Book Cover Copycats: Is It Flattery or Copyright Infringement?

A while back, a reader of our book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, sent me an interesting email. In it, she explained that during her Amazon travels she discovered a book that was a lot like ours. In fact, it was almost a carbon copy. I followed the link, and what I found left me gobsmacked.

et amazoninternet marketing thesaurus

Looks familiar, doesn’t it?

For me, the shock was double. First, that someone would mimic our cover, right down to the color scheme, and secondly, that they would also call their book a “Thesaurus.” To me, these two things together pointed in one direction…the authors were trying to piggyback our book, perhaps in hopes that some of our fans would buy their product, mistakenly thinking it was actually part of our bestselling series.

The idea that people could be taken in by this made me feel sick. The first thing I had to do was get a copy of the book to see inside it. A copied cover was one thing, but if our book content was also being used, that would be catastrophic. The book was on a free promotion, so I downloaded it.

Thankfully the content had nothing to do with our books. But what it was (a set of simple internet marketing term definitions for things like “HTML” and “Blog” without any teaching content or advice whatsoever) didn’t make it feel like a book (and certainly not a thesaurus!) This, combined with a lengthy legal disclaimer at the start of the book (perhaps a measure taken in case buyers were not happy with the value?), left me with the feeling that this could be a “trying to make a quick buck” situation.

The last thing I wanted was for anyone to think this book was associated with us. Becca quickly emailed Writer’s Beware, who advised us to contact Amazon directly as they were cracking down on “non-books” and could remove it from sale if it fell under copyright infringement. (I emailed our cover designer, Scarlett Rugers, who assured us that the design was ours alone, and we owned the copyright.)

We contacted Amazon and while we waited for a response, I started looking into the authors, hoping to reach them to ask about their intentions. Two authors were listed in the book, while only one was listed on the cover. Every lead I followed turned into smoke. No websites, no amazon author profiles. The publisher had no website either, and a few other books tied to them (things like blank recipe and address books) were uploaded around the same time. The authors of these “books” also had no online presences or websites. I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be pseudonyms, in case one book was taken down the others would be unaffected.

I went to the Kindle boards community to see if they had any idea how to track down the authors of this book. They are such a great group of people, and offered me lots of ideas on how to track him down, in case Amazon refused to pull the book on their end.

The full discussion is here if anyone wants to read it. If you are running up against a situation regarding copyright, it’s worth reading and accessing links. Interestingly, the issue became somewhat of a debate. People were divided…was this a form of copyright infringement, or not? Cover similarities are seen all the time after all, even in traditional publishing. Of course, sometimes this can get publishers into deep trouble. So was this a situation where there was little we could do? Or, perhaps we should even feel “flattered” someone recognized our book’s popularity and sought to emulate it?

I know how Becca and I felt about it. The guy called it a Thesaurus for one. And he didn’t just take inspiration from our cover, he copied it to the best of his ability. There are subtle differences obviously, but it was clear (we felt) this was a case of someone trying to misuse our trusted brand.

Luckily, my local SCBWI hosted a workshop right around this time on Intellectual Copyright Law, led by a IC lawyer. (I’ll mention straight out that I live in Canada, and international interpretation of law will vary.)

He discussed a few things: Branding, Copyright, and Trademark. Here are some loose definitions based on my notes:

Trademark: a mark that legally represents something, often a business, by their goods or services.

Branding: distinguishing your product from those of your competitors. When a consumer sees your branding (colors, words or phrases, etc.) or logo, they associate it with your product.

Copyright: exclusive rights granted to the originator of intellectual property to use and distribute.

Businesses are constantly attempting to divert consumer attention from an established brand to their own products by adopting a similar look. If a person could be legitimately confused and assume the logo or brand was the same, then you have a case for breaking copyright.

So when is someone taking the work of another without permission (to use, distribute or to create derivative works), classified as copyright infringement?

The lawyer said that the test for this is not how much of the finished work is unique, but instead how much was taken from someone else. Could a consumer become legitimately confused (as mentioned above)?

One case the lawyer brought up was an author who pitched a TV cartoon to producers but was turned down. A year later, the TV station launched a cartoon that was eerily similar to what he pitched (the series plot scenario, some distinctive characters, etc.) The author went after them, and while the producers argued that there were unique elements that were completely different than what the author pitched (an additional sidekick character, a special talent for the main character that was not in the author’s version, etc.) the court ruled in favor of the author. They felt there was enough similar to his proposed series to classify as infringement.

