PDA

View Full Version : Can you break copyright with brute force?



Eerie
2008-06-19, 01:15 PM
Theoretical musing.

Imagine me trying to publish a fanfic of Harry Potter. I`ll be lynched before I can say "Avada Kedavra".

Now imagine me trying to publish the same fanfic with all names changed. Harry Potter is now Jeremy Smith, "wizards and witches" are "mages and sorceresses", and they use switchblades instead of wands. In short, it`s the same Harry Potter, just with different details. Harry Potter from the parallel universe.

Ignoring the fact that you it will be hard to advertise for such a book, and that nobody will publish it, question is - can someone make a case for breach of copyright in the court of law? I mean, if you strip any literary text of details, you will get a fairly limited collection of plot-building blocks, which are reused everywhere.

What do you think?

Oregano
2008-06-19, 01:44 PM
I don't think they could, but of course I have no experience in law but ti has no connection except basic premise, which is shared with many other things.

Btw I don't think "Wizards and Witches" are JK Rowlings inventions.:smallwink:

Joran
2008-06-19, 01:47 PM
From an article about gaming and copyright:

http://www.joystiq.com/2008/05/07/law-of-the-game-on-joystiq-copyright-copywrong/


The storyline is protected to the extent that it is expressed through the game, so that if someone tried to tell the same story with the character names changed, it would likely be infringement. These are all elements of what copyright protects: an expression.

There are actually two tests, the "subtractive method" and the "totality method," but ultimately, both are trying to determine just how similar the works are to each other.

So, basically, yes, your story would infringe on Ms. Rowling's copyright.

Eerie
2008-06-19, 01:52 PM
Btw I don't think "Wizards and Witches" are JK Rowlings inventions.:smallwink:

It`s just to be safe. :smallsmile:

Were-Sandwich
2008-06-19, 01:52 PM
Theoretical musing.

Imagine me trying to publish a fanfic of Harry Potter. I`ll be lynched before I can say "Avada Kedavra".

Now imagine me trying to publish the same fanfic with all names changed. Harry Potter is now Jeremy Smith, "wizards and witches" are "mages and sorceresses", and they use switchblades instead of wands. In short, it`s the same Harry Potter, just with different details. Harry Potter from the parallel universe.

Ignoring the fact that you it will be hard to advertise for such a book, and that nobody will publish it, question is - can someone make a case for breach of copyright in the court of law? I mean, if you strip any literary text of details, you will get a fairly limited collection of plot-building blocks, which are reused everywhere.

What do you think?

See also: Paolini, Christopher

Eerie
2008-06-19, 03:55 PM
See also: Paolini, Christopher

I think I proposed something more extreme...

Tirian
2008-06-19, 10:59 PM
If you're asking if you can tell a coming-of-age story about a young orphan who learns that he is the most powerful being of his age, and with the help of supernatural and moral mentors is able to overcome legendary evil and introduce a golden age, then yes. You're not ripping off JKR any more than she ripped off J.R.R. Tolkien or Frank L. Baum or T.H. White. And the story is still alive; Kingdom Hearts, Girl Genius, and Avatar: The Last Airbender are also the same story. Realize that JKR wasn't slapped for ripping off Tim Hunter and that Winx Club wasn't slapped for ripping off Hogwarts and you can get a sense for how much fair use there is for broad plot points and universal themes.

If you're talking about a blow-by-blow paraphrase of the Harry Potter stories, then you would probably lose if your work ever came to the attention of JKR or Scholastic. And by "lose", I mean that you'd spend so much time and money in court that you wouldn't recoup it even if the judgment wasn't against you and your reputation would be forever tarnished in the publishing world.

factotum
2008-06-20, 02:16 AM
If you literally just took the text of the original story and changed the character names then you'd be breaking copyright. If you just happened to write a similar story with similar events, then you're not. Of course, people might well read your work and accuse it of being a Harry Potter ripoff, but there wouldn't be a legal case there.

KernelReefer
2008-06-20, 01:31 PM
If it's the generic coming of age story, then no.

