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Typical high school underdog story - I think

LonelyDad

It has been a while, and I don't remember where I read this, but I would like to read it again. High school student is ostracized and sometimes bullied. At a school dance he sees a girl being accosted by a couple of the 'beautiful people' students and goes to her rescue. He gets roughed up, but nothing is done by dance chaperones to the bad guys. He suspected this might occur and had someone ready to video the incident, and threatens to sue bad guys and compliant chaperones. Don't remember anything else about the story. Does this ring a bell with anyone? TIA

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@LonelyDad

I think I can remember something vaguely similar in one of Jay Cantrell's stories. Possibly 'Unforgettable Weeks'?

AJ

Replies:   LonelyDad
LonelyDad

@awnlee jawking

Nope. This goes back several years. I found an old email where I asked this question to one of the author's forums a couple of years ago, and it had been a year or two already by then. But thanks for responding.

jr88

It sounds vaguely like Princes of Mannsborough by Vulgar Argot.

http://storiesonline.net/s/42565/princes-of-mannsborough

Oyster
Updated:

At first I thought it could have been DeeBee's "Whatever the Cost", but the time frame does not fit. Nevertheless here are the links as one of the storylines is nearly identical to what you described.

http://storiesonline.net/a/DeeBee

http://storiesonline.net/s/10095/whatever-it-costs

Vlad_Inhaler

Spirals by Lellan McLemore does not quite fit, but in case your memory of the story is a bit inaccurate:
http://storiesonline.net/s/52022/spirals from 2007.

blacksash

I started reading Spirals and the resemblance with Marc Nobb's A good man plot is striking. I don't know which one of them stories you're after, but they are very similar. Even the MC surname Robertson and Robinson are.
http://storiesonline.net/s/69435/a-good-man-tutelam-venit-book-one

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@blacksash

See the comments under "Not sure this is the right spot..." thread started yesterday. Response by Lazeez

PeckingChicken

Lazeez's definition of plagiarism is kind of questionable, but it's his site (and his liability).

Replies:   jimh67
jimh67

@PeckingChicken

Under Lazeez's definition apparently I can gently tweak a John Grisham novel and post it here. That should get the downloads.

Uwe1860

@jimh67

And it will be so worth the effort for you. Knock yourself out.

Ernest Bywater

@jimh67

Under Lazeez's definition apparently I can gently tweak a John Grisham novel and post it here. That should get the downloads.


If I were you, I'd talk to Lazeez about it first. Because he when he sees something he thinks is plagiarism he usually speaks to the original author about it, and if they give approval it's no longer plagiarism.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@jimh67

Under Lazeez's definition apparently I can gently tweak a John Grisham novel and post it here.


No, 'gently tweaking' won't work. You'll have to rewrite the whole thing, every sentence . I ran a diff on the two books in question and didn't find identical phrases. Totally rewritten.

Remember, there is no copyright for ideas, only actual text. In this case no actual text remained from the original.

Replies:   Oyster
Oyster

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Your last statement cannot be true and I'd even call it blatantly false.

Examples off the top of my head:
J. Michael Straczynski had to hunt down a Babylon 5 fan who came up with the same plot for an episode as he did and posted it on a forum that JMS frequented.

Harlan Ellison's name was added to the Terminator credits after he filed a suit alleging that the story was a mix of two Outer Limits episodes he wrote.

Paul Verhoeven had to acquire the film rights to Starship Troopers after someone pointed out that the script had some basic ideas and plot points that were similar to the book.

How about superheroes like Superman or Batman? Just character ideas, but still protected by copyright.

---

In the case of "Spirals" and "A Good Man" there is more than just a basic plot similarity, as one reviewer put it:
"It would have been better yet if the story (without the ending) had not been a clone of another story on line from 1997."
There are whole scenes and plot threads that are retold scene for scene. The only way this would be okay is if it was the same author or if the "new" story acknowledged the original in some way (which I do not think it does).

And regarding your first statement:
So if I take a story, run it through a thesaurus (or maybe gorewrite or complex sentence generator) a few times so no two phrases remain the same and clean it up I could post it here as my own work with your blessing?

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Oyster

J. Michael Straczynski had to hunt down a Babylon 5 fan who came up with the same plot for an episode as he did and posted it on a forum that JMS frequented.


That he hunted the fan down is not proof that he was legally obligated to do so.

Taking ideas from fans without credit is a good way to alienate a fan base.

Harlan Ellison's name was added to the Terminator credits after he filed a suit alleging that the story was a mix of two Outer Limits episodes he wrote.


An out of court settlement, particularly such a simple one is not proof that a plaintiff could have won on the merits at trial.

Paul Verhoeven had to acquire the film rights to Starship Troopers after someone pointed out that the script had some basic ideas and plot points that were similar to the book.


The major studios are sensitive about copyright and trademark issues. Often, more sensitive than the law actually requires. It's a professional courtesy issue.


How about superheroes like Superman or Batman? Just character ideas, but still protected by copyright.


You are wrong. Characters, particularly visual comic/tv/movie characters are protected by trademark, not copyright.

