At the Back Fence "Extra"

The Mystery of Cindi Louis' Crazy Thing Called Love

Let Common Sense Prevail

Important new developments added April 24, 2002
(including a restatement of "what we know")
Another update added May 3, 2002 (new information and editorial comments)

Original story reported February 15, 2002
Additional information added February 17, 2002
Forum Comments added February 27, 2002

Let Common Sense Prevail

April 24th:
We at AAR frankly thought this story was "done" back in February, when we reported that Harlequin had sent letters to web sites asking that they remove any reference to Cindi Louis' August 2001 release, Crazy Thing Called Love, as a violation of its copyright. We reported that the book's publisher, HarperCollins, had removed Louis' book from distribution (this after contacting legal counsel for both publishers and visiting numerous web sites that had removed said references). We were able to later report that the copyright infringement complaint was brought on behalf of author Linda Turner for her April 1998 release, The Proposal and further reported that our investigation through the U.S. Copyright Office revealed Harlequin had not registered a U.S. copyright for Turner's book.

We assumed that counsel for both multi-national corporations were evenly matched and that Harper would not take such a drastic move without considerable evidence from Harlequin. So when the May issue of Romantic Times included the following segment in their "Under the Covers" column, we went back into investigative mode. Once again we contacted legal counsel for both publishers, talked to various series authors to make sure we understood the timeline, and backtracked through what we knew from other Internet research and compared it against what RT wrote. That first:

"If April showers bring May flowers, shall we see what's growing in RT's garden this month? Why, gossip of course! For starters those pesky legal troubles between Avon's Cindi Louis and Harlequin's Linda Turner are getting juicier. An author friend of Louis' (who wishes to remain nameless but has, I can assure you relentless readers, an impeccable rep) dishes that the trouble really started when the rookie author (whose debut novel, Crazy Thing Called Love, was allegedly - very important word there! - plagiarized from Turner's) posted the manuscript on her website prior to its publication.

"The highly-respected tattler tells us Louis was unaware and just shocked by the Harlequin charges. 'This whole affair is sooo heartbreaking for those of us who know Cindi, and for Cindi as well. She's a bright, bubbly, talented young woman who is caught up in a mess that may end her career before it even begins. She is not guilty of what she is being accused of. This is very heartbreaking watching her twist in the wind, especially when it appears that no one is willing to ask, who really stole from whom?'

"Hmmmm. Meanwhile, Turner has a sterling record, with 10-plus category novels under her belt in addition the possibly purloined The Proposal. Looks like we're just skimming the surface on what could be a fine mess indeed. Stay tuned as we try to go directly to the horsies' mouths on this case."

It's true that the author who contacted RT has impeccable credentials (we have our sources too). She also hails from and lives in a state roughly a thousand miles away from Louis, who is a native Texan. Based on Internet research, it's hard to pinpoint when the two met and forged their mentor relationship, neither is it clear whether this author would have advised an unpublished author to post her manuscript on the Internet (more on that later).

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Linda Turner, an author with many more than ten published books under her belt, had The Proposal published by Harlequin for their Silhouette Intimate Moments line in April 1998. What we did not know before today is that The Proposal, while published for the mass paperback market in 1998, was first published under Harlequin's Direct Mail Program in December 1997.

Given what we understand of the process from other series authors, it is likely that Turner would have turned in the final manuscript to her editor roughly one year earlier - in December 1996. Then there's the actual time spent writing the book, for which some series authors is as little as six weeks or as long as six months. And, based on what we've learned about the process, authors don't turn in manuscripts of books unless they've had their proposal approved, even if they're already under contract. That approval process takes some months as well.

Suzanne Brockmann, for instance, informed us that her original proposal for Love with the Proper Stranger, published in January 1998, was sent to Harlequin in May of 1996; the final contract and revised proposal occurred five months later, in October. She sent in her manuscript in December and made final revisions in March of the next year. The process for another of her SIM's, Everyday, Average Jones, began with a proposal sent to her publisher in January 1997; the book was released in August 1998. Brockmann adds that sometimes a final manuscript will be published in as few as 9 months after it's been turned in (and, of course, this is after the approval process period), although it's often a year or more. Another SIM author said there's generally a six-month lag between sending in a proposal and gaining approval. She generally works on a book for six months, and after she turns in the final manuscript, it's another year until the book is published.

With this information we've been able to construct a timeline for Turner's The Proposal that has the idea for the book being sent to Harlequin for approval in the first several months of 1996, having the approval given during the middle of the year, and the manuscript being written during the last several months of 1996.

Louis says on her web site that she didn't begin writing until she'd returned from a Romance Slam Jam cruise. The following is a direct quote from her "About Cindi" page (accessed April, 2002):

"I really took my writing seriously about five years ago. When I told my husband I wanted to go on the Romance Slam Jam cruise because some of the authors I like to read would be there too. Well, I went and had a great time.

"While telling my husband about the cruise and the nice time I had with the authors, he went on to say, 'As much as you read you should write.' Huh! He had jokes.

"Well, a few months later I took him up on it."

According to the History of the Romance Slam Jam page, the first two jams were in-store events in 1995 and 1996. The two cruises were in 1997 and 1998.

April 25: In an unusual - and unusually timed - turn of events, the History of the Romance Slam Jam page became unavailable at some point today (the "error 404" message indicates the page was removed). Luckily enough, google's cache version is active, so I've downloaded it to my computer and uploaded it from there for future reference. You can access it here. (It's a very good thing that I not only printed off hard copies of every web page mentioned throughout all the reporting for this article since February but also downloaded some of the pages to my computer, including the page at Cindi Louis' web site sharing with readers that she began writing some months after attending the Slam Jam. While the page itself isn't neat by a long shot when looked at via this link, its source code reveals where it came from.)

Since it takes established writers 6 weeks to 6 months to write a series-length book, it seems logical to assume it would take a first-time writer at least that long to write a 350+ page single title release. Had Louis attended the 1997 Slam Jam cruise (we don't know if she attended in '97 or '98) and begun to write her book "a few months" thereafter, Turner's book would already have been finalized by the time Louis finished her own manuscript and posted it on the Internet.

Setting the timeline aside, there's also the problem of posting an entire manuscript on the Internet and making it available to the public. It's doubtful a publisher would buy such a manuscript because of the concept of "first rights." You see, publishers want to know that what they're going to be selling is the first look at a novel - why sell something somebody could have already read for free?

