Author Topic: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism  (Read 2032 times)

David VanDyke

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Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« on: May 24, 2020, 03:25:35 AM »
...and how a big tradpub house seems to be defending plagiarism and at least one plagiarist.

The shoe seems to be on the other foot, and it's an indication of how corrupt the trades have become. At least in the past, it seemed like they were firmly against plagiarism and they sometimes targeted cheapo "self-publishers" who ripped off work using text spinners.  Now, they're the ones allegedly ripping off an individual author, text-spinning, and publishing, then defending. Really, they should cut loose and go after anyone in their stable of "writers" with so much evidence against them, IMO.

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/pamela-dumond-v-diversion-publishing-corporation-farrah-reilly-simon-schuster-inc-emma-chase-llc-emma-chase-and-simon-and-schuster-inc-case-number-22019cv08922-us-district-court-for-th/
Never listen to people with no skin in the game.

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Those who prefer their English sloppy have only themselves to thank if the advertisement writer uses his mastery of the vocabulary and syntax to mislead their weak minds.

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alyson

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2020, 12:06:51 PM »
When I clicked on the headline link, I thought this was going to be a discussion on the Omegaverse case that's surfaced recently.

A major publisher defending spinning is way more out there than mpreg...

Which I now understand better thanks to reading about the Omegaverse case.

 Heading back to the far safer territory of my zillion unpublished traditional regency romances...

Thank you! Very interesting read, especially the comments.

 
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MonkeyWithAPen

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2020, 08:31:12 PM »
I was curious so I read both the books in this case (the text spinning one, not the Omegaverse one). I really don't see the plagiarism, tbh. The similarities are Cinderella trope staples and pop-culture references, and the kinds of things you'd find in 90% of romance novels featuring that trope. There are a handful of characters with similar names, but they are otherwise very different characters. That's not to say text spinning isn't happening but I find it really hard to believe it happened in this case and I hope that it doesn't ultimately damage the plausibility of potential future cases where it really is happening.
 

RPatton

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2020, 01:17:22 AM »
I was curious so I read both the books in this case (the text spinning one, not the Omegaverse one). I really don't see the plagiarism, tbh. The similarities are Cinderella trope staples and pop-culture references, and the kinds of things you'd find in 90% of romance novels featuring that trope. There are a handful of characters with similar names, but they are otherwise very different characters. That's not to say text spinning isn't happening but I find it really hard to believe it happened in this case and I hope that it doesn't ultimately damage the plausibility of potential future cases where it really is happening.

Most people who have read the books, read the filings, and are actually familiar with Romance think this case is an overreach. You can't copyright a trope, but it won't stop people from trying. As far as attorney's go, Passive Voice is the only one I've found who thinks there's a case here and went as far as calling Chase a plagiarist before a judge had even ruled. I do believe that the books went through the database built during the Nora Roberts/Suerreya case, but can't be commented on yet.
 

JRTomlin

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2020, 03:55:18 AM »
I haven't read the books in question to see if there seems to be plagiarism, but if mentioning four or five of the same objects on the same page as another author is plagiarism a lot of us are in trouble. I can just see Bernard Cornwell suing me because we both have 'horses', 'sword', 'blood', and 'stab in the gut' on a page like a large portion of the Historical Fiction authors out there. 🤦

(Actually no I can't)

Plagiarism is bad, but some of the points in the list seem ridiculous. Then again it's a lawsuit, so that may be par for the course.
 

natasha

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2020, 08:32:23 AM »
It's not just objects - it's story beats as well. I haven't read either books, but looking at the exhibits, it looks as if there're just too many coincidences for Chase to have come up with on her own. I personally think Chase used Dumond's story as source material and then tried to make it her own.
 

MonkeyWithAPen

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2020, 10:01:14 AM »
I do believe that the books went through the database built during the Nora Roberts/Suerreya case, but can't be commented on yet.

Just curious why you believe this is the case? That's one thing I'm wondering. Is there proof this actually happened?


It's not just objects - it's story beats as well. I haven't read either books, but looking at the exhibits, it looks as if there're just too many coincidences for Chase to have come up with on her own. I personally think Chase used Dumond's story as source material and then tried to make it her own.

Do you mean these story beats?