When I showed the lawyer the cover of The Emotion Thesaurus, and then The Positive Trait and Negative Trait Thesaurus books, and then the copied Internet Marketing cover, he said in my case, the infringement falls under “Distinguishing Guise.” This means that the “look” of our books are the same, and contribute to our established brand.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000046_00066] 1ET 1NT

As you can see, our books are very similar, built to be recognizable. Readers who see our covers associate the look of each with our brand. Therefore, trying to imitate our covers in this way is infringing on our copyright.

Luckily for us, Amazon agreed with out assessment of copyright infringement, and after filling out a legal declaration that we were the copyright holders, they removed the other book from their sites. Hopefully no one was taken in by the copied look, thinking it was somehow associated with us.

I wanted to share this story in case it might help someone else. Please Note: I’m not dispensing legal advice, simply relaying my own experience and memory of what was discussed at the workshop.

Authors work hard at creating a brand for themselves. Protect yours. If you are an author and having a unique cover is important to you, make sure that the artist you’re working with has no plans of reselling the cover design to others. And remember that copyright is easier to prove if it has been registered.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped us work through this situation, and to all of you wonderful readers who watch out for us. We are so privileged that you have our backs.

Have you run into copyright infringement? Have any insight you can add? Please let us know in the comments!

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

This entry was posted in About Us, Publishing and Self Publishing, Sales Numbers & Helpful Data, The Business of Writing, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Book Cover Copycats: Is It Flattery or Copyright Infringement?

  1. Pingback: Why you should be using clichés in your book cover design

  2. LB Johnson says:

    Thanks for the great information. I have another question. My Amazon best seller is on a foreign website offered for free with some really horribly written sales points and lots of skanky lingerie. A friend who is retired IT guy got me the name of the company that set up the domain and I reported the abuse but the website is still up. Their main site is in something other than English.

    Any advice?

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  5. Holy crap! I just stopped by to see what was going on and my first and immediate reaction was, wow, they have another one for me to buy and read. That’s how much the cover copies yours. It’s horrible. It’s one thing when others take our lead or use our ideas, while giving full credit to the true author. I can’t tell you how much I have relied on your blogs and books as references and guides, but this is outright copyright infringement – it has to be . The author’s intent could only have been to ride on the coattail of ya’ll’s huge success.

    I hope it is worked out soon. Best of luck and I really hate this happened to the two of you.

  6. Marcia says:

    Wow. This must have been upsetting, and made a lot of work for you that you didn’t expect to have to do. I’m glad things went in your favor, and thanks for sharing the experience.

  7. This is really interesting, I had just finished a post on
    book cover clichés were I said flat out copying like this rarely happens. I can’t see what they hoped to achieve by copying directly, unless as you say to fool people into associating their book with your branding. Nice you got it all settled, I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

    • What’s funny is that I was just at your blog reading your article! Yes, this is an odd cover to copy, but when you combine it with the title copying, then to me it seems clear the author was hoping people might tie this book to our series.

      I don’t really understand why people try to shortcut–just write the best book you can and create a cover that speaks to your book and brand.

      Thanks for stopping in!

      Angela

      • What I found interesting was that when we started digging into this, we discovered that this DOES happen often enough—so often that Amazon has a loose track record of removing the offending books when asked to do so. I had no idea.

        • :Donna Marie says:

          Becca, it all makes me ill. Just goes to show you how many people will do whatever it takes to help themselves get ahead in whichever way they’re shooting for, and they have no problem “stealing” from others to do it. *sigh*

  8. This is insane! I’m so glad you took action and shared your experience. Yikes!

  9. Pingback: Book cover clichés: why using them will actually help you sell more books | Creativindie

  10. Karla says:

    Oh! How scary. There’s so much information that many of us don’t know. I truly believe things happen for a reason and perhaps you went through that ordeal to share insight with the rest of us. I’m glad things worked for you all, though!

    Is there a legal book for authors to read? lol. Seems like we need to protect ourselves because we never know what may happen.

  11. Angela Kulig says:

    That is awful. Truly a scam, and truly unfortunate.

