Fanfiction or Plagiarism? Better Make Sure.

publishing lawsuit gavelA few weeks back, we had a guest post by Kat Cantwell about the ins and outs of writing fanfiction. Now we have word of a cautionary tale that fanfiction writers – in fact, all sorts of writers – might do well to heed.

Trad-pubbed urban fantasy author Sherrilyn Kenyon has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tennessee against fellow author Cassandra Clare. Kenyon’s complaint alleges Clare’s “Shadowhunter” series infringes on the copyrights and trademarks associated with Kenyon’s “Dark-Hunter” series. Kenyon says she learned of the infringement from her fans, and that when she spoke to Clare about it, Clare promised to change her work so that there would be no infringement. What Clare did was to change the term for her demon-fighting warriors from “darkhunter” to “shadowhunter” – and then proceeded to use the new term extensively in promoting her series. Continue reading “Fanfiction or Plagiarism? Better Make Sure.”

It’s Still Copyrighted, Knucklehead

copyright common sense courtesy of pixabaybanana gun suit-673697_640I’m not a lawyer, blah, blah, blah. And while marginally about copyright, this post is really more about common courtesy as well as common sense which someone (Wikipedia claims Voltaire) says isn’t so common. With a hat tip to Voltaire, I sometimes think common courtesy isn’t so common either. Maybe I should explain.

From a strictly legal sense, at least under US law, when you create a work of the kind covered under copyright law, you immediately have a copyright. While most of you think of this in terms of books and short stories, some of my musician friends are thinking in terms of recorded performances and lyrics to songs. Other artists think in terms of other output whether Kat’s photographs (don’t be using those without her permission), or the political cartoon in the Sunday paper, the same concept applies. Continue reading “It’s Still Copyrighted, Knucklehead”

“And Stay Down!”: Tweaking the DCMA

ebook piracyPirate websites are among the banes of the indie author – and of traditionally-published authors, as well. But the Authors Guild, of all organizations, has suggested a fix.

The move comes as the House Judiciary Committee is looking into a possible overhaul of U.S. copyright law. First, the basics: Copyright is different from publishing rights. In the United States, for works created after January 1, 1978, the creator of the work holds the copyright for his or her lifetime plus 70 years. You, as the copyright holder, may sell various types of publication rights – including film rights and foreign language rights – to others. But you’re not selling them your copyright. What you’re doing, in effect, is giving them a license to market the work you created and own. They then share the profits with you.

The difference with a pirate site is there’s no profit-sharing. Continue reading ““And Stay Down!”: Tweaking the DCMA”

How to Remove a Pirate Site from a Google Search

www removing a pirate site from searchI recently wrote a post instructing how and where to send a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice when you find your work has been pirated. My experience has been that this is usually all that’s needed to ensure the offending site removes your content.

Usually, but not always. Some sites, particularly sites based in countries that don’t recognize U.S. Copyright law, may refuse to respond, or in some cases (as once happened with me), may respond to inform you that they don’t have to obey no stinkin’ law. Continue reading “How to Remove a Pirate Site from a Google Search”