Do You Ever Worry?

Sometimes the icy finger of dread creeps down my back … like, for instance, when I read the “disclaimer” my formatter added to my manuscript on my behalf spelling out that this book was a work of fiction — that characters, places, themes and the like are of my own wonderings and not based off the real life happenings of others …

But still … we live in legal times.  People can be “sue happy” at the glimmer of a windfall and this is true whether you’re insanely successful or selling merely two digits worth of stock.

I can say — in all sincerity — my book was totally made up.  My characters, save for Jenna who has mother’s spirit, are fictional beings living in the land of make-believe.  But, that doesn’t mean someone somewhere someday might not think otherwise.

We hear about it all the time.  And it’s not just the instance in which a story might strum the strings of another’s reality … sometimes it’s simply your book seeming to them a lot like their book — a book that may or may not be published, a book that may or may not be copyrighted … sometimes, it’s simply a matter of them having the idea and nothing more.

Stephenie Meyer was sued a few times over for her saga.  Once, before the finishing of New Moon … a college friend watched the Twilight movie and felt that the story was actually her’s … one that seemed to have many, many similarities to a short story she wrote in college.  Another, was after the release of Breaking Dawn when a relatively unknown author claimed that some scenes of the fourth installment were plucked directly from her own works — works that she had posted online over time but never traditionally or self published — like, the wedding scene or when Bella and Edward do it on the beach.  To her, those moments belonged to her book … and Stephenie Meyer with all her money was the “bad guy” … the thief … she was accused of plagiarism.

The internet has made being an author a dangerous place.  And the novelty of “no original idea” has taken a sharp right turn.

Can you protect yourself?  No.  Not from what I’ve seen … not from what I’ve looked up.  Save for a little blurb on the story being a work of fiction through and through, you’re screwed.  If someone wants a slice … if someone feels wronged by you and your writing … tough shit — that is, tough shit for you.

Thoughts and ideas are not gadgets and things … you cannot patent them … and that works both ways.  While someone may not be able to patent their idea that they never did anything with … you, as an author, cannot patent it either.  However, you can copyright it.  File it with the Library of Congress.  But, it’s not a fool-proof safe guard … loop holes, legal loop holes, exist.

And it’s worrisome, because whether you make bucketfuls of cash or not … you may someday find yourself served.

Do you ever worry?  How do you protect yourself and your work?

 

 

 

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