If Jeremy Smith wakes up at the age of 12 in a closet next to the bedroom, and is forced to cook for Foster Mother Daisy before being sent to a magecraft school all the while discovering that his True Parents were killed by the greatest switchblade artist of all time, The-Being-Which-Must-Not-Be-Specified, then you have a problem.

Eerie
2008-06-20, 03:11 PM
If Jeremy Smith wakes up at the age of 12 in a closet next to the bedroom, and is forced to cook for Foster Mother Daisy before being sent to a magecraft school all the while discovering that his True Parents were killed by the greatest switchblade artist of all time, The-Being-Which-Must-Not-Be-Specified, then you have a problem.

This is exactly what I`m talking about. Question is, how can you prove that there is a breach of copyright? Can you actually copyright a "12 years old orphan with a scar who is being sent to school of magic"?

Narmoth
2008-06-20, 05:40 PM
If Jeremy Smith wakes up at the age of 12 in a closet next to the bedroom, and is forced to cook for Foster Mother Daisy before being sent to a magecraft school all the while discovering that his True Parents were killed by the greatest switchblade artist of all time, The-Being-Which-Must-Not-Be-Specified, then you have a problem.

Add inn something about something that must not fall in the switchblade artists hands or he will get power, and you have the plot of the first book nailed.

I think that such a plot is specific enough that it would be infringement to use it.

Tirian
2008-06-20, 05:50 PM
The notion is called the idea-expression divide, and it is a balancing act that every society does differently. Being too loose or too tight with protecting the copyright of general ideas stifles the general welfare of promoting artistic innovation. To give a musical example, it would have been bad if only Chuck Berry could write "rock and roll music" for sixty-five years because any one else would be ripping off "Rock Around The Clock", but it also would be bad if small artists were scared to create great songs like "Twist and Shout" because big artists could cover the songs with slightly different lyrics and music and claim that it is their own work. (This isn't the world's most accurate analogy, but you see the dangers on both sides.)

The idea-expression divide generally allows use of things if they are a natural extension of the environment. The Harry Potter saga has a lot of these. I'm sure that TVTropes has a broader list but here's a sampling: the main character has to avenge his parent's deaths, he goes from being a despised orphan to the prince of a mystical society, he carries a token that prevents the BBEG from harming him until the climactic battle, he turns out to be better than his new rivals at a sport that he's never seen before, he has an associate who despises him and yet won't betray him, he can only remove the BBEG's invulnerability by dying himself and coming back to life. You can write a story with all of these things and not get sued, although you would probably be reviewed as being a hack just like JKR always has been.

On the other hand, if you essentially pay someone in China who has never read Harry Potter to translate the books into Chinese and then pay someone else who has never read Harry Potter to translate THAT book back into English, you will fail even though your story has very few of the same words as the original. Because if it were that easy to steal a story, then ordinary people would recognize that there is no sense in trying to write a great novel.

Dervag
2008-06-20, 07:53 PM
This is exactly what I`m talking about. Question is, how can you prove that there is a breach of copyright? Can you actually copyright a "12 years old orphan with a scar who is being sent to school of magic"?If the whole rest of the book is different, probably not. However, Rowling could sue you if your beginning were enough like hers, and you would be horribly swamped by legal fees.

You can't copyright "12 year old orphan with a scar being sent to magic school." But you can copyright "the plot of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone."

As far as I can tell, you propose to write a book with the plot of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, which is copyrighted. Not gonna fly.

If you want, you can write a book with thematic parallels, or a book that, if summarized in a single paragraph, sounds a lot like a Harry Potter book. But it has to be different enough that you clearly did go to the effort of writing your own book with its own characters. If it looks like you just stole the writing and characters Rowling already created, changed the names, and filed the serial numbers off, you'll get chewed up and spit out by copyright laws, and rightly so.

