is public. And we have been corresponding a lot. :)
     
  23. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ChickenFreak is wise.

    I came across a quote the other day. I don't remember who said it, so forgive me for that, but it went something like: "The only person you should try to get even with is someone who helped you." I like that.
     
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  24. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's great advice to follow, whether it's verbatim, or not!

    and thanks for being so understanding, ww...

    love and hugs to all, m
     
  25. word whisperer

    word whisperer Member

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    That's awesome, Minstrel. I need to write that one down! :)
     

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