    As someone else mentioned, I don’t want your readers to be confused about copyright and stock photography. The vast majority of indie covers are not original art, or one time use images (exclusive rights). If you buy a stock photo and use it as your cover, there is nothing to keep Joe from putting the exact same image on his cover. I just don’t wants fights to break out between authors that won’t have a winner. It that case, it likely isn’t stealing… so much as being unaware. Not everyone is this level of vindictive.

    • Yes, absolutely. This is why I mentioned that talking to the artist beforehand about expectations is important. If a person knows going in that the same image can be used on other covers and they are okay with it, great. But it’s about having that conversation with the artist, and understanding what rights a person has. For example, the word scramble on the Emotion Thesaurus is a stock picture we paid for. Someone else could purchase it as well. We are okay with that, because the rest of our cover design is distinctive and unique and while it incorporates this picture, it is much more than a single stock photo.

  12. How horrifying!! Hugs, Ladies!! I’m glad someone/s were looking out for you and it was taken care of!!

  13. MJ Bush says:

    Oh goodness. I’m so sorry. There’s no excuse for that and I just want to give you a hug.

    But it’s great to see the community stepping up to support you. And it’s a great lesson on how to handle copyright infringement.

  14. Bish Denham says:

    Wow! Thanks for the information and I’m SO glad you got the impostor book removed.

  15. I’m so glad Amazon took it down. You really did your homework and I’m glad to hear you pursued this!

    A friend of mine co-wrote a technical book. Someone from his work team, in the same industry, came upon a “book” on Amazon that recycled some of their copyrighted material along with stuff from dozens of other sources. The book was akin to doing an internet search, copy+pasting into a document, and uploading. It literally made no linear sense, and it cost as much as a textbook. Thanks to a flashy cover, these fake authors even garnered some sales.

  16. Leslie says:

    Yikes! I’m so glad Amazon upheld your rights.

  17. That was rather brazen. I’ve seen similar covers, but that was a complete copy. Hopefully no one was duped and glad Amazon took it down.

  18. Tamara Meyers says:

    What do you have to do to copyright a cover? The cover on my book is original art – I painted it – and it is on line, but only as the cover of my book. Since I have the original watercolor, and my name is on the cover, is that enough? It would be terrible to have someone steal my cover but also my art.

  19. Mart Ramirez says:

    Thank you for sharing the details on this with us! I had wondered if things were taken care of. So glad they were able to straighten things out. What a horrible violated feeling. You and Becca work so hard. I am so glad everything turned out okay.

    And how horrible for the man who shared his idea for that TV show and they ended up using it!

  20. Bonnie Doran says:

    How awful. I’m glad you got the issue resolved, at least with Amazon.

    On a lighter note, I wanted to order a cake with my book cover on it. The baker at a supermarket said, “Oh, we can’t do that. It’s copyright infringement.”

    “But it’s my book.”

    “We can’t do that. We’ll get into trouble.”

    I pulled the novel from my purse. “I wrote the book.”

    “Let me call the supervisor.”

    The supervisor okayed it after I showed her my ID. At my book launch party, friends were determined to eat the copyright infringement cake and destroy the evidence.

  21. Mindy says:

    Theft is theft! Good on you for tracking this down. Very scary. Mindy

  22. K.M. Weiland says:

    Wow. Gobsmacked is exactly the word for it. o.o You do see *lots* of books playing off bestsellers (if I’ve seen one title with “50 shades” in it – erotic or not – I’ve seen a hundred), but nothing quite that egregious.

  23. Ben Stoddard says:

    It almost makes you wish there was some sort of quality control in the self E-publishing market, yet that would defeat the whole purpose.

    Good on you for successfully taking the copycat down. The idea that someone would steal a portion of what I’ve been working so hard on is kind of terrifying, even though I haven’t sent anything out yet. That’s one reason I like living in Canada though – copyright is automatic.

  24. Mikki Sadil says:

    Angela, what an interesting post! I’m sure glad you got things worked out and Amazon took the book down. I have all three of your Thesauruses…er, Thesaurusi?…anyway, I have all three and love them. When are you going to do a Setting one? I use so many of your settings in my writing.
    Anyway, when I published my first book last year, I learned something very interesting: Cover Artists don’t always, or even usually, make their own covers for the books. They take photos from a variety of websites where the photos are not copyrighted, usually they pay for them, and arrange these photos into a cover to represent the book they are working on.
    However…you CAN find one or more of these same photos on different book covers, but it is NOT copyright infringement because the photos are on a website that is not copyrighted. Even though your book is copyrighted, another CA could find the same photo used on your book cover, and pay for its use then use it in a collage of some kind that will go on another book. The point is, once the photo on a website is sold, apparently, it is not taken down. It is still there for someone else to use.