Jayngfet
2008-06-21, 02:41 AM
What if you made Harry a girl, change wizards and witches to sorcerers, change wand for magic ring or jewel or staff, replace the the stone with a toad, switched he who must not be named to he who's name was forgotten(So that only dumbledore and big names remember), make S.P.E.W. save demon slaves, replace broomsticks with hover boards, make sorcerers aware of the damn internet(how does anyone stay oblivious to such a thing?), replace owls with flying golems, Centaurs are part spider, also change snape and firenzes gender too, switch names and...

Amber Planter and the Magic toad. A tale about a girl from an abusive family who finds herself at a magical school after learning that the "forgotten one" murdered her family with her ring of power(sit down Sauron), learns to ride hoverboards and play birdball(random tidbit, HP wizards used to use magic birds, mine still do), get harassed by the creepy drug making chick obsessed with drugs obsessed with her mom, Bullied by a creepy blond boy, and look for a toad with slime that makes you immortal.

Obviously since only Harry, Snape, and Horseboy are gender reversed, there will be yuri in the sequels.

Fri
2008-06-21, 02:49 AM
Obviously since only Harry, Snape, and Horseboy are gender reversed, there will be yuri in the sequels.

I laughed. I would buy that book even if it's only for the sequel.

Oh, the overtone with hermione would be GREAT!

turkishproverb
2008-06-21, 03:09 AM
On the other hand, if you essentially pay someone in China who has never read Harry Potter to translate the books into Chinese and then pay someone else who has never read Harry Potter to translate THAT book back into English, you will fail even though your story has very few of the same words as the original. Because if it were that easy to steal a story, then ordinary people would recognize that there is no sense in trying to write a great novel.

You fail at understanding literary History. Look up the writing and rewriting of the Arthurian epics sometime.

People trying to write a Great novel (who succeed) usually write because they enjoy it, or because they have a point to make. Profits are usually a secondary issue.

Eerie
2008-06-21, 04:35 AM
I
If you want, you can write a book with thematic parallels, or a book that, if summarized in a single paragraph, sounds a lot like a Harry Potter book. But it has to be different enough that you clearly did go to the effort of writing your own book with its own characters. If it looks like you just stole the writing and characters Rowling already created, changed the names, and filed the serial numbers off, you'll get chewed up and spit out by copyright laws, and rightly so.

Well, what I`m interested in is at what level of plot conformity it will become a copyright infringement. Unless it is something for the judges to decide...

Verruckt
2008-06-21, 04:53 AM
Theoretical musing.

Imagine me trying to publish a fanfic of Harry Potter. I`ll be lynched before I can say "Avada Kedavra".

Now imagine me trying to publish the same fanfic with all names changed. Harry Potter is now Jeremy Smith, "wizards and witches" are "mages and sorceresses", and they use switchblades instead of wands. In short, it`s the same Harry Potter, just with different details. Harry Potter from the parallel universe.

Ignoring the fact that you it will be hard to advertise for such a book, and that nobody will publish it, question is - can someone make a case for breach of copyright in the court of law? I mean, if you strip any literary text of details, you will get a fairly limited collection of plot-building blocks, which are reused everywhere.

What do you think?

Having read both Eragon and the screen play of "A New Hope" I think you're fine :smalltongue:



Amber Planter and the Magic toad. A tale about a girl from an abusive family who finds herself at a magical school after learning that the "forgotten one" murdered her family with her ring of power(sit down Sauron), learns to ride hoverboards and play birdball(random tidbit, HP wizards used to use magic birds, mine still do), get harassed by the creepy drug making chick obsessed with drugs obsessed with her mom, Bullied by a creepy blond boy, and look for a toad with slime that makes you immortal.

Obviously since only Harry, Snape, and Horseboy are gender reversed, there will be yuri in the sequels.

After I finish violently excising my eyes with a white hot claw hammer, I'll be posting this on /b/ (yes I know, "the cancer"). I'll be sure to get back to you all with the results.

Corolinth
2008-06-21, 12:27 PM
You can't copyright "12 year old orphan with a scar being sent to magic school." But you can copyright "the plot of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone."And yet, "the plot of The Once and Future King" does not get the same protection.