Okay, so now we've set the timeline aside and will assume for the sake of the argument that Louis sold Harper the rights to her book in 2000 even though it had already been posted on her web site. The next thing we must believe is that Turner then turned the tables on Louis and threatened to sue or had Harlequin threaten to sue for copyright infringement. And since Louis is alleged to have not known anything about any of this until very late in the game (perhaps nearly as late as those letters Harlequin sent out), we must also believe that Harlequin's lawyers can run rings around those who work for Harper, whose lawyers apparently simply rolled over and played dead when confronted by Harlequin's legal might. HarperCollins, in case you didn't know, is owned by The News Corporation, which also owns 20th Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting, Fox News, FX, the National Geographic Channel, TV Guide, and more than two dozen newspapers throughout the world. As for the imprints associated with HarperCollins, they include Avon, HarperTorch, William Morrow, and ReganBooks - in the U.S. alone.

None of this information is hard to come by, and it's also not difficult to pick up the phone and call both sets of lawyers, which is what we did. It appears that the original confidentiality agreement that led to Harper's removing Crazy Thing Called Love from distribution may prevent further official comment, although I have directly communicated with Kyran Cassidy, counsel for HarperCollins, and Helene Levesque, counsel for Harlequin. Should further information from either or both be forthcoming, we'll share it with you as soon as it comes in.

One final word: we understand that the publisher for Louis' next book is not HarperCollins.

Return to the top of the original story, reported February 15th
Post your comments and questions to our Potpourri Forum

 

May 3rd:
In doing even more research on the Cindi Louis/Linda Turner story, I've learned:

When presenting her side of the story, Ms Louis told people that she had written Crazy Thing Called Love in 1995 and posted it on the Internet in 1995/1996, which is where Linda Turner apparently saw it, downloaded it, used it as her own, and then claimed Louis had stolen it from her.

That was a "pioneer" period for the Internet, and online services such as AOL, Genie, CompuServe, and Prodigy really ruled the World Wide Web for most people online. I wrote a column about the Internet at that time for a print newsletter and my first column, published in January 1996, defined terms such as on-line service, newsgroups, bulletin boards, etc. Extremely adventuresome authors such as Stella Cameron and Suzanne Forster did have web sites at the time, but most authors and aspiring authors worked within the confines of on-line services and/or had brief biographical and backlist listings with sites such as writepage.com. So while it would have been highly unlikely for Cindi Louis to have had a web site at that time, to have posted a complete manuscript to it (considering that publishers don't generally buy manuscripts that have already been made available to the public for free), and for Linda Turner to have visited it, it wouldn't have been impossible...

If only...

Cindi Louis hadn't gone on record on a Delphi Forum called The Color of Love Chat Forum in October, 2000 stating "...tune in here for my webpage address." Ms Louis didn't get around to actually giving out her web site address on Delphi until June of 2001, shortly before her book is released. At that time she announced a contest and directed people to her web site.

If you've been to Louis' web site, there is no "date created" at the bottom, but she does, of course tell her story of attending the Romance Slam Jam cruise (held in 1997 and 1998), returning from that wanting to write, and her husband encouraging her to go ahead and do it some months later. If that's the case, then how could she have written her book in 1995?

Why is it that the very day after I reported the dates for the two Slam Jam cruises, was that page mysteriously deleted from the Internet? Louis, btw, lives in Dallas, as do the founders of the Slam Jam, two of whom are booksellers and the third is a well-known author (but not the source mentioned in the RT article). According to the now-removed (but still cached at google and uploaded here at AAR) history page for the Slam Jam, there was no Jam in 1999, but there was in 2000, and it was organized by the Romance Noir Book Club, founded by none other than Cindi Louis. Even more interesting, a "whois" search for the owner of romanceslamjam.com (and that now-removed but critical history page) reveals that she is none other than Cynthia Louis, who is also the "whois" owner of cindilouis.com.

Given that Linda Turner's The Proposal was part of a trilogy, can there be any inferences drawn from the fact that Louis mentions on the Delphi Forum that there will be two additional books to follow Crazy Thing Called Love?

One of the reasons I've followed this story as closely as I have is that there is a wide-spread belief that since so little has been made publically known about this case, that it could not be more than rumor and innuendo. In fact, the moderator of the Delphi Forum stated in February of this year, one week after I first reported the story, that any and all messages posted on the forum referring to plagiarism and Louis' book would be deleted. One of her reasons for doing this was "if there is an accusation out there - it has been kept quiet and for good reason probably. Because nothing has been proven and/or there is no case to begin with." By that time the agreement to pull Louis' book from distribution had already been made, Harlequin had already sent the letters asking that mentions of Louis' book be removed from web sites (with Harper's consent, or Harlequin could not legally have sent the letters), and if the books had not yet been physically removed from distribution, the plan was already in motion.

As for that source with impeccable credentials mentioned in the RT snippet, my guess is that she did not know Louis in 1995/96, did not know what the Internet looked like in 1995/96, and unknowingly accepted Louis' story about writing her book in 1995 and posting it online as fact. It is my opinion from following the Internet trail that:

  • Louis created her web site to coincide with the publication of her book -on her web site, she says she "really took (her) writing seriously about five years ago." If her web site first went online sometime in 2001 prior to the release of her book and we count backward from 2001, starting with 2001, five years earlier puts us in 1997, when the first of the two Romance Slam Jam cruises were held;

  • Louis didn't think Linda Turner would discover the similarities between the two books; and

  • Louis didn't consider that someone looking into this would discover that the information made available on her web site and the History of Romance Slam Jam page don't match her side of the story, which is that she wrote Crazy Thing Called Love before Linda Turner wrote The Proposal, first published in December, 1997.

In my opinion, if Cindi Louis' story is to be believed, then HarperCollins has the most pitiful lawyers in the world to agree with Harlequin that her book must be removed from distribution. And yet, if that's so, why were the Harper lawyers able to keep things so secretive? Harlequin's lawyers are not exactly known for their deft legal handling of copyright infringement cases. Just ask Gina Wilkins, who saw 100 pages of her 1991 Hotline in Gail A. MacFarland's 1999 Arabesque/BET release, When Love Calls. While BET agreed to cease publication of the book, they merely did a "recall" of it and admitted no liability. To this day, copies of When Love Calls continue to be sold. As for the confidentiality agreement Wilkins signed, she cannot say the word "plagiarism" nor could she name the author when she spoke to us back in May of 2000.

