Intelligence < Digital Divide

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Intelligence < Digital Divide

Chrysophase2003
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February 14th, 2013, 7:35 pm #1

I'm sorry to hear what's going on with the production of the new TV show that pretty much rips off your story. I can't tell you how many ideas I've had to abandon because editors say I'm ripping off someone who actually came later. The movie Gamer was a conceptual copy of a short story I wrote several years prior, but that's my fault for not spending the money to copyright my work so I had a leg to stand on in court.

In any case, it may behoove you to consult a lawyer. You may not be able to prove plagiarism of your intellectual property, but even if you couldn't, it would gain media attention, get you some more site traffic, tarnish the premiere of this new TV series, and possibly catch the eye of someone looking for a good screenplay writer. That's how my grandfather got hired to write scripts for "Touched by an Angel."

Best of luck because I'm too broke to offer anything else.

Edit: I've crowdsourced a response and the general consensus is that you should totally let Tom Clancy know about this epic act of douchebaggery. The guy probably knows people by now, and government intelligence and conspiracy writers should stick together; after all, everyone's out to get you. 0_0
If you can't live without me, why aren't you dead yet?

I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

If God wants all the credit, he's getting all the blame.
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PyroKinetics
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February 14th, 2013, 9:19 pm #2

This made me rage so hard.


Been following the comic for as long as i care to remember, and constantly share it on my facebook (to many people's chagrin). This, however, is blatant plagiarism.

Sue the fuckers! Sue them until they bleed!!
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Otter
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February 14th, 2013, 11:00 pm #3

Edit: Welcome PyroKinetics! /Edit

Well, we are dealing with recognizable themes here. "Chip in the head," "government agency," and "perceive things unseen" are all well-known tropes. It's how they are put to use that defines them. Similarities and commonalities are very different things.

I have been talking with a lawyer, and there is nothing that can -or should- be done at this point because their creative projects literally do not exist at the present time. AGAHF and "Digital Divide," however, do. The best course of action that I can take is the one we've already been working towards as a group... We need to get the word of the comic out, and get "Digital Divide" into print and into a wider readership. This is all we need to do is to make sure that this world I have been building for seven years is recognized as both original and predating these other projects.

There is no date as of yet on the television show, and the novels it is based on don't come out until 2014. I'll keep working behind the scenes here (with a lawyer, no worries), and when "Digital Divide" comes out, we'll all do what we can to spread my novel around like nuts. If we do that, there's no fight because we've already defined this content as ours, not theirs.

This is the Internet. If nothing else, we all love to get angry and fight for our favorite creators. I adore that about us! But we need to know if there's actually a fight here first, and there's no evidence of that just yet.

- Never send a ferret to do a weasel's work.

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Chrysophase2003
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February 14th, 2013, 11:19 pm #4

How can a TV show be based on novels that haven't come out yet? That's the cart before the horse and the exact sort of thing I would expect someone who's trying to cover their own ass to do. In any case, I'll be happy to link your work to as many people as I can. I write for AlterGamer.com currently, and was thinking about putting an article together about intellectual property rights across different mediums, primarily on how the gaps in property laws allow what could be considered plagiarism when you translate a story from one medium to another. I've even plagiarized myself a couple times doing this.

If you'd consent to a short email interview on the subject, I could probably spin the story to get your plight out there. Lemme know what you think.
If you can't live without me, why aren't you dead yet?

I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

If God wants all the credit, he's getting all the blame.
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Otter
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February 14th, 2013, 11:27 pm #5

Chrysophase2003 wrote: I write for AlterGamer.com currently, and was thinking about putting an article together about intellectual property rights across different mediums, primarily on how the gaps in property laws allow what could be considered plagiarism when you translate a story from one medium to another.
I'm always happy to do interviews, and congratulations on writing for AlterGamer!

As for the carty-horsey issue, that's why I called my lawyer. Trust me, I'm on top of this like jimmies on frosting on cupcakes.
- Never send a ferret to do a weasel's work.

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tanonev
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February 15th, 2013, 12:52 am #6

wrote:Well, we are dealing with recognizable themes here. "Chip in the head," "government agency," and "perceive things unseen" are all well-known tropes. It's how they are put to use that defines them. Similarities and commonalities are very different things.
This. If you want to see prior work that predates both Digital Divide and Intelligence, look no further than the concept of the Starcraft Ghost, a psionic (like Hope!) covert ops specialist (like Pat!) with ocular implants (like The Chip!) as well as government-mandated mental conditioning to keep their powers in check (like Bitty Bush!), first introduced in 1998 as a game unit and subsequently featured as the protagonists of several novels set in the same universe. Of course, just because the technologies are reminiscent of each other doesn't mean the stories are at all similar to each other, let alone plagiarized; Starcraft is a(n arguably dystopian) space cowboy scenario pitting human ingenuity and determination against impending annihiliation at the hands of aliens, while AGaHF and Digital Divide are set in our times, the former an exploration of how science and metaphysics could collide, and the latter a murder mystery coupled with self-discovery and acceptance in the face of discrimination. OACET is arguably a lot closer in theme to the X-Men than to the Starcraft Ghosts.