My suggestion to the original poster:

Consider that you name the protagonist "Arthur," and otherwise use your idea to the exact letter. Then, when the inevitable lawsuit comes, the author claims that he was stealing from Arthurian Legend, just like Rowling, he was just more honest about it. Arthur Potter and the Sorcerer's Sword Stuck in a Stone has a nice ring to it.

Tirian
2008-06-21, 12:53 PM
You fail at understanding literary History. Look up the writing and rewriting of the Arthurian epics sometime.

The Arthurian legend is in the public domain. And we're not talking about the history of storytelling, we're talking about our peculiar era of corporate-dominated seemingly perpetual copyright.

If we wanted to talk about literary history for a moment, I'd say that we've got horribly wrong. Walt Disney was able to make his first fortune retelling Grimm Brothers stories in the new medium of animated cartoons, and he didn't have to give half of that fortune away to the great-grandchildren of the Grimm's in exchange. But today's potential Disneys have to leverage their potential fortune to licensing fees and potentially the creative will of the estate before making their name (or, of course, creating their own characters, but keep in mind that Disney didn't have to do that); there hasn't been anything put in the public domain for forty years and it will be nearly forty years before anything ever will be (assuming that US and EU law doesn't change between now and then pushing the finish line even further away).

turkishproverb
2008-06-21, 01:46 PM
The Arthurian legend is in the public domain. And we're not talking about the history of storytelling, we're talking about our peculiar era of corporate-dominated seemingly perpetual copyright.

If we wanted to talk about literary history for a moment, I'd say that we've got horribly wrong. Walt Disney was able to make his first fortune retelling Grimm Brothers stories in the new medium of animated cartoons, and he didn't have to give half of that fortune away to the great-grandchildren of the Grimm's in exchange. But today's potential Disneys have to leverage their potential fortune to licensing fees and potentially the creative will of the estate before making their name (or, of course, creating their own characters, but keep in mind that Disney didn't have to do that); there hasn't been anything put in the public domain for forty years and it will be nearly forty years before anything ever will be (assuming that US and EU law doesn't change between now and then pushing the finish line even further away).

True, but your point was entirely opposite. Most of the aspects of the Arturian legend found in Mallory were created in other works that are VERY traceable, often during his or another arturian author's lifetime. People were creating without the need to write the next great novel and make money. Therefore, you were wrong, miserably wrong. Most great novels were written at a time when only the exact words qualified as copyrighted. Many others were written under only slightly more stringent codes (Had nosferatu been made a few years earlier, Stoker's widow couldn't have sued. even then, her case was weaker than people think IN THE COURTROOM)

factotum
2008-06-21, 02:50 PM
I'm not so sure that a parallel universe Harry Potter where the protagonist used a switchblade rather than a wand would turn out all that close to the original books anyway. Remove the magic and perforce some plot events and places have to change beyond all recognition--you can't have a platform 9 1/2 at Kings Cross without magic, for a start, or a flying car (second book, I know, but you see the point I'm making).

I would be interested to see the result if somebody actually tried to write such a thing and deliberately stuck as close to the original plot as possible--how close would they be able to get?

Eerie
2008-06-21, 04:07 PM
I'm not so sure that a parallel universe Harry Potter where the protagonist used a switchblade rather than a wand would turn out all that close to the original books anyway. Remove the magic and perforce some plot events and places have to change beyond all recognition--you can't have a platform 9 1/2 at Kings Cross without magic, for a start, or a flying car (second book, I know, but you see the point I'm making).

I would be interested to see the result if somebody actually tried to write such a thing and deliberately stuck as close to the original plot as possible--how close would they be able to get?

I meant magic switchblades, of course. Or magic paintbrushes, lead pipes, or whatever small elongated object you can wave to make spells.

Dervag
2008-06-21, 11:47 PM
I would like to say that we need to think not just about plot, but about content. More on that later.


You fail at understanding literary History. Look up the writing and rewriting of the Arthurian epics sometime.

People trying to write a Great novel (who succeed) usually write because they enjoy it, or because they have a point to make. Profits are usually a secondary issue.Chill.