When contacted for a statement about this latest case of copyright infringement, Wilkins had this to say: "I used to think the publishers were innocent bystanders in these crimes, but have started considering them as accessories because of the way they protect the plagiarists. My sympathies are, as always, completely with the victim of this latest theft." She added, "I just wish the publishers would step up to the plate and start dealing with this issue, rather than leaving their authors to fend for themselves - i.e., pursuing legal venues against the offending publisher and writer, suing their own writers who sold them stolen material, policing sale of books that should be off the market, etc. The publishers have the resources, they simply won't take advantage of them."

Return to the top of the original story, reported February 15th
Post your comments and questions to our Potpourri Forum

February 15th: (Most of the google cache links included in this section no longer function; I maintain hard copies of everything.)
Yesterday I was asked what I knew about some letters in Mrs. Giggles' Dead Letter Office as written by Laura Sandilands, Business Affairs Administrator for Harlequin demanding that her review of Cindi Louis' Crazy Thing Called Love be removed. The exact text read: "You must remove from your site any reference, promotion, or excerpt of 'Crazy Thing Called Love' written by Cindi Louis. The book is in infringement of our copyrights and therefore any promotion, sale, use or excerpt shall immediately cease."

Since I hadn't a clue, I just did some quick research. According to BYRON, this is the one and only title for Cindi Louis and was published in August. Going next to Amazon, I discovered the only link they have for the book is for a used copy - there were no links to the book as new, and given its publication date in August, I knew something funky was going on. The book seemed to have been pulled from distribution. Barnes and Noble online had no listing at all for the book.

Next, I went to Google, a search engine that allows people to view old versions of pages via their cache function. One of the first links I took was to a Harriet Klausner review at a site called Bookbrowser. The review, still online as of this writing, indicates the publisher is Harper, which matches the letter at Mrs. Giggles' site. For those who may remember, Harper was Janet Dailey's publisher at the time it was determined she had plagiarized Nora Roberts in 1997.

The next link I took was to an Avon site - Avon is a part of HarperCollins. At this site, I found a bio was found for Cindi Louis, but no title when using their search function. In the Google cached version, the title of her book is listed and given a hyperlink. Taking that hyperlink reveals a snippet about the book, as well as an excerpt link, which is empty. This snippet page is actually still on the Avon site, although I could not get to it from anywhere at Avon itself.

At the next link I tried, I checked both the current version of a page and a cached version for a Romance Slam Jam, a conference for AA authors to be held this March. The current page shows no Cindi Louis entries at all, but the cached version shows four nominations for Cindi Louis' Crazy Thing Called Love - for Favorite Hero, New Author of the Year, Single Title of the Year, and Steamiest Title of the Year.

Next I went to Cindi Louis' site. She talks about writing for HarperCollins and St. Martins and provides a "Sneak Peek" at Crazy Thing Called Love and mentions that she sold it in 2000. It does not look as though this page has been updated since before the book was published.

Then I tried more current view/cached views via Google links. The original link at The Romance Reader now gives an "error 404" message, but via the cached link, the 4-heart review is visable (the original url was http://www.theromancereader.com/louis-crazy.html).

Cindi Louis was also apparently a "rising star" at the Romance in Color website. The Google cached url shows that she was a recent rising star as of October 2001. She has been removed as a rising star; the existing page at Romance in Color does not list her name at all.

The Avon Ladies website, administered by a number of Avon authors, once showed not only her name, but the title Crazy Thing Called Love on its Our Books page; in the current view, only her name is listed.

This morning I emailed AAR's contact at HarperCollins and received the following written response: "I'm very sorry that I can not comment on this. I would love to help, but there are legal issues involved, so I'm going to have to remain silent." Having worked on copyright infringement articles before, I know that legally, when agreements are signed, there are some things that cannot be divulged, but always in the past I've at least been able to determine which book and author had her work infringed upon.

So I called Kyran Cassidy, Assistant General Counsel for HarperCollins. When he too said he had no comment, I explained that I'd already found the book had been released, reviews written, nominations for the book made and then all rescinded, he then replied he would get back to me next week.

Hoping to have more luck with Harlequin, one of the aggrieved parties, I called Laura Sandilands, who referred me to their VP of Legal Affairs - Helene Levesque. Ms. Levesque said that the "parties agree there is copyright infringement" but would go no further. She would not divulge the name of the author or title of the book published by Harlequin that had been plagiarized and said that the legal settlement did not allow her to say who the signatories of the agreement were, and whether or not they included the un-named author.

All in all, a frustrating experience. If anything more develops, I'll be sure to let you know.

Return to the top of the original story, reported February 15th

February 17th:
Though I contacted several individuals within the online romance writing community in my effort to determine which author and book had been plagiarized by Cindi Louis, none even knew about the story or had simply been on the receiving end of the same email Mrs. Giggles had received. However, late last night I received an email from an author who shall remain nameless. The book plagiarized by Cindi Louis is The Proposal, a 1998 Silhouette Intimate Moments release by author Linda Turner.

All that comes before are the facts of this story. What comes next is opinion.

After having reported on three copyright infringement cases in the past several years, I've been disturbed by how the author victims seem to be victimized not only by other authors, but by their publishers in these out-of-court settlements. More on that later, but first, some observations that may or may not have any bearing:

  • The publisher of Nora Roberts' Sweet Revenge was Bantam; the publisher of Janet Dailey's Notorious and Aspen Gold was Harper. This case was very public and publically pursued by author Nora Roberts.

  • The publisher of Gina Wilkins' Hotline was Harlequin. The publisher of Gail A. McFarland's When Love Calls was BET. This case was not at all public and author Wilkins had to be extremely careful when discussing her case as the settlement reached (in which BET did not admit any liability) could have been voided had she been more forthcoming in talking about it. We had to edit her written comments to AAR at least twice per her request in order to achieve a comfort level in her going public with us.

  • The publisher of Linda Turner's The Proposal was Harlequin. The publisher of Cindi Louis' Crazy Thing About Love was Harper. This instance has been so well hidden it felt as though I was digging around Area 51 to learn anything, with both publishers being extremely close-mouthed. Harlequin's VP for Legal Affairs said she did not want to divulge the Harlequin author victimized "in order to protect her." Huh?

