Copyright is only supposed to cover the specific expression, not the idea or concept -- but for many, that's tough to grasp. Unfortunately, the group of folks who sometimes don't understand has included some judges, leading to some wacky rulings at times. However, it still hasn't reached the point where novelists are able to claim ownership of basic plot concepts (though some are trying to claim you can patent a plot
). Yet, pretty much any time you have a really successful author, someone shows up and claims that the idea for the famous book was "stolen" from them. It happened
(multiple times) with The Da Vinci Code
. It's happened
(multiple times) with Harry Potter
. And, now it's happening to the author of the Twilight
vampire series, Stephenie Meyer. Another author (represented by his lawyer, J. Craig Williams) is claiming that the plot of one of the books has similarities to a book she wrote a few years earlier
. However, the supposed copying seems weak at best:
In a cease-and-desist letter Williams sent to Hachette Book Group, he provided comparisons from the two books of a wedding, a sex-on-the-beach episode and a passage where a human-turned-vampire describes the wrenching change.
As another instance of similarities, Williams pointed out that characters in both books call their wives "love."
As you look at the details, it's almost always
a situation where the jealous author is really just using the lawsuit as an attempt to get publicity for their book (which is why we're not naming the other book). As if to prove that, the author's lawyer claims:
"I think the fans have to read both books and make up their own mind, like a judge is going to have to," Williams said.
Shouldn't there be sanctions for abusing copyright law to file bogus lawsuits just to get some press for your book?