    My second book published this April, has this lovely young red-haired girl on the cover, along with a beautiful Palomino horse and some background. Recently, I found on another book cover the same girl, in the same pose, but with an entirely different background. It was a surprise, to say the least, but nothing can be done about it, because the photo itself is not copyrighted.

    Your situation is different, because it is obvious this guy just copied everything about your book cover, but it still comes as a shock to see a part of your own book cover on someone else’s book.
    Mikki

    • Yes, this is part of the trouble, which is why it’s important for someone to make sure that if they want a unique cover, they ensure the design or model used is copyrighted. But in this “do it yourself” industry, often an image can be bought many times over. I know some authors who take two or three images that they have purchased right to and blend them on the cover to ensure their book look is unique.

      And Becca and I are working on the Setting books right now, in fact. I say books, because like the Positive and negative trait thesaurus, Setting is just too big to fit in one book. We have two on the go right now, and may actually expand it into a 3 volume set. We’re hoping for a Spring 2015 release date. 🙂 Thanks for asking!

  25. Ange, Becca, how awful! 🙁 This is so disturbing that you guys had to go through all of this. HUGE KUDOS to whoever it was that noticed the book on Amazon to begin with! I am THRILLED that this was resolved quicker than it might have been (could have taken years). As I read your story, I wondered how many times this has happened, and the author never knew about it. PSHAW on that Matt person. PHOOEY! Thanks for the lesson on law, y’all. (Law Thesaurus?) *wink* (((hugs)))

  26. :Donna Marie says:

    Angela (and Becca), as soon as I saw this, my stomach turned. It is not just a “little” obvious that this “author” deliberately copied, almost to a “T,” your book cover! I am just glad Amazon did the just thing. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case, it seems. Regardless of how flattering it is, this is no consolation. You feel “raped.” The reason I know this is because, as Laura and you both pointed out, I had my work “stolen/pirated” through a publishing house. I just don’t know who AT the house was responsible in having given my dummy book—which was requested by an art director at a conference—to an already published author/illustrator—obviously in desperate need of an idea—who tweaked my work and published it through a different house. Several people tried to console me by saying if that person “stole” my work, they lacked what you have. Yeah, OK–flattery? Sorry, but it’s meaningless.

    It was last Nov. when I was doing my typical “Barnes Browse” in the children’s dept. and saw the cover of this book face out on the shelf. I did a double-take, thinking it seemed WAY too coincidental. When I sat in the café to read my pile of new releases and came to that one, from the cover, to the jacket flap, title page, basic idea and even illustration content, including the SAME TWO characters, I KNEW what had happened. Here I am, a struggling, aspiring author/illustrator who came close to having MY book published, had it stolen by this “woman” (insert appropriately nasty, more accurate word).

    Of course, my immediate reaction was to see if I could/should do anything about it. Two agents I know (one is a lawyer) looked at it and weren’t confident about my chances. Another was, but that first day I also spoke to a knowledgeable friend and her wise advice was to not let this horrible situation distract or derail me. She said my book deserved to be published and to stay on track. It’s what I did because I can’t afford the time or money it would take trying to get justice on this one. All I know is I have a hard time feeling like the Christian woman I am when I think of this woman and what she did. I’ve had a fantasy of how it would go down if I ever actually met her. Man, I’d love to see her reaction! And sadly, this is not the first time I’ve had my work used or stolen (in other venues), so the act itself doesn’t shock me. I will never know how these people can sleep at night—to have absolutely NO conscience.

    • Oh man, I hurt for you Donna! How truly awful. It’s a no win situation sometimes, because to go after someone can be very costly, and can sometimes come down to who has the deeper pockets (especially when you’re dealing with a publisher). Similar book concepts do happen, but it sounds like to me you were very deliberately copied. Shame on the people involved. There’s just NO excuse.

      It is possible the author might not even know the book idea was someone else’s. I know that sometimes agents ask their clients to write a book about X topic, because that’s what a certain publisher is looking for, and publishers sometimes reach out to a stable of authors they have worked with to bring about a story idea, too. Of course, because it is so similar, you’d think the author would wonder why the idea came with SO MUCH specific detail to put into the story…right?