  • Harlequin doesn't necessarily register its copyrights in the U.S. According to U.S. law, without that registration, a case cannot be taken to court. The cost of registering a copyright in the U.S. is $30.00. (For more information on this, check out this "jump" link.)

  • According to the U.S. Copyright Office (I used the link procedures as set out in the above jump link), Linda Turner is registered for copyright for eight titles. The Proposal is not among them. (Nora Roberts is registered for 78 copyrights. Gina Wilkins is registered for 17 copyrights.)

Plagiarism has been called "mind-rape" by those authors who are victims of it. It seems from my experiences in trying to cover these instances that publishers are trying to sweep it under the rug and that these settlements do not serve any interests other than the publishers; authors whose work is stolen are not allowed to shed light on this dirty little secret and in my estimation are twice victimized, first by a fellow author, and then again by their very own publishers.

There's a very strong stench about this topic and it reminds me of all those lawsuits that are settled with gag orders imposed as part of the settlements. How often have you read in the newspaper that the victim of a tort, a party in a lawsuit, or former employee and potential whistle-blower is forbidden to ever discuss their experience and if they do, whatever monies they won in the settlement must be returned? When this has involved a tort, people have actually died as a result of these "gag orders." No one has died as a result of copyright infringement, but those who steal the work of others should be held up under intense public scrutiny and those whose work has been stolen should be allowed to share their experiences.

This case didn't go to court. Is that because Harlequin never registered a copyright? I don't know, but will assume it might be the reason in this instance. It's hard to imagine a publisher not devoting the time and money to register copyrights, but that might have happened here - without looking into the SOP's of Harlequin, I couldn't say. It looks to this outsider that Harlequin's lawyers and Harper's lawyers hashed out a deal that would at least get Louis' book out of distribution, but without a registered copyright, Harlequin and therefore author Turner had less of a legal leg to stand on than they would have had the copyright been properly registered. And so it seems to me that Harper was able to insert a "gag" order of sorts into the legal agreement signed by all parties.

All of these suppositions are simply that; suppositions. Those items not in the "factual" part of my article are somewhat unclear at this time, which is why I've hedged my statements. I do not want to say something is fact if it is not. For instance, I've been told that the procedure I used to check out the copyrights for Linda Turner may not reveal all her copyrights, that paperbacks are listed differently than hardcovers. I'm opening this up to those of you who know more than I do in order for us all to become educated on this.

-- Laurie Likes Books (with additional investigation by Anne Marble)

Return to the top of the original story, reported February 15th

February 27th:

Subject:Re: Re: Gag orders (my .02c)
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 19:38:17 02/17/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-188-14.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.188.14

Message:
One of the links I gave in my article was via Telnet to the U.S. Copyright Office. There is no copyright registered to Linda Turner for The Proposal, which I think fits in w/my other response to you about lacking a leg to stand on.

TTFN, LLB


Subject:Copyright registration
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 19:51:18 02/17/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-188-14.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.188.14

Message:
Having just learned how to check via Telnet which books are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, I'm interested in knowing which of you authors have checked to make sure you are protected. Is there anything in your contract w/your publisher(s) to guarantee they will register a copyright? How much thought have you given to this, and how many of you have registered for yourself because your publisher(s) did not?

TTFN, LLB


Subject:From info sent to me by Robin
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 22:32:53 02/17/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-188-14.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.188.14

Message:
A reader named Robin sent me this link http://www.sormag.com/louis6.html from the online magazine Shades of Romance posted online this past summer.

I'm pasting the interview in because it will, in all likelihood, have to be removed due to the "Harlequin letter." Of particular interest to me is the sequel planned to Crazy Thing Called Love.

I had the pleasure of meeting Cindi Louis at my first Romance Slam Jam in Dallas, Texas. She was one of the organizers. She was a warm and friendly. She made me feel as if I'd known her forever. She has the best laugh that comes from her heart.

We kept in touch after the conference. When she emailed me that her book was being published. I shouted for her. My girl's dreams were coming true.

At Slam Jam 2001, on the drive home, I got a sneak peak of this book. The winner of the Romance Reader's book basket was my friend. In this basket was an advance copy of the book. Of course I was reading it, and was hooked on page one. I had about a 1/4 left to read when I reached St. Louis.

I wrote Cindi telling her how much I enjoyed what I'd read so far and that the characters were calling me to finish the book. To my surprise she sent me an advance copy for my birthday. I quickly gobbled up the last pages. If you don't have this book, GET IT!

I'd like to introduce you to someone who has become a good friend. She's on her way up on that writer's ladder and I'm so glad to have met her, and I hope you are too.

Shades Of Romance Magazine: What does it feel like to finally see your writing dream come true?

Cindi Louis: That's just it. It is a dream come true. I have been waiting on this for five looong years.

SORM: Describe your current book in 50 words or less:

LOUIS: Crazy Thing Called Love is the story of a no-nonsense Judge, who's had her share of men--that is until the handsome attorney, Jason McNeal try's to knock a hole into her ceiling.

Jason takes the Judge, Jayda Tillman up on her little proposition. They both find this Crazy Thing Called Love right under their own noses.

SORM: What's your favorite scene in the book?

LOUIS: Oh, my. I have a few. You know when a man says, "I love you so much until it hurts." That man loves you. With that said, the scene that stands out to me is: The night that Jason got the call from Detective Ken Lewis to meet him at the Coroner because they found a body. The reason being, when I was writing that scene I asked my husband how would he fell if someone took me? Well, after he stopped laughing and telling me they would bring my back because I would talk them to death. He got very serious and said. "My whole world would stop because you wasn't there to share it with me. Because I love you so much until it hurts." Just by him saying that, I knew the pain Jason was feeling not knowing where Jayda was. He loved her just that much.

SORM: How did you develop the characters in your book?

LOUIS: First I did a character sketch of Jayda. I knew what I wanted her to look and talk like for four years. I pinned her down so good; I can tell you how many gray hairs are in her head. I had become Jayda Tillman. I needed to know what made her tick and why she had so many issues with the opposite sex. For a year, I was a walking, talking, breathing, Jayda Tillman.