Replies:   Oyster  Ernest Bywater
Oyster

@Dominions Son

Okay, characters are protected by trademark not copyright, noted.
Still, ideas can be protected via copyright, trademark or patent (see Namco's patent on mini games on loading screens for example).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Oyster


Still, ideas can be protected via copyright, trademark or patent (see Namco's patent on mini games on loading screens for example).


Not under US law.

Ideas are protected only by patents.

Trademarks protect names, phrases and some images.

Copyright protects music, text, and images.

ETA: These are three completely separate concepts with entirely different rules. However the conflation of these concepts under the term "intellectual property" has lead many people to confuse the rules between them.

Replies:   Oyster
Oyster

@Dominions Son

I am neither a lawyer nor am I am an American, so I admit that my knowledge on this topic is rather limited and I'll accept your points in regards to the laws.

The point I was trying to make (very badly) is that "A Good Man" blatantly plagiarized "Spirals" with no repercussions.
That's my problem and I do not understand why it was allowed.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Oyster

The point I was trying to make (very badly) is that "A Good Man" blatantly plagiarized "Spirals" with no repercussions.


1. Plagiarism is an academic concept. While it has spread beyond academia as an ethical concept, it has no basis in law in either the US or to my knowledge in Canada.

Plagiarism as a concept, to the extent it exists at all in the world of fiction is a weak concept. Authors borrowing story concepts from other authors is quite common and has been for a very long time.

There are legal penalties only for things that rise to the level of being copyright violations.

Lazeez has a legal obligation to try and filter out copyright violations and take them down when they are brought to his attention.

He has no legally enforceable obligation to do anything about things that amount to plagiarism but not copyright violations.

2. While anyone can report suspected copyright infringement or plagiarism to Lazeez, once Lazeez has investigated and decides that no action is needed, only the author of the infringed work has any legal or ethical standing to pursue the matter any further.

LonelyDad

You know, I am finding this discussion very interesting in spots, but I think it should be held in the story discussion forum and not here, since it is doing nothing about helping me to find the story I am looking for.

BTW, I seem to remember a famous author saying that there are only something like plot lines, and that every other story is some combination of some or all of those basic plots.

Second thought: Plagiarism can only be a tort if the one being plagiarized can prove some material loss due to the plagiarism. Example - A doctoral candidate takes a PhD's thesis, modifies in slightly, and claims it has his own. The PhD would have to prove that the candidate's actions have caused material harm in terms of income or position to be able to recover damages in any way. On the other hand, if the plagiarism is proved, it will usually destroy the reputation of the candidate and any hopes they have in progressing in their field.

Crumbly Writer

@LonelyDad

BTW, I seem to remember a famous author saying that there are only something like plot lines, and that every other story is some combination of some or all of those basic plots.

As Lazeez said, copyright, as it applies to literature, only applies to the physical words on the page, rather than to plotlines or story development. As long as the actual order of words is different, you can't sue for copyright violation.

For those unsure about a work, there are several plagiarism sites, which will search for stories with similar content and examine them for identical structure (most often used by teachers to catch student's purchasing prior student's work as their own). With those results, you can go to most story sites and get the work removed.

Dominions Son

@LonelyDad

Plagiarism can only be a tort if the one being plagiarized can prove some material loss due to the plagiarism.


Actually, plagiarism isn't recognized as a tort in the US even then. Your example doctoral candidate would have recourse through academic discipline, but that's it.

Replies:   LonelyDad
LonelyDad

@Dominions Son

That's what I was trying to say. The PhD suffered no material loss by being plagiarized, so the only recourse is academic discipline and/or public disclosure of the misdeed. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single scenario where being plagiarized would result in a material loss.

Perv Otaku

@Oyster

That he hunted the fan down is not proof that he was legally obligated to do so.

Taking ideas from fans without credit is a good way to alienate a fan base.


No, actually he was. The industry routinely works this way. If you want to become a writer for Star Trek, you don't send the studio your Star Trek story to show your writing skills. They will refuse to read it, because if they read it and it's similar to something they already had in the works, they can't prove that they didn't steal it from you. So you have to send your Battlestar Galactica story to the Star Trek people, and you can send your Star Trek story to the Battlestar Galactica people.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Taking ideas from fans without credit is a good way to alienate a fan base.


It all comes down to who had the idea first, and who got it from whom.

In one case I heard of the author had foreshadowed a direction for a later side-story plot. He had the story part written, but put it aside to continue with some stories in the main line. One fan got fed up with waiting for the side-story hinted at, so he wrote his own along the lines set out in the earlier main-line story foreshadowing the side-line story, and released his story as a fanfic. He got the plot development very much like what the author was writing but hadn't yet finished.

The fanfic was posted on a forum the author was active on. Up to then he had no problems with fanfic as long as the fans didn't involve any of the main-line plots or characters. In this case the main character in the side-story was one of the main-line characters, thus it was in violation of the 'club rules' the author had been letting the fans use. But the major issue for the author was the work he'd put into the side-story was now invalidated because of the muddy legal aspects of it.