      • :Donna Marie says:

        Thanks, Angela 🙂 There’s no way not to hurt for each other in these circumstances, right?

        In this case I can 1000% guarantee you that this author/illustrator actually had her grubby little hands ON my dummy book, or copies/scans of it. When you are the creator of characters, story and illustrations for a 32-page dummy book, you know what it took to conceive and execute everything in it. This was definitely not a “this is a good idea and here are some suggestions” type situation. That’s why I know it. It’s not a case of something being similar. If you actually saw the two books side by side, it’s incredibly obvious, not just to me, but to anyone I’ve shown it to.

        It’s a killer, and I can tell you, every time I’m at Barnes and see one of her books displayed, I literally have to turn them upside down or backward, think the “you don’t deserve to be there!” thoughts and wish I could burn them all. But–that’s as far as I’m able to go with it, and once I let any pursuit go (within a day), I put it behind me, for the most part, though it has affected me deeply. Though that same friend has said this is the “exception, not the rule” and shouldn’t have it hold me back from submitting—it does. The only editor I submitted work to since then was someone I know and I could email him directly–no one else would see it. I can’t bring myself to submit without representation so I’m back on the agent track. I haven’t submitted consistently over the years. In spurts, for all sorts of reasons, but now I’m much more pro-active. I keep hoping something will break ’cause I’m getting pretty old and so is the struggle. We’ll see what happens!

        Thanks, Angela 😀 oxox

        • I think the betrayal is worse when it’s by someone who intimately knows just how much blood and sacrifice goes into creating a book. There is no excuse for a writer to do knowingly this to another writer.

          • :Donna Marie says:

            Yes, I see it as pretty much unforgivable no matter what, but when someone knows it first hand, even more so. It’s the epitome of a self-serving act in this respect. At least we don’t have that in us 🙂

  27. This is crazy! I know people have similar covers all the time. Self-published authors will often buy the same stock photo and end up with covers that look almost exactly the same. This was downright stealing! You can tell they spent time making sure their cover was like yours. I hate people like that.

    Luckily I am not popular enough for anyone to want my stuff. I haven’t dealt with any copyright issues yet.

  28. Awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
    P.S. I love your book! 🙂

  29. In my opinion it is by no means a form of flatter, it’s a straight up attempt to ride bestselling curtails. Unfortunately it happens everywhere in all industries. Even more unfortunate, it’s hard to copyright an idea or brand. There is a site where one can copyright photos and I believe it works for covers as well. Here’s the link: http://www.copyrighted.com/

  30. Julie Glover says:

    Good for y’all! And thanks for sharing your experience.

    I sometimes think that people don’t recognize the gravity of such an act because we call it things like “copyright infringement” and “trademark counterfeiting.” But the simple word is “stealing.” There’s a big difference between similarities and this kind of outright theft. Glad Amazon supported you.

    • It is a tough thing to try and prove, often because it is a common practice in the business world to draw on what has already been branded in order to emerge as something “similar.” I think if people put as much time and effort into building a good product as they do figuring out who’s brand they can emulate to try and skim customers, they’d come out farther ahead!

  31. Julie Musil says:

    Holy cow!!!! It makes me sad…and sick…to realize people do this sort of sneaky thing. Of course it’s an altered copy. Thanks for sharing your story. Let’s hope none of us go through what you did, but you’ve given us a clear path in case it does. I’m glad that book is down.

    • Yeah, it was crazy all right. Honestly, I’m not sure why they chose us…logically speaking, if a book were popular in its genre, wouldn’t it be likely a reader would find the book twin and say something (and of course, this is exactly what happened.)Then everything falls down like a house of cards, and the offender either gets his book removed anyway, or the bad press would cut off sales.

  32. There’s only one dynamic duo in the thesaurus world! *fist pump*

  33. Deanna Roy says:

    I’ve had the unfortunate experience of a copy catter who knew the law well enough that I couldn’t do anything about it. They put up a non-book with the same title as mine exactly. (Titles cannot be copyrighted.)

    But it was a clear attempt to try and sell some books by piggy backing on my popular one. It has only 7 pages of content that are really just an ad for something else, a scam, obviously.