While I don't typically read a lot of Cinderella romance stories, I'm willing to bet that these beats are included in 90% of them. What it leaves OUT is the wild differences, that when I read it left me with the question, "Why in the world would anyone go to all the trouble to plagiarize a book if all they're taking are the smallest, most incongruous pieces?" So small, I'd consider them crumbs that would add no real value to the story.

Chase's book is a straight-up Cinderella story: Poor waitress whose family's cafe/pie shop is on the verge of foreclosure meets the prince who whisks her off to a fantasy land of rich stuff and snobby people (but not until after they've spent a few weeks dating in NYC first). Dumond's story is a "princess switch" story. She doesn't get whisked away by the prince, she gets hired to impersonate his brother's potential fiancée. They have relatively few actual scenes together and she doesn't even know the hero is a prince until more than halfway through the book (and that prince is also not the heir to the throne like he is in Chase's - so what if they're both named "Nick"?)

Dumond's book also only mentions "pie" in a few incidental places, while the Chase book features an actual pie shop, a heroine who bakes pies, and a crisis point at the end of the book that centers on the fate of said pie shop... the pies in that book are not incidental, while they are in Dumond's. Also, I just ate pie and if I were writing a scene with food in it today I might include pie just because pie is awesome, but that doesn't make me a plagiarist. I also have a character nicknamed "Mad Dog" in one of my books, and there's a bar called "Mad Dog's" in Dumond's book, but that also doesn't make me a plagiarist.

I was *maybe* on the fence and willing to entertain the possibility that she had something until I saw the claim that the heroine being named after Lucille Ball in Dumond's vs. the appearance of an old lady named Mrs. McGillicuddy in Chase's is anything close to plagiarism. (Mrs. McGillicuddy was evidently the name of Lucy's mother in "I Love Lucy"). Or that the similarity between "Christoph" in Dumond's (a key secondary character) and "Christopher" in Chase's (a forgettable, completely incidental side character) is further evidence of plagiarism.

I think she's arguing that the text spinning accounts for them not being identical, but considering all the other varied details where the books are vastly different, I find it really hard to believe an author who is willing to take the time to write a book with the level of character development and depth as Chase's, would then sit down and text-spin incidental details (from a much more superficial book, at that) to pepper through the book. Both books were entertaining reads, but to me it was more like eating a snickerdoodle vs. a chocolate chip cookie. Both share some common ingredients, both are cookies, but no one would claim the chocolate chip cookie was a ripoff of the snickerdoodle. (FWIW, the chocolate chip cookie represents the sexier book, because chocolate.)

I'm super curious how this will go. Because at what point does it really constitute a copyright violation? At what point *should* an author be upset about it?

(For the record, these are the first books I have read by either author. I was just super curious about it because I wanted to see if it was plausible for this "text spinning" to really be a thing and whether or not I could tell if it was happening. I also find it fascinating how many people hop on the witch-hunt bandwagon without knowing all the details, so before I chose sides in conversations with other authors I wanted to see for myself.)
 

Nick G

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2020, 11:36:56 AM »
That's wild. I've never heard of text spinning. Seems like the result would be clunky, no? We live in weird times.
 

natasha

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2020, 12:38:29 PM »
I know that similar tropes and motivations will likely lead to similar scenarios like
-heroine needs money because family member has a medical condition and they might get evicted
-heroine gets offered money and then thinks of all the ways she can use the money
-hero offers the position of mistress

It's just weird that in both scenarios, it was because a family member had a breakdown.

I've heard and agree that there are no new stories. It's just the way we tell them that's different, but even the scenes look similar here.
TV interview, etiquette lessons and a makeover, heroine gets shown hero's pictures, hero/heroine get off airplane, heroine gets shown her room, heroine meets queen grandmother, crazy maid threatens heroine, heroine gets her own hashtag, and someone buys out a busines or recipes to save the heroine financially at the end.

The fact that both books have all of these and more seem pretty damning to me.

But at the same time, I feel like Chase wrote her own story. She just saved time and money by copying Dumond's story structure. Another possibility is that she just read this book and started asking questions like
What if instead of this random guy harassing the heroine, the hero does?
What if instead of the heroine getting a concussion, the hero does?
What if instead of the heroine getting drunk, the hero does?
And then just made a story like that.
 