He's right, I think. Even if authors write purely because it amuses them to do so, they still have to eat. And if people accept blatant rip-offs of good work as being itself good work, then people trying to create new good work don't get to eat so well.

In practice, I think a lot of people won't accept a blatant rip-off as good work whether it's legal or not. But that has more to do with stolen text than stolen plot. As I describe below, stealing a plot doesn't mean your work is a true copy.
____________________________

In the case of the Arthurian epics, my impression is that the demand for storytellers and medieval romance was great enough that you could rip off the work of someone else and get away with it. In the absence of printing and mass media, there weren't that many copies of the other epic around. So if you brushed it off and marketed it as your own, you could sell.

Today, that doesn't work well with the concept of authors who can actually survive by writing.


Well, what I`m interested in is at what level of plot conformity it will become a copyright infringement. Unless it is something for the judges to decide...It is, because there is no objective measure of how much a plot conforms to another plot.

Thing is, why do you even want to steal the plot?

Plots are the easy part of a novel to create. It is not difficult to produce a good plot, or at least a plot with the potential to be good. If you really sat down and thought about it, you could probably generate a plot for a story of novel length in a day.

Which is why nobody will pound on you if you take someone else's plot and replace a lot of the characters, key items, and other important nouns using a Mad-Libs style. If my novel features heroic orphan A retrieving magic item B to defeat enemy C, and yours features heroic orphan X retrieving magic item Y to defeat enemy Z, I can't really sue and there's not much point in my trying. Plots are cheap, especially a really basic plot with deep roots in the archetypal tropes of fiction. Like plots with heroic orphans, items that must be sought via quest, and so on.
___________________

The real challenge is being a skilled enough writer to make that plot come to life and populate it with convincing characters. That's what Rowling did with Harry Potter, and that's why she sells so well. And that's why so many would-be authors never publish anything, and often never even get the editor to read past the first or second page of their manuscript. It's not the plot- bad plotting is only obvious when you've read a large fraction of the novel.

The problem is that most people cannot write convincing creative fiction that will make you want to read about the characters and their experiences.

If you try to clone Harry Potter, you'll have that problem. Having the same plot elements doesn't mean your story is any good. Give your Harry Potter clone plot to, say, Uwe Boll and he will make the worst thing you've ever seen out of it.

To write a Harry Potter clone and sell it, you would need to do just as good a job fleshing out your characters as she does with hers. And you can't just steal large blocks of text from her novel, doing a find and replace for all the names you change. That is illegal, because it's outright plagiarism.

So you have to be as good at character development as she is to write a book like hers. But if you can write like Rowling, and make characters as convincing as hers, you don't need to steal her plot, because you can build a novel around your own plot just as easily.
_______________________________


Having read both Eragon and the screen play of "A New Hope" I think you're fine :smalltongue:This ties into what I said above.

I haven't read Eragon. My impression is that it uses a set of very old and very common plot elements that are either archetypes or cliches depending on your attitude towards them. In other words, its plot will look a lot like other plots that make use of the same elements.

However, this does NOT mean that Eragon is a stolen copy of some other work. Even if Paolini specifically sat down, copied the plot of A New Hope, and wrote his own story around it, it isn't plagiarism in my opinion. Because Paolini still had to do the vastly more difficult task of creating a world full of characters that his readers would like and want to read about. Characters who, no matter how similar their roles are, are not Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi and Han Solo and the gang.

Does this make the novel artistically good? I neither know nor care. What it does mean is that Paolini had to by God sit down and write a novel. He couldn't save time by stealing huge blocks of working text verbatim, because another person's working text wouldn't work in his novel. Unless, of course, I'm wrong and he really did copy entire paragraphs and pages from other works and paste them together into a novel.

Jayngfet
2008-06-21, 11:55 PM
The Amper Planter epic book two:The Stone Gaze

Amber planter has a miserable summer, only one of her friends(and aquantince really) sent her a letter. Her cousin Harvey is still treated better by uncle Adam, she meets a demon, horns and all who has stolen her friends birthday things, she embarrasses the rest of the family in front of her uncles boss at the hammer company, who locks her up and takes apart her flying golem with an axe, the Smith twins break her out in a flying convertable...