Next, I moved on to Jason. In the very beginning I only knew Jason would have dove-gray eyes and wavy black hair. Then one night I was watching my husband work out and knew what Jason was to look like. With the help of my husband, I was able to become Jason. I knew his favorite food. What a man would and would not say. I knew how important family was to him. Then I found out what his issues were and why. I also wanted to give him a sense of humor, which only helped move the story.

Once I put Jason and Jayda in place I worked on their best friends, who played major, but small parts in the story.

SORM: How long did it take it to write your book?

LOUIS: It took me four very long hard years to write CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE. Right when I thought I knew what I was doing, my critique group would ask the 'Big' question--Why? Why did she do that? Why he couldn't see that? Why, Why, Why. Good Lord! I had to take to my bed. No, seriously, I'm glad I have them with me, because after they got through with me, my book was ready to be sent out to a publishing house. Later it was picked up.

SORM: If your book could be made into a movie, whom would you choose to play the lead characters?

LOUIS: If CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE was to be made into a movie, I would choose that drop-dead-gorgeous hunk-of-a-man, Alan Payne to play Jason and Jada Pinkett-Smith to play Jayda. I know Jada could play the no-nonsense Jayda Tillman with ease and Alan has all the charm and sense of humor as Jason.

SORM: What do you think that new romance writers can do to promote interest in their work?

LOUIS: Romance writers can start by getting their name out there. Go to some of the conferences in your area if you can't afford to travel all over the world. They can go to the different message boards and introduce themselves and talk about their book. Have a contest promoting their new book. They should go by some bookstores, just to say "Hello". They should make contact with book clubs. They should have a press kit ready to go, you never know who might want to do a story on you. I know this takes a lot of time, but it will pay off in the long run.

SORM: Who was the greatest influence on your life and on your writing?

LOUIS: The people with the greatest influence on my life and writing are my Mother, Daisy Lavalais. From day one she has always been there, cheering me on. My husband, Tim Louis, he encouraged me to do something with my "wild" imagination. My mentors, Francis Ray, Anna Larence, Beverly Jenkins, and honorable mention Donna Hill. They had--and still do make themselves available for me. I can call them at anytime and they are there. They critiqued my work with firm 'RED' pens, but never made me feel bad about my novel. I'm sure I drove them all to drinking once they finished reading those first three chapters along time ago. I know I drove myself to drinking. (I'm just joking).

They helped me reach my dream. This is what I love about these four women, even though they were on deadline, revisions, or just being with their family they never once complained about reaching back to help another reach their goals. They didn't have to do it, but they did. When Francis Ray, Donna Hill, and Beverly Jenkins started they had no one to call and say, "Can you help me." They paved the way for many authors and I'm just giving credit where credit it due. They all touched my life and made it wonderful.

SORM: What hobbies do you enjoy when you're not writing? I like to sew.

LOUIS: What was the best writer's conference you attended, why? Let's see, the best writer's conference for me was Black Writers Reunion, because I got so much out of the workshops I went to. It was great I have two notebooks full of information that I'm still using today. Then on that Wednesday Avon made me an offer for my book. Yes, I would have to say that was the best one with Romance Slam Jam 2000 coming in a very close second.

SORM: What advice would you give to someone attending their first conference?

LOUIS: Go to the workshops that will benefit you. Only you know what you need to work on in your writing career. Take notes and ask questions.

SORM: What is the latest romance you've read?

LOUIS: That is funny you would ask that question because I just finished reading Francis Ray's story (Southern Comfort) in the anthology 'GOING TO THE CHAPEL'

SORM: How can readers get in touch with you? (email, address, web site)

LOUIS: They may reach me at: reader@cindilouis.con, P.O. Box 411366, Dallas, Texas 75421 or www.cindilouis.com

SORM: Any advice for aspiring romance writers?

LOUIS: My advice to aspiring writers is to write, write, write. Even when you don't feel like it, keep writing until you finish. Once you have finished, step away from it for a few days. That way when you go back to it you will look at it with a new eye and your juices will be flowing again. Then edit and revise it. Join a critique group (they really help). Send it out and believe it will be published. Don't stop there, start on your next book and give it your all as well. Stay focus on where you are trying to go.

Once you are published don't get amnesia and forget where you come from. Remember, you didn't pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Reach back and help the next aspiring author. You will be blessed ten times over.

Stay away from negative people--even if they are family. Why? Because you are trying to reach your dreams and negative people are only a nightmare waiting to happen.

SORM: Can you give us a sneak peek at your next book?

LOUIS: I'm currently wrapping up my second novel, CRAZY ABOUT YOU. This is Marcus and Melissa's story they are the best friends of the hero and heroine in my first book. Their story is a marriage of convenience. The heroine wants a child, but no man. The hero is willing and able to help her out. With her sassy mouth and his quick wit, this pair will have you laughing out loud.

I'd like to thank Shades of Romance and LaShaunda Hoffman for doing a great job. Thanks for reaching back.

SHADES OF ROMANCE MAGAZINE WOULD LIKE TO THANK CINDI FOR TAKING THE TIME TO DO THIS INTERVIEW. WE WISH YOU MANY BLESSINGS WITH YOUR NEW CAREER.

Thanks, Robin.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: I've never checked
From: Pamela Britton
To: All
Date Posted: 10:49:57 02/18/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: hollinet-dyn78.hollinet.com at 207.105.8.78

Message:
Hi, Laurie:

I'll be honest in saying I've never double-checked to see if I've been copyrighted appropriately. One assumes the publisher is doing that adequately. That said, I do remember a brouhaha several years ago regarding Harlequin not registering several copyrights for various author's work. I have no idea if this has been since resolved.

I checked my contract, both with my previous publisher (Harper) and my new publisher (Warner) both indicate that they will be responsible for registering the copyright.

Hope that helps.

Pamela Britton


Subject: Re: I've never checked
From: Sarah
To: All
Date Posted: 11:17:43 02/18/02 ()
Email Address: sarah@weinmans.com
Entered From: 66-108-139-6.nyc.rr.com at 66.108.139.6

Message:
Laurie---

First of all, thanks for the link! I was searching through the web-based version and it's fascinating, especially in terms of when copyrights were registered and for what.

But I think publishers take quite a while to register copyrights; for the 2001 releases that I checked, none were registered thus far. Maybe there's a window of time that must elapse before publishers do so, or before the LOC accepts them, but that's speculation, of course.