MonkeyWithAPen

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2020, 02:31:13 PM »
Before I read the books, I read through the comparisons and my initial take was how compelling the similarities were, but after reading them both and taking another look I'm just shaking my head because they *don't* really line up despite being similar. I'm convinced the plaintiff saw similarities, assumed it was a copy and then went hunting for details to confirm as much. I think she was told about the text spinning possibility afterward and came to the conclusion that must be what happened. I could be wrong but this seems more like a case of confirmation bias than anything.

The makeover/"learning to royal" are staples of the Cinderella trope. Having a dead loved one is a common trope in romances in general, and someone not responding well to it isn't all that surprising. My entire series plot for my WIP is based on a father reacting poorly to the mother's death and the fallout from his behavior. The "facing financial ruin" trope is so common in mainstream romance it's not funny.

The placement/pacing of these elements that the legal docs enumerate don't actually match up all that well, either. In the rom-com, the entire first act of the book is taken up by the heroine's makeover/etiquette lessons, where she learns how to pretend to be the princess (or the woman who's supposed to marry the prince - Lady Elizabeth). It's all a flashback between chapters 2-8. By contrast, in the sexy book, the heroine is never given etiquette lessons or taught how not to walk like a linebacker, she just gets coiffed and dressed in expensive clothes, and the "makeover" in the sexy book doesn't happen until about 2/3 of the way through the book.

After writing enough books, and reading enough romances, so many of these cliches wind up filtering into our writing whether we like it or not. I have to make a conscious effort NOT to use some of them. I very nearly included a financial ruin plotline in my last book. It was literally the first idea that popped into my head when I was trying to come up with some external conflict for the heroine. It is SO overdone though so I'm glad I came to my senses. But authors who write to market rely on staples like this because they're reliable, easy to write, and the vast majority of readers I think are comforted by having the same story told in a slightly different (but not too different) way. I think a seasoned writer like Chase knows this and can execute it well enough without resorting to copying what amounts to a scattershot of words and phrases from a less successful author's book.
 

JRTomlin

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2020, 02:39:24 PM »
It's not just objects - it's story beats as well. I haven't read either books, but looking at the exhibits, it looks as if there're just too many coincidences for Chase to have come up with on her own. I personally think Chase used Dumond's story as source material and then tried to make it her own.
The only coincidences I found at all surprising was the similarity of names. Most of the ones mentioned are common tropes in romances.
 

PJ Post

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2020, 11:14:37 PM »
Copyright claims are out of control. In the music world it has been suggested that this is a result of the shrinking revenue pie. And while I agree that we need to protect our works, we need to simultaneously be aware that this is a slippery slope. Here's a discussion of one of them:



Katy Perry won the appeal.

And here's another:



If you recall, a while back we had writers trying to copyright specific words. Bad actors, on both sides, seriously complicate matters. At the end of the day, it's not the mega-corporations that need rescuing, it's the creatives.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2020, 11:47:51 PM »

If you recall, a while back we had writers trying to copyright specific words.

You mean trademark specific words, don't you?
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RPatton

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2020, 11:48:35 PM »
I do believe that the books went through the database built during the Nora Roberts/Suerreya case, but can't be commented on yet.

Just curious why you believe this is the case? That's one thing I'm wondering. Is there proof this actually happened?


Claire, the creator of the database, said as much, didn't say for whom she did it (plaintiff or defendant), but did say she couldn't say anything else.

From the exhibits, I don't think Claire did a dump for the plaintiff.

Also... I recommend reading this twitter thread on why PV is probably not the best source (not aimed at Monkey, but anyone else reading this thread). Keep in mind that Milan is an IP attorney and professor who clerked for a Supreme Court Justice... her credentials are well-established. https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/1265661193559015425

And here's another thread - it's a surface commentary, but honestly, better informed and more accurate than PV.

https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/1265371245903704065

Basically, what it comes down to is if you read both books, the exhibits don't follow and you believe it's a reach and not plagiarism. If you only read PV's explanation it's a clear case of plagiarism, full stop. S&S is not going to send an army of attorneys to defend a plagiarism case unless they are certain it's not plagiarism.
 
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PJ Post

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2020, 12:36:54 AM »

If you recall, a while back we had writers trying to copyright specific words.

You mean trademark specific words, don't you?

It may have been, probably was - because, as I recall, it was about book/series titles? But the end result is the same, it's an attempt to control (limit) what creatives are able to do in the future. The first time I remember seeing this was in a suit over the term "Space Marines" brought by Games Workshop.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2020, 12:42:24 AM »
The first time I remember seeing this was in a suit over the term "Space Marines" brought by Games Workshop.