Given the limited information on Intelligence, this looks a lot more like a "wait and see" situation than a pitchfork mob one, as the themes are likely to be significantly different, even if the technology is vaguely similar (and remember, The Chip is far more than built-in full-spectrum goggles, which is all Intelligence's blurb currently describes). Flooding the comments of entertainment sites with "This is an obvious ripoff of Digital Divide" (which is jumping to conclusions, plain and simple) is far less likely to be effective than flooding the comments with "If the premise of this show interests you, you should check out Digital Divide."
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Chrysophase2003
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February 15th, 2013, 8:43 pm #7

Fair point. I would say that the apparent intent to produce the show prior to the books being released is an attempt to televise a series that someone along the line knows may be questionable in terms of ownership. Though I freely admit that's speculation. The issue here is that intellectual property laws in the US as they are now define plagiarism of a copyrighted work in several ways. The first and most immediate is that sections of one work are placed in another verbatim. That's easy to spot.

Another is when you present a character, for example Sherlock Holmes, who is so obviously Holmes that anyone could spot it even if the name had been changed. (Yes, I know the copyright on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle has since expired, making it fair game).

One more is in visual mediums when you base the appearance of a character off of another to the degree that the new character has no "valuable" distinguishing feature from the original. The definition of valuable is what's contested in court.

The one we're dealing with here combines sequence of events and inclusion of themes. In court, or so my research has suggested (I'm fallible here, same as anyone else), for a copyright violation to be found the judge must find that the majority (which is not clearly defined) of a given work is clearly influenced by another or previous work. In other words, if you were to chop up and paste together the plots from two different novels, someone could make a case against you. If you were to use a portion of the plot from a different novel and supplement your own material, the majority of the work would not be someone else's, so you'd be in the clear. In these cases, it is the claimant's job to prove that the written work is made up of other works. That's the tricky part.

Here's another tricky part. Historically, judges have been difficult to convince that a copyright violation has occurred if a given work is transferred from one medium to the next. Take Bram Stoker's Dracula for instance. Bram Stoker's widow refused to let filmmakers turn the book into a film, so the filmmakers just changed the names around. That wouldn't work if it had gone from one book to the next, but since it went from a written to a visual medium, the film Nosferatu was deemed to have sufficient original content to be a new work.

I agree that it remains to be seen if this TV show has sufficient original content to be deemed a new work. But it would be complacent to assume that no copyright violation will take place and not to take this time to get our collective ducks in a row.

Incidentally, Otter, this is going to be the general topic of discussion for my upcoming article. Since it's a gaming magazine it will feature copyright violations from books and movies to games, but I was hoping to widen the scope of things for the reader by including mention of your work and current goings on. If it's alright with you, I'll be sending a few questions along within the next few days. I just need to clear things with my editor first. Direct message through the forum alright? For working online I'm a complete luddite.
If you can't live without me, why aren't you dead yet?

I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

If God wants all the credit, he's getting all the blame.
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tanonev
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February 15th, 2013, 9:01 pm #8

wrote:But it would be complacent to assume that no copyright violation will take place and not to take this time to get our collective ducks in a row.
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. But "getting our collective ducks in a row" means documenting things carefully and keeping close tabs on the show, NOT flooding the comments section of sites announcing the TV shows with brash claims that the show is "obviously a ripoff" based on a single-paragraph description. I'm only bringing this up because people have already been doing this, and there is no way that that behavior can end well for any party.
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Otter
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February 15th, 2013, 9:46 pm #9

tanonev wrote:there is no way that that behavior can end well for any party.
This. Unfortunately, this includes me. I had to go on the "Dissident" author's blog today and address why my readership has had a very enthusiastic response to the news of "Intelligence." On the one hand, I love how supportive you guys have been over the last two days. On the other, there's no evidence as of yet that AGAHF needs support. You can imagine that this has left me in a very difficult place; readers are defending AGAHF --and by proxy, me-- and there is no way I can't respect or appreciate that! It's really moved me to tears, especially since this last year has been very difficult for me and my family, and I have considered walking away from these projects. But if it turns out that I do need the readers to defend AGAHF at a later time (hypothetically, when the pilot airs!), these current events will make it appear as though I have cried wolf, or was looking for a fight.

Please trust me to handle this. I am adamant about protecting my rights and creative property. Hopefully one day I will reach a place where I am successful enough to help other new authors/artists do the same. But for the meantime, let's everybody just hope for the best while my lawyer and I prepare for the worst.


Chrysophase2003: I'm happy to do an interview! You can certainly message me at your convenience.

Edited to add name of book.
- Never send a ferret to do a weasel's work.

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Minivet
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February 16th, 2013, 7:14 pm #10

Let's keep in mind that plagiarism or more generally ripping someone off is not the same as copyright violation. There's a general principle that you copyright words, not ideas (see 17 USC 102(b)); there's more complexity on top of that, but there's lots of ways for people to appropriate work, which might call for public condemnation, but not be illegal.

And of course, as Otter says, what we know of this other work so far is not even all that close.

Chrysophase, I'd be interested in seeing what cases show it being a violation if "the majority... of a given work is clearly influenced by another or previous work." It seems to clash with Baker v. Selden, though I'm new to all this. I also found Burnett v. Lambino, where two works shared a main character who was a vocational school teacher, other main characters with roughly the same interrelationships, a lot of similar plot points and minor characters (even references to the same orchestra leader), and the writers of the later work plausibly had access to the earlier one, but the judgment was still that similar ideas, themes, plots, etc. did not constitute copying.
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