    • That’s so unfortunate. It’s very frustrating when someone uses current law to get away with something. Someone out there actually has a book that is just reviews from Amazon on The Emotion Thesaurus. I mean, why? Who would buy a book like that? Not me, and I’m the author! It makes no sense sometimes what people do to make a buck.

  34. So glad you got this straightened out! I’m constantly amazed at what others are willing to do to make a buck.

  35. Wendy Clarke says:

    All I can say is that I feel really angry on your behalf – and I’m just glad Amazon removed the offending books. Grrrrrr.

    • Yes, I’m very glad this was all resolved by Amazon. But you never know–they could have said that we’d have to work with the author to take it down, which was why I was trying to find him online. I suspect they did act because our book does sell well there, and they could get bad press if people thinking it was part of our series and bought it only to discover it was a book of 50 dictionary terms.

  36. Laura Pauling says:

    Sorry that happened to you. I’m not surprised. The more successful a brand, the more apt it is to be copied. But yours is very unique. And that’s not the first time I’ve heard of work being rejected and then publishers having another author write a similar idea. 🙁

    So glad someone pointed this out to you.

    • Yes, I have heard of this happening too–an author submits something to an agent or publishing house, is rejected and then a year or so later, an in-house project with an agent’s client or an commissioned author is launched. Often, there’s little that can be done, and this is frustrating for authors who spent so much time honing the book.

      That link to Passive Guy’s blog on the cover Harlequin copied sure landed them in hot water, as it should! Glad that in that case, they were outed.

  37. Wow. I can’t believe this happened to you! Shocking that these people thought they would get away with it.

    • It was crazy…quite a few people at the copyright infringement workshop had stories about covers or book content that was stolen. It happens more often than we think. 🙁

  38. Paula Cappa says:

    This is news to me. I’m curious about something. When authors copyright their books, I thought it was the content of the book that is copyrighted. Not the cover. If I copyrighted my manuscript before a cover was made and then published it, is the cover included or do you have to copyright the cover as a separate entity? Do I have to update my copyright with the cover? Any advice on this? Thanks!

    • Good question, and I think it would depend on the circumstance. First, it would depend on whether you are the copyright holder of the cover. Some cover artists will make template book covers that you or anyone else can purchase. I have seen books where the exact same cover is used. So understanding whether you own the cover or not would be key.

      Copyright also doesn’t need to be registered, but if one has registered it, then proving one owns copyright is much easier as a date is attached to it.

      As to whether the book content and book cover are two different copyrights, I cant say for sure, but found some links that might help.

      http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Copyright_rules_by_subject_matter: “Book covers

      Book covers, unless they are very old, usually carry copyright-protected designs, and photographs of them may not normally be uploaded to Commons. The fact that you are the physical owner of a book does not mean that you are authorized to replicate the cover design by uploading a copy here. A rare exception to this rule would be a book cover which is simple enough to not exceed the Threshold of originality.”

      and: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf : Copyright Basics (see #5)
      ·
      3
      What Works Are Protected?
      Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are
      fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not
      be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated
      with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works
      include the following categories:
      1 literary works
      2 musical works, including any accompanying words
      3 dramatic works, including any accompanying music
      4 pantomimes and choreographic works
      5 pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
      6 motion pictures and other audiovisual works
      7 sound recordings
      8 architectural works
      These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”; maps and architectural plans may
      be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”

  39. Jessica Bell says:

    Wow. What a story. This is scary!

    The only experience I have ever had with copyright infringement is a literary journal copy and pasting text from a blog post of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and making it sound like their own. The funny thing was, the blog post wasn’t about craft or anything like that, it was a gushing post about our appreciation of the support we’ve had, and the fabulous submissions by our contributors! So it was a very personal text. What an odd thing to copy, hey?

    I immediately contacted them and told them to take it down. They did.

    • I had this happen with a blog article too–I don’t get why someone would try to make it sound like it’s their content–why not just link to the original post and ask to reprint it? But it is frustrating when someone copies an article making it sound as if it is something they wrote, something that happened within the scope of their experience. In my case I explained to the author (yep, a romance author did this!) that all it would take was a link online to this plagiarized article to completely destroy her reputation, and how stupid it was to risk that over an article. I told her to take the article down and writer her own content from now on, because I didn’t want to be responsible for that stigma being tied to her. Luckily she did so. What a silly risk to take, and lucky for her I wasn’t someone else who might have just shared that link right out the gate without giving her the opportunity to take it down.

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