That makes no sense. It's an actual Amazon category name.
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Nick G

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2020, 06:07:36 AM »
Katy Perry won the appeal.

That was absurd. Glad she won the appeal.
 

MonkeyWithAPen

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2020, 02:13:43 PM »

If you recall, a while back we had writers trying to copyright specific words.

You mean trademark specific words, don't you?

I think the copyright discussion applies too. In the Omegaverse case, Addison Cain basically asserted that she created the trope and therefore owned the copyright and Zoe Ellis violated that copyright (I don't know the specific details, but this was the gist). A close friend of mine writes in the same subgenre and was friends with Ellis, so she made a point to read both books and had basically the same takeaway that I did reading Dumond & Chase's books: The similarities are tropes, which can't be copyrighted, not to mention Cain didn't create the trope to begin with.
 

MonkeyWithAPen

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2020, 02:18:00 PM »
I do believe that the books went through the database built during the Nora Roberts/Suerreya case, but can't be commented on yet.

Just curious why you believe this is the case? That's one thing I'm wondering. Is there proof this actually happened?


Claire, the creator of the database, said as much, didn't say for whom she did it (plaintiff or defendant), but did say she couldn't say anything else.

From the exhibits, I don't think Claire did a dump for the plaintiff.

Also... I recommend reading this twitter thread on why PV is probably not the best source (not aimed at Monkey, but anyone else reading this thread). Keep in mind that Milan is an IP attorney and professor who clerked for a Supreme Court Justice... her credentials are well-established. https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/1265661193559015425

And here's another thread - it's a surface commentary, but honestly, better informed and more accurate than PV.

https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/1265371245903704065

Basically, what it comes down to is if you read both books, the exhibits don't follow and you believe it's a reach and not plagiarism. If you only read PV's explanation it's a clear case of plagiarism, full stop. S&S is not going to send an army of attorneys to defend a plagiarism case unless they are certain it's not plagiarism.

Ohh, gotcha. I had a brain fart and thought you referring to text spinning not a database that compared the two books after the fact. And yeah, I saw Milan's tweets. That was when I started reading both books.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2020, 02:20:23 PM »
Addison Cain basically asserted that she created the trope and therefore owned the copyright

Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

For something to become a Trope, it first has to be used a great deal by many authors.

Tropes come into being through overuse, they don't get created.

And since you can't copyright an idea, the first person to use something which later becomes a Trope, can't claim ownership to the Trope.
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She-la-te-da

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2020, 04:58:47 AM »
Quote
“no one owns the ‘omegaverse’ or the various tropes that define ‘omegaverse.’”

This right here is the whole thing of the NYT article. The first author took stuff, now she doesn't want anyone else to take the same stuff. Huh. Better tell all those authors writing basically the same plots and tropes to stop right now! NOW! Because look at any genre, and there's all the same stuff. Readers want this, in fact.

I haven't read all the stuff at TPV link, but going by Courtney's tweets, there's nothing there, move along, case dismissed. It's another thing like above, the "I had {blank} in my book, no one else can use it!", except, it's bad weather? A parent/parents died? A hero thinks about something? Sheesh. I guess she'll come after me next, because I'm pretty sure I've had all of those things in my work.

I wonder what's going to be next? No PA fiction with an apocalypse? No mysteries with a murder? No thrillers with international spies? Oy.
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Nick G

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2020, 08:14:34 AM »
What a waste of money. Lawyers taking these cases on is at least somewhat predatory, no?
 

Eric Thomson

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2020, 08:21:12 AM »
What a waste of money. Lawyers taking these cases on is at least somewhat predatory, no?
Lawyer and predatory in the same sentence is one of the oldest tropes ever.  :ices_angel_g:
 

Nick G

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2020, 02:11:10 AM »
What a waste of money. Lawyers taking these cases on is at least somewhat predatory, no?
Lawyer and predatory in the same sentence is one of the oldest tropes ever.  :ices_angel_g:

You're right. That was a dumb question. :doh:
 

MonkeyWithAPen

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2021, 04:51:13 PM »
Just popping in to update. The case was dismissed...

https://authoremmachase.com/casedismissed/
 

RPatton

Re: Great Passive Voice blog post on plagiarism
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2021, 04:39:28 PM »
Just popping in to update. The case was dismissed...

https://authoremmachase.com/casedismissed/

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