Your Book's Copyright

There have been quite a few new authors lately crying “plagiarism” from their books because they swear someone has copied how a character reacts, the clothing, actions, and/or certain items they believe are unique. Most of these cases aren’t copyright infringement and most authors quickly realize that when someone more experienced in the writing field points it out to them.

For others, the path to discovering their claim of theft of their intellectual property continues, with pervious friends becoming enemies when they don’t support the individual. In fact, everyone who doesn’t fall into line becomes the enemy, despite their clear knowledge on this subject.

One can easily go on the internet and look up copyright infringement and make a decision on whether or not their work was indeed stolen. One problem exists with this assessment. Unless you’re an expert in copyright law, you could potentially make a false accusation and create a great deal of animus regarding your accusations.

If one wishes to study current case law regarding copyright infringement, you only need to look into the case of Rachel Ann Nunes. Ms. Nunes writes Christian based fiction and has been self publishing for quite a while. Three years ago, she discovered another author, Sam Taylor Mullens, had taken one of her best selling works, added graphic scenes, and was selling the book under another title and earning quite a few royalties.

In order to prove plagiarism, Ms. Nunes was forced to prove that a substantial amount of her story had been used by Mullens, but first she had to discover who Mullens truly was. Proving the outright copying of the novel was the easy part. Even though Ms. Nunes wrote in third person and Mullens work was in first person, anyone comparing those two works side by side would soon see that one was a rip off of the other. Since Nunes’ book had been published first, she was obviously the victim of a plagiarist.

The hard part came in identifying Mullens, who it turned out was third grade teacher, Tiffanie Rushton, from a Utah school district. To make matters worse, Ms. Rushton had used the names of some of her students to create fake accounts on social media, to give her books great reviews and attack Ms. Rushton and the bloggers supporting her once the information became public. There are even more things that were done, but they aren’t relevant at this point.

Currently, there is a court case going on, where Ms. Nunes has sued Ms. Rushton for copyright infringement along with quite a few other things. The case was an internet sensation in 2014 when it first broke and brought the problem of copyright theft in an online world out to view. What most have taken away from this case is that the similarities of a small item in a book isn’t copyright infringement. In order to sustain this charge, one must prove that the book is substantially copied and is easily recognizable as their intellectual property by the common person.

An accusation of copyright infringement should be made only after a great deal of investigation is made into exactly what is alleged to have been copied and only if it is proven that the person did indeed copy large amounts of your intellectual property.

If you suspect your work has been stolen, instead of jumping to a conclusion that has happened, enlist the assistance of experts, who can be bloggers that read books for review, to other authors, or your publisher. Let them review the information and either confirm or deny that you are a victim of copyright infringement. 

About the K.C. Sprayberry

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.

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