But this whole brouhaha is plenty interesting, that is for sure...

Sarah


Subject: Re: I've never checked
From: Kathryn Smith
To: All
Date Posted: 12:34:21 02/18/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: ottawa-ppp-198818.sympatico.ca at 209.226.118.87

Message:
This came up a year or two ago with some other authors I talk to. It was discovered that sometimes it does take the LoC awhile to get the info up, whether that's a publisher error or LoC's, I'm not sure. It was also discovered that even though a search might not turn up a book that doesn't mean it isn't registered, if memory serves. I do know that Avon/Harper registers their books.


Subject:Re: my 2 cents
From: Sandy L, PA
To: All
Date Posted: 19:59:40 02/18/02 ()
Email Address: lunsford@nni.com
Entered From: at 216.107.3.60

Message:
I was in a writers' group over 10 years ago. There was a member in that group who had one of her ideas "scooped" by a professional writer. She had told the professional writer her idea and wanted an opinion. The professional writer liked the idea so much that she wrote her own version and sold it. By the time my friend had written her idea the publisher wasn't interested. "It had already been done." I can't help but wonder exactly what was plagarized and how much. Was it the idea? Or whole sections taken verbatim? I read Laurie's article, but recall that any specifics beyond the charge of plagarism were given.

I know this board has had discussions in the past about how there are not that many plots an author can use. Especially in historicals.

This probably only relates in my brain!


Subject:Re: Re: my 2 cents
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 20:21:51 02/18/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-217-219-185.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.217.219.185

Message:
According to my source, the plagiarism was extensive and blatant. Had it not been, I doubt Harper would have yanked the book from distribution.

TTFN, LLB


Subject:Re: Copyright registration
From: Terri Brisbin
To: All
Date Posted: 22:05:56 02/18/02 ()
Email Address: TerriBrisbin@aol.com
Entered From: spider-wq062.proxy.aol.com at 205.188.200.182

Message:
I write for Berkley and Harlequin -- Berkley does register the copyrights of my books as required in my contract. Harlequin reserves the right to, but does not register them.

I have checked at various times and the books do show up on the LoC website, but it takes time! Now, with the Copyright Office not getting mail since last October (anthrax found in their post office), registration will take even longer....


Subject: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 22:24:42 02/18/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-217-219-185.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.217.219.185

Message:
I'm glad Berkley registers copyrights, but don't understand Harlequin's position at all. Have you any idea why they don't? Do you do it for yourself instead?

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Copyright registration
From: Terri Brisbin
To: All
Date Posted: 22:38:10 02/18/02 ()
Email Address: TerriBrisbin@aol.com
Entered From: spider-wq062.proxy.aol.com at 205.188.200.182

Message:
Laurie --

My understanding is that Harlequin's business HQ is in Switzerland and so they believe they are covered by the Berne convention. I think it has to do with the number of books released per month and the additional expense it would cost.

I do know many H/S authors who register their books themselves and I will be registering my upcoming release.


Subject: It's (still) out there
From: judym
To: All
Date Posted: 21:03:27 02/17/02 ()
Email Address: judymishkin@mediaone.net
Entered From: h002078cfbeb0.ne.mediaone.net at 66.31.66.23

Message:
"Crazy Thing Called Love" was still for sale at the local Border's today.


Subject:Re: Re: my 2 cents
From: June
To: All
Date Posted: 22:45:28 02/18/02 ()
Email Address: june@diaverse.com
Entered From: bgp989173bgs.madsnh01.mi.comcast.net at 68.41.145.73

Message:
Just FYI regarding copyright. I'm not a lawyer, but this is my understanding of how it works:

Ideas cannot be copyrighted. Written work is copyrighted from the moment it is written. If your friend had given the author pages to read and the author had used them to create a book it would be plagerism. Since she simply TOLD the author the idea, it wasn't. A good reason not to tell your ideas to anyone you don't absolutely trust.

--June


Subject:Re: Copyright registration
From: Sue Swift
To: All
Date Posted: 10:27:58 02/19/02 ()
Email Address: sue@sue-swift.com
Entered From: at 12.81.128.120

Message:
The rumor is that H/S doesn't register copyrights, but that they have the right to do so. I registered the copyright of my first book, which was pubbed by Zebra.

I'm sorry for the writer who's work was stolen, but glad this fracas has arisen...it's reminded me that I have to register my next two books, which I will do this week.

It's a $30 fee, I believe, and a simple two page form. No big deal.


Subject: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 16:25:15 02/19/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-190-59.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.190.59

Message:
Sue -

Until this particular instance arose, I assumed as a matter of course that every single publisher routinely registered books for copyright. It's a relatively inexpensive thing to do and in my mind, should be done as soon as every book leaves the warehouse for distribution.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: Sue Swift
To: All
Date Posted: 17:44:07 02/19/02 ()
Email Address: sue@sue-swift.com
Entered From: at 12.81.129.240

Message:
One would think so, but I'm told by many more experienced authors that this doesn't happen.
I guess that the publishers don't want to go to the expense. For example, how many books does H/S publish every month? About 100? That's $3000; multiply that by 12 and you get $36,000, the amount they're saving annually. Factor in the low probability of infringement occurring. Add to that the time that registration would take their employees to accomplish. It all adds up to a compelling argument to save rather than spend the money. Given that when word gets around most writers will register their copyrights...just like I'm doing right now...it's no wonder that many pubs don't register.


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 17:59:02 02/19/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-190-59.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.190.59

Message:
Yes, it does add up, but somehow I had envisioned they had a person doing nothing but that...and that was their entire job, to assure that their rights and the rights of the authors who they contract w/are protected. I don't consider it a $36,000 savings; I consider it penny-wise, pound foolish.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: June
To: All
Date Posted: 19:22:35 02/19/02 ()
Email Address: june@diaverse.com
Entered From: bgp989173bgs.madsnh01.mi.comcast.net at 68.41.145.73

Message:
This may be a matter, in part, of a difference in national mindsets. Many countries (Canada for example) don't have a mechanism for 'registering' copyrights. A work is copyrighted from its creation and a published book with the copyright date in it would be enough to go to court for infringement. The H/S brass, not being Americans, might not see the registration as being as important as American authors would.

Just another possibility.