Honestly I should record this and sell it.

Kane
2008-06-22, 01:42 AM
The Amper Planter epic book two:The Stone Gaze

Amber planter has a miserable summer, only one of her friends(and aquantince really) sent her a letter. Her cousin Harvey is still treated better by uncle Adam, she meets a demon, horns and all who has stolen her friends birthday things, she embarrasses the rest of the family in front of her uncles boss at the hammer company, who locks her up and takes apart her flying golem with an axe, the Smith twins break her out in a flying convertable...


Honestly I should record this and sell it.

I know a guy who knows a guy...


Honestly, I think the line between infringement and 'similar story' is very vague. At the moment, I think they depend on people either A, not being bright/capable enough to try it. (Printing costs money), or B, being reasonable enough not to.

If it was done, I think it'd come down to who had the better lawyer, in which case the already-established-author would probably win.

WhiteKnight777
2008-06-23, 01:53 PM
If it was done, I think it'd come down to who had the better lawyer, in which case the already-established-author would probably win.

Pretty much this. Let's face it, the amount of ripping-off you can get away with is directly proportional to how powerful/wealthy the owner of the original product is. Hell, one of the biggest reasons the reason that copyright terms keep getting extended (It recently got bumped up to life of the author + 75 years here in the U.S.) is because Disney starts pushing for an extension every time Mickey Mouse is about to enter public domain.

EvilDMMk3
2008-06-23, 01:59 PM
After asking a University law professor the answer I would give is this.

By the time it is different enough not to be a breach of copyright, you would have spent LESS time, effort and creativity to start from scratch.

Eerie
2008-06-25, 09:27 AM
After asking a University law professor the answer I would give is this.

By the time it is different enough not to be a breach of copyright, you would have spent LESS time, effort and creativity to start from scratch.

But how different is different enough? Suppose you change every word in every sentence with a synonym.

Project_Mayhem
2008-06-25, 09:58 AM
Couldn't you claim your bastardised work was a parody? There'd be no way of proving that you didnt intend what you wrote to be funny. I mean, if you think about 'Barry Trotter', 'Bored of the Rings', and 'The Soddit' to name a few, what theyre essentially doing is rewriting the story with slightly different names and events.

Also, It's the freakin' Philosophers stone, not the sorcerers. I can't believe whoever edited the American version could be so condenscending. I mean, you all know what a philosopher is? and what crumpets are?

Artemician
2008-06-25, 10:12 AM
Couldn't you claim your bastardised work was a parody? There'd be no way of proving that you didnt intend what you wrote to be funny. I mean, if you think about 'Barry Trotter', 'Bored of the Rings', and 'The Soddit' to name a few, what theyre essentially doing is rewriting the story with slightly different names and events.

Actually, Barry Trotter pretty much has a plot of its own. It's only superficially similar to Harry Potter, the characters and story are completely different.

As for the Soddit and the Sellamillion, the events are superficially similar, but they way they're explained and link between each other is not. And somehow, I like it better. Roberts' explanation of the events that transpire in Middle Earth is much more elegant than Tolkien's.

Project_Mayhem
2008-06-25, 10:15 AM
Actually, Barry Trotter pretty much has a plot of its own. It's only superficially similar to Harry Potter, the characters and story are completely different.

As for the Soddit and the Sellamillion, the events are superficially similar, but they way they're explained and link between each other is not. And somehow, I like it better. Roberts' explanation of the events that transpire in Middle Earth is much more elegant than Tolkien's.

Fair does, but there's precedent there. How close could you make it before it stopped being parody?

And Barry Trotter is truely excellent.

Jorkens
2008-06-25, 10:34 AM
In the case of the Arthurian epics, my impression is that the demand for storytellers and medieval romance was great enough that you could rip off the work of someone else and get away with it. In the absence of printing and mass media, there weren't that many copies of the other epic around. So if you brushed it off and marketed it as your own, you could sell.

Today, that doesn't work well with the concept of authors who can actually survive by writing.