The author spat the dummy, posted a scathing post on the forum, formally withdrew from all involvement with the forum on legal advice from his publisher, and his last post was a formal declaration of war on all fanfic with his characters and universe because he was now obliged to be proactive in protecting his rights in relation to them.

That led to all the other fans on the forum jumping all over the author of the fanfic, and effectively killed two fan forums on the original author's series due to the flame war the situation started.

In this case the original idea had been set out by the original author, just not publicly followed up, yet. And there you have the crux of a lot of the fanfic angst - how do you know what the original author has or hasn't started writing, and how do you avoid stomping on his work? Also, how does the author protect his rights if he allows fanfic or doesn't chase them? The variations in laws between countries also add fuel to the fire.

typo edit

grandad_rufus
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

There was the case of (either Andre Norton or Marion Zimmer Bradley) who was writing a new book over 3/4 finished, and saw a piece of fanfiction using the same story idea. The "fan" demanded #1 co author credit & #2 royalties. The book ended up being trashed and that author banned all fan fiction from that point on.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

lso, how does the author protect his rights if he allows fanfic or doesn't chase them?


The authors rights (in terms of copyright) are not in any way impacted by allowing fan fiction.

Unlike trademarks, you can not lose a copyright due to selective enforcement.

Also, independent creation is a valid defense against claims of copyright infringement. And once raised as a defense, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was aware of, and had access to the infringed work.

My own opinion on fan fiction is that the fans doing it should avoid using iconic characters from the original work as main characters. Create your own characters in the world created by the original author. This is safest for both of you.

Harrack

@LonelyDad

BTW, I seem to remember a famous author saying that there are only something like plot lines, and that every other story is some combination of some or all of those basic plots.


I remeber reading that there was 8 or 12 basic story lines. I think the book was the 1st ed storytellers guide for vampire by white wolf. And if i am remebering corrwctly they attribute the quote to the bard

docholladay

@Dominions Son

My own opinion on fan fiction is that the fans doing it should avoid using iconic characters from the original work as main characters. Create your own characters in the world created by the original author. This is safest for both of you.


As a reader I agree with this part. But will allow for the usage of the original authors characters in a support role where those characters are not changed in any manner. Its okay say to have your characters talk with them or obtain advice from them, but don't directly use or change any part of them in the story. They are reference characters (background) only.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@docholladay

As a reader I agree with this part. But will allow for the usage of the original authors characters in a support role where those characters are not changed in any manner.


What part of "as main characters" from my comment did you not understand? :)

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Dominions Son

All original plot characters are protected in some form or another unless the change is agreed to by the original author. That does not stop them from being background (supporting) characters in another story.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@docholladay

All original plot characters are protected in some form or another unless the change is agreed to by the original author. That does not stop them from being background (supporting) characters in another story.


Again, my original comment was that original plot characters should not be used as main characters in fan fiction. You have neither contradicted me nor added anything particularly useful

FSwan
Updated:

And then there is Eric Flint's 1632 Universe published by Baen. Over a million words in print, much of it not written by Mr. Flint himself. Please see, the home site

Replies:   limab
limab

@FSwan

THAT is slightly, but DISTINCTLY different. I have not been active on the Baen's Bar forums in years (or the Assanti Shards site at all) but the bar has three sections for this:
1) 1632 Slush - write the story and post it here
2) 1632 Slush Comments - this has been described as one of the most intense critiquing sessions out there. Content, grammar, flow of story, technology, history and much more, all get combed through, picked at and and polished.
3) 1632 Tech - Who got sent back, what got sent back i. e. encyclopedias heirloom seeds steam experts doctors herbalist(pot growers) what has been developed in cannon at that time. what was already there, people tech and history. There is a delightful lady who is a retired history professor who studied this era. She really helps to keep things "real".

Now this is the important distinction. Once the story is accepted for publication it is cannon. Not even Flint can write something contrary to it. Because this is not done in hiding, if there is a story conflict before acceptance there can be discussion and accommodation. There can be no -It's my idea and you stole it, give me money and recognition or I'll sue!

Replies:   FSwan
FSwan

I'm writing as someone who is active in the 1632 section of the Bar. Yes, once something is published it's pretty much set in stone. However, when in the course of time a point turns into a howler, it can be changed or ignored. A case in point, Eric Flint revised the original prefaceintroduction to 1632.

One reason the 1632 project doesn't see copyright problems is Mr. Flint is more than willing to pay writers for the Grantville Gazette pro-rates. He is also willing to co-author writers of novels.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Also, independent creation is a valid defense against claims of copyright infringement. And once raised as a defense, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was aware of, and had access to the infringed work.

This isn't quite true. What you're discussing here are story ideas, not actual story text. You can't copyright ideas, only the written word. Anyone is free to steal any story idea they want (note the tremendous number of people who've blatantly ripped off Shakespeare, or the Ancient Greek playwrights). However, if you copy someone else's text (much as a semi-public figure copied someone else's speech recently), they're guilty of copyright infringement, but little else (mostly just terrible execution of the ideas).

In your example, the kid who wrote the fanfic is free to promote it however he wants, except he can't use the same character names (as that's guarded by trademark), but he also has no legal claims to anyone else's profits