--June


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 19:33:35 02/19/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-190-59.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.190.59

Message:
If Ma and Pa Kettle ran Harlequin, I could believe that. But Harlequin is a very sophisticated company that publishes editions in many nations and is, I'm sure, well versed in the legalities and intricacies of doing business in the U.S.

Do you remember that a few years ago Harlequin filed sued against a small publisher called Ponder for copyright infringement not over a book, but for a phrase, a tag line of some sort? I can't remember all the details, but remember that they were quite diligent about protecting what they perceived as their own.

I find it amazing that this huge multi-national corporation would pursue that type of action against a very small publisher while at the same time not protecting it's own authors.

You might want to check out Modeen Moon's post made not long ago on this MB; it's fascinating.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Copyright registration (Long, with citations)
From: Modean Moon
To: All
Date Posted: 18:25:43 02/19/02 ()
Email Address: mmoon@sff.net
Entered From: at 12.19.118.131

Message:
: HI, Laurie -- (waves -- hi, everyone) Coming out of deep lurkdom to respond to this question. I'm one of the Harlequin authors who discovered my work was not registered. I've since registered it.

There is much discussion about the necessity of copyright registration, including a deep resentment by some of anyone who suggests that registration is necessary. Since I suspect you (Laurie) are going to be receiving some correspondence regarding that, I'm reposting here a post I made to another list earlier today, with the identifying tags filed off so that only MY words are shared. The exceptions in Section 106A (a) and (b) apply to works of VISUAL ART and are not applicable to the written works.

Thank you for providing the information that you did.

Repost: (Sorry, apparently the bold face I intended got lost; I'll put in some non-shouting caps to break up the work; in addition to the "shouting: caps I have already included.)

I feel strongly about this Laurie, so you have my permission to quote me.
--

Okay. One more time. Without registration we cannot even go to
court. (my comments in Bold face)

>From http://www.loc.gov/copyright/faq.html

13.Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from
the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, section Copyright Registration.

14.Why should I register my work if copyright protection is
automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose
to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their
copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, section Copyright Registration and Circular 38b on non-U.S. works.

AND IF THE COPYRIGHT FAQ IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO REFUTE THE
CLAIMS ATTRIBUTED TO HARLEQUIN THAT REGISTRATION IS
NOT REQUIRED IN ORDER TO BRING SUIT, here is a section of the
applicable LAW:
http://www.loc.gov/copyright/title17/92chap4.html#411

� 411. Registration and infringement actions10

(a) Except for an action brought for a violation of the rights of the
author under section 106A(a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b), no action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In any case, however, where the deposit, application, and fee required for registration have been delivered to the Copyright Office in proper form and registration has been refused, the applicant is entitled to institute an action for infringement if notice thereof, with a copy of the complaint, is served on the Register of Copyrights. The Register may, at his or her option, become a party to the action with respect to the issue of registrability of the copyright claim by entering an
appearance within sixty days after such service, but the Register's
failure to become a party shall not deprive the court of jurisdiction to determine that issue.

ALSO TROUBLING, but something I've not been able to find an answer
for, is my doubt that Harlequin is meeting the mandatory deposit
requirements of the US Copyright office:
http://www.loc.gov/copyright/title17/92chap4.html#407

� 407. Deposit of copies or phonorecords for Library of
Congress7

(a) Except as provided by subsection (c), and subject to the
provisions of subsection (e), the owner of copyright or of the exclusive right of publication in a work published in the United States shall deposit, within three months after the date of such
publication-

(1) two complete copies of the best edition; or
(snipped)

AND FURTHER AS TO ATTORNEY'S FEES and additional costs:

� 412. Registration as prerequisite to certain remedies for
infringement11

In any action under this title, other than an action brought for a
violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a) or an action instituted under section 411(b), no award of statutory damages
or of attorney's fees, as provided by sections 504 and 505, shall be
made for-

(1) any infringement of copyright in an unpublished work commenced
before the effective date of its registration; or

(2) any infringement of copyright commenced after first publication of
the work and before the effective date of its registration, unless such registration is made within three months after the first publication of the work.

ALSO, THERE is a lot of information about whether we can/cannot
prohibit the importation of pirated copies of our work, which we
CANNOT STOP without registration. See:

� 601. Manufacture, importation, and public distribution of
certain copies1

(a) Prior to July 1, 1986, and except as provided by subsection (b),
the importation into or public distribution in the United States of copies of a work consisting preponderantly of nondramatic literary material that is in the English language and is protected under this title is prohibited unless the portions consisting of such material have been manufactured in the United States or Canada.

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) do not apply-

AND FORWARD

AS TO THE MAIL PROBLEM AT THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE:
http://www.loc.gov/copyright/mail.html
sets out that NO MAIL has been RECEIVED by the copyright office, not
that they are NOT OPENING the mail, and gives alternatives for
delivery.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS (by me)

I feel strongly enough about this issue that I registered all of my
copyrights. I found on search that not only had Harlequin not
registered any since 1991, the date of the Berne convention, which, I have been told Harlequin uses as the cut-off date for necessary registration, that there were some (but not all -- why?) of my books from the '80s that were not registered.

The copyright office at that time stated that even though registration
took effect on the date the materials were received, it might take as long as eight months for the certificates to be returned. It did. And it took almost a year from the date of registration for them to show up in the registration database (separate from the LOC card file).

When information first started trickling out, many of us could not
believe that Harlequin was not registering the copyrights: our contracts called for it, didn't they? Well, no, they don't. and in my opinion, this is a deliberate evasion on the part of Harlequin corporate. NOT ONLY DID THEY NOT PROTECT US FULLY, THEY LIED BY OMISSION AND LEFT US OPEN TO REDUCED RECOVERIES, even though that same contract states that if we do recover anything, they are entitled to HALF of it.

Anyway, I found the LOC telnet site and began exploring. IT SIMPLY IS
NOT TRUE that standard procedure is for publishers NOT to register
copyrights. I do copyediting and proofreading for a (non-romance)
genre publisher. The registration clerk there spluttered coffee when I asked her. "Of course we register!" An editor on another list asked several times, "They're not registering? WHY are they not registering? They're NOT REGISTERING?" (Paraphrases of each, from memory, but darned close to verbatim.)

The mechanisms for checking registration have gotten a lot simpler:
there's now a web interface so you don't have to use the Telnet
Bulletin Board type interface. Go to:
http://www.loc.gov/copyright/search/
to do a search. Note also that a big gulp of Nora Roberts'
Silhouettes WERE REGISTERED AFTER the plagiarism case.

