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J Singh

examples of plagiarism

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Hi, all not sure if this is the correct thread to asking this question as it is my frst post, but i found it to be the most relevant as i do have access to the writers thread.

 

I am just getting to writing and would like to know if there are any living good writers that have had their work plagiarized knowingly and accepted as there seems to be many cases where one author sues another? Also is lagerism accepted upto a certain point where there is an obvious line where one should not pass and thus keeps thier work unique.

 

Many thanks in advance for your prompt reply to my first questions here.

J Singh

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Are you thinking of plagiarism in story lines or actual words?

 

There is no copyright for titles or plot lines, however your words are copyright as soon as you write them even if they aren't published (I'm talking about UK law here, I believe that US law is much the same). Well known authors often complain about other writers borrowing their plot lines and tweaking them just slightly to make them appear different, there was a notable case in the States where a writer of romances found her plots and words had been lifted wholesale with the female character turned male so it was gay romance. That was a fairly open and shut case, others are not quite so clear.

 

Another case a few years ago where a new writer who had a big publishing contract was found to have paragraphs very close to another author in the same field. Her contract was cancelled, the book pulped.

 

So you can write a book inspired by Jack Reacher with a loner hero who goes around sorting criminals and generally being superman and providing you don't follow the exact same plot arc and don't copy the words it won't be plagiarism, legally, but if it's too close the reader will feel that it's utterly unoriginal so the book will bomb. 

 

However there are only seven basic plots so all novels have similarities with something that has already been written (with the exception of a few very strange ones!) Jack Reacher for instance follows a long line of loner superman heros, it was the way that Lee Child wrote him that made him so different.

 

All writers absorb the odd phrases and words from other writers, we're encouraged to write good phrases down in our note books and it's inevitable that they'll pop up from our unconscious sometimes and we'll assume that they are ours. That isn't plagiarism, plagiarism is using whole paragraphs and it is never acceptable.

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Thanks for the detailed reply, what about if for example we take superman and another comic writer creates another hero with similar characteristics like x-ray vision, super hearing, optical beams, faster than light, bullet proof, gets his energy from the sun had a red cape....etc, but had blonde hair or no hair at all. That would be blatant plagarism and I take it, it also is never acceptable???

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Shakespeare was a pretty bad plagiariser. He rarely worked out any of his own plots.

Some people have pointed out that 1984 by George Orwell has similarities to a book called We by a Russian writer whose name began with Z. There were some similarities, but they were also quite different.

J K Rowling was not the first writer to think about a wizard school. Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series was set in a wizard school. I expect the Harry Potter stories are still quite different, although I have not read any.

 

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23 minutes ago, KEV67 said:

 

Some people have pointed out that 1984 by George Orwell has similarities to a book called We by a Russian writer whose name began with Z. There were some similarities, but they were also quite different.


Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote We. It's very good. 

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Without deviating from my opriginal question below, i am not asking for comparisons but clarity with the analogy below, as i am still unsatified with how far one can take plagiarism as in the context below of a comic super hero.

Thanks for the detailed reply, what about if for example we take superman and another comic writer creates another hero with similar characteristics like x-ray vision, super hearing, optical beams, faster than light, bullet proof, gets his energy from the sun had a red cape....etc, but had blonde hair or no hair at all. That would be blatant plagarism and I take it, it also is never acceptable???

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I'm sure Superman has been copyrighted so you wouldn't just be plagiarising, you'd get sued for copyright infringement too! And no, that level of similarity is not acceptable.

 

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3 hours ago, J Singh said:

Thanks for the detailed reply, what about if for example we take superman and another comic writer creates another hero with similar characteristics like x-ray vision, super hearing, optical beams, faster than light, bullet proof, gets his energy from the sun had a red cape....etc, but had blonde hair or no hair at all. That would be blatant plagarism and I take it, it also is never acceptable???

I think the issue there would be that, while individual characteristics (x-ray vision, super hearing etc.) wouldn't be copyrighted, the combination of all of all the characteristics you listed make an individual character who is recognisable. If you put a wig on superman, those characteristics would still allow you to recognise him as superman. And even if you were talking about a character who wasn't as high profile (or covered by as many copyright laws) as superman, a character or thing in a book which is that recognisable would be the intellectual property of the creator, and so still legally protected. 

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Comics publishers may well sue you if you copy a character too closely.

This video is instructive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2yZwh_gCIU

 

Captain Marvel was closely based on Superman, so Fawcett was sued by Action Comics, the forerunner of DC Comics.

L Miller and Son, who used to repackage Captain Marvel for the UK, simply renamed him Marvelman, changed a few names, special words and distinguishing characteristics, and carried on publishing.

Eventually L Miller and Son had to close down, because the US were allowed to export their superior, coloured-in comics to the UK.

Twenty years later Marvelman was resurrected by Dez Skinn for Warrior. Marvelman was renamed Miracleman, because Marvel the comic publishers would have sued otherwise. The new writer for Miracleman was a young writer, Alan Moore, who did absolutely brain-scrambling stuff, and revolutionised the super-hero genre forever.

Now, I hear Marvel has bought the copyright to Miracleman, although it is still unclear what they are going to do with it.

 

 

Edited by KEV67

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Thanks all and very informative, so if I understand correctly if i were to dissect supermans super powers and give them each to a character in my comic for example x-ray vission and optical beams to "one ", freezing breath to "two",  flight to "three" all in the same ccomic this would not taking plagiarism too far.

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Might have problems with X Men  though, as they all have separate powers, although many superheroes can fly, but some of the more specific powers might cause issues with X Men's creators.

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OK, thanks all and i have considerd some of your input above and have come to consclusion that I personally feel dissecting for example supermans key super and non-cuper chracteristic (his profession, his type of girl friend (brunette), an alien etc) traits and puting specifically a majority of them into a comic, graphic novel or storyboard for cinematic/tv presentation would be taking it too far. 

The opposite would be for example if you take a an autistic savant/or saint with mystic qualities who`s life is torn a appart by doctors who experiemnt to on him to find out about more about him and he becomes well known something he does not desire as a result movies, novels and creative art etc are created leveraging and plagiarising his rhetoric to make statements etc.

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