It is, because there is no objective measure of how much a plot conforms to another plot.

Thing is, why do you even want to steal the plot?

Plots are the easy part of a novel to create. It is not difficult to produce a good plot, or at least a plot with the potential to be good. If you really sat down and thought about it, you could probably generate a plot for a story of novel length in a day.

Which is why nobody will pound on you if you take someone else's plot and replace a lot of the characters, key items, and other important nouns using a Mad-Libs style. If my novel features heroic orphan A retrieving magic item B to defeat enemy C, and yours features heroic orphan X retrieving magic item Y to defeat enemy Z, I can't really sue and there's not much point in my trying. Plots are cheap, especially a really basic plot with deep roots in the archetypal tropes of fiction. Like plots with heroic orphans, items that must be sought via quest, and so on.
___________________

The real challenge is being a skilled enough writer to make that plot come to life and populate it with convincing characters. That's what Rowling did with Harry Potter, and that's why she sells so well. And that's why so many would-be authors never publish anything, and often never even get the editor to read past the first or second page of their manuscript. It's not the plot- bad plotting is only obvious when you've read a large fraction of the novel.

Another good example is Shakespeare, who was pretty happy to lift plots from other writers, but the psychological depth he brought to the characters and the quality of the writing means that noone would call it a rip-off.

Likewise, I thought the retellers of Arthurian tales were accepted and respected as just that - retellers and reinterpreters - sometimes brilliant ones. Complaining that Mallory reuses a lot of elements of Tristam from other sources is a bit like complaining that Alfred Brendel didn't write the Moonlight Sonata.

Actually, it seems to me like a rather weird modern idea that an artist has to be in absolute control of every aspect of their art and create every element themselves or risk being a called hack or a ripoff artist.

nagora
2008-06-25, 06:20 PM
I'm amazed no one has mentioned Sword of Shanara yet. Brooks must have typed that with LotR open on the desk in front of him. I remember when it came out and people at school who had read LotR were laughing about it. Years later, when I read LotR myself I was gobsmacked at how blatant it was.

Dervag
2008-06-25, 11:55 PM
And yet, there are quite a few people who read and like both series.

Why?

Presumably because while Brooks raided Lord of the Rings for plot elements (or possibly just raided some of the same archetypes and stories Tolkein had), he wrote his own book. With different characters, different imagery, and a different style.

So that Brooks actually had to sit down and think what his characters were like, what they would say, and how to make them seem real.

I'm just guessing here. I haven't read anything by Brooks.

Solo
2008-06-25, 11:57 PM
And yet, there are quite a few people who read and like both series.

There are plenty of people who like apples. There are also plenty of people who like LSD.

Just thought I'd point that out.

Verruckt
2008-06-26, 10:03 AM
There are plenty of people who like apples. There are also plenty of people who like LSD.

Just thought I'd point that out.

perhaps apples and Vegemite would be more apt. I enjoy Lewis Carrol, I do not enjoy Eragon :smallamused:.

Dervag
2008-06-26, 02:13 PM
There are plenty of people who like apples. There are also plenty of people who like LSD.

Just thought I'd point that out.I think you missed my point.

If the Sword of Shannara series is a simple ripoff of Lord of the Rings, then it would seem logical that anyone who has read Lord of the Rings would despise the Sword series as an inferior ripoff.

And yet, this is not the case. Which suggests that the Sword of Shannara series is not a simple ripoff. For your story to be respected by intelligent people who have already read the story you are ripping off of, you have to put a great deal of your own work into your version of the story. Even if you keep all the plotting, there are only two ways to make the writing as good as the original.

You can produce a perfectly identical copy of the original writing. This will be as good as the original, but will be such a blatant ripoff that it won't sell in a modern market and may get you sued.

Or you can produce your own writing, wrapped around a "stolen" plot. This is very common. It is also a lot of work, enough work that the resulting product is not simply a ripoff. An author cannot save themselves much work by stealing someone else's plot and writing their own convincing and popular novel around it, because it's the process of writing the novel that takes work, not the process of creating an "original plot."