To check the claims that these are not being registered, pick a
selection of non-Harlequin books by several publishers. Make sure these books are at least a year old (maybe eighteen months, now, because of the delay since 9/11) and check the authors' names in the database.

AS TO STRONGER COPYRIGHT LAWS:
We have strong and effective copyright laws and the longest protection
in history (or the world). What good would more copyright laws do, if we are not even taking advantage of the ones we have now?

Modean Moon

--
http://www.sff.net/people/mmoon
DARE TO DREAM, first published as a Harlequin American, available now from Embiid Books (http://www.embiid.net)
http://members.tripod.com/modean_moon/daretodream.htm


Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: June
To: All
Date Posted: 20:35:08 02/19/02 ()
Email Address: june@diaverse.com
Entered From: bgp989173bgs.madsnh01.mi.comcast.net at 68.41.145.73

Message:
Modeen's post is very interesting. I can't speak to whether H/S is right or wrong, but their rational makes a certain economic sense.

First, they can, so far as I know, register any material they have to litigate in the US. Not registering anything that doesn't require litigation probably saves them a lot of money. Whether it's RIGHT or not -- well, I don't feel fit to judge.

Second, international copyright is supposed to be recognized by the US. Therefore something published under British or Canadian laws should be valid in the US -- but, the lawyers I know tell me this is really complicated so the reality is 'maybe, maybe not'. I don't know, not being a lawyer. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if even very savvy business people outside this country don't realize that American courts might not honor the Bern convention rules in all cases.

Beyond that, from everything I hear, actually taking a plagerizm case to court is dicey. The process is lengthy, expensive, and the cases are hard to win even with solid evidence. Most companies, it seems, prefer to do quiet, out of court settlements instead. This seems to be what Harlequin is going after in this case. The one friend I have who pursued a plagerizm case took an out-of-court settlement and was glad for it. He never could have afforded to pursue the case to conclusion if the people in question hadn't agreed to settle.

So, though I certainly agree that is is just wrong to IMPLY that you are registering when you are not, I can kind of understand why the publisher WOULDN'T register.

Course, that's just my take on things. Others will disagree.

--June


Subject:Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: 21:09:27 02/19/02 ()
Email Address:
Entered From: adsl-64-123-190-59.dsl.rcsntx.swbell.net at 64.123.190.59

Message:
June -

I suspect we will always disagree on this. I do not think saving $36,000 over the course of a year makes a whole lot of economic sense in a multinational corporation the size of Harlequin. If their profit margin is that thin, something is wrong that all the copyrights in the world won't fix.

There have been enough copyright infringement situations that have cropped over over time that any additional support a registered U.S. copyright could provide could only help; and at $30 per book, it's not a huge economic issue. What remains is that an author was victimized and could have had a better legal leg to stand on had her book been copyrighted; whether authors now try to work this into their contracts w/Harlequin that other publishers now provide as a matter of course is something that remains to be seen.

TTFN, LLB


Subject:Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: June
To: All
Date Posted: 08:54:35 02/20/02 ()
Email Address: june@diaverse.com
Entered From: bgp989173bgs.madsnh01.mi.comcast.net at 68.41.145.73

Message:
Probably will just disagree. Which happens from time to time.

I have to make clear here that I think it is WRONG of the publisher. But, I tend to think that, while everything you say is true, they are unlikely to decide to spend the time and money to actually prosecute a plagerism case so their $36,000 spent wouldn't gain them much in the long run.

I DO agree that author's rights are not being considered fully here -- but I also am not terribly surprised by that.

--June


Subject: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: Elizabeth Moon
To: All
Date Posted: 00:06:15 02/20/02 ()
Email Address: elizabeth.moon@sff.net
Entered From: ppp0162.killeen.n-link.com at 208.24.232.162

Message:
: The rumor is that H/S doesn't register copyrights, but that they have the right to do so. I registered the copyright of my first book, which was pubbed by Zebra.

: I'm sorry for the writer who's work was stolen, but glad this fracas has arisen...it's reminded me that I have to register my next two books, which I will do this week.

: It's a $30 fee, I believe, and a simple two page form. No big deal.

It's a big deal if you have to pay $30 each for a bunch of stories, each of which didn't make a wad to start with...

(She mentally multiplies $30 by lotsa stories and two pages by the same number and comes up with more money than she planned to spend this week plus WAY more time filling out forms than planned....)

Elizabeth, wincing but determined.


Subject:Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Copyright registration
From: Elizabeth Moon
To: All
Date Posted: 00:15:10 02/20/02 ()
Email Address: elizabeth.moon@sff.net
Entered From: ppp0162.killeen.dashlink.com at 208.24.232.162

Message:

Whether it's smart or stupid...if the contract the author signed says that the publisher will register the copyright, and the publisher does not register the copyright, then the publisher is at fault, legally, for not living up to the terms of the contract. The cost of registering the copyright is one of those predictable costs of production, far less than the cost of paper, binding, or an ad in just about any venue--it's the cost of doing business, and they signed up to do it.

This, at least, is the tack I will be taking with my (former) publisher who, I find, failed to register three of my books...it's in the contract, so do it, and do it yesterday.

If, on the other hand, the publisher did not contract to register the copyright, then the publisher has no legal obligation to do so. While it would be polite for the publisher to point out to the author that they are not, in fact, registering the copyright, they don't have to do that, either, if it's not in the contract.

I cast wary eyes on my contracts, and expect my agent to do the same.

Elizabeth


Subject:Re: Re: my 2 cents
From: Sarah
To: All
Date Posted: 12:58:20 02/20/02 ()
Email Address: sarah@hayllar.com
Entered From: 208-39-148-189.comcasttel.net at 208.39.148.189

Message:
There's a wonderful play that's been made into a movie for PBS with Linda Lavin and Samantha Mathis that addresses the idea of to whom a story truly belongs. I can't recommend it more. It's called "Collected Stories," and I don't know if it's still being broadcast, but if you catch it, enjoy.

Return to the top of the original story, reported February 15th

Post your comments and questions to our Potpourri Forum
Find links to the Nora Roberts/Janet Dailey copyright infringement incident here
Read our Write Byte with Gina Wilkins about her copyright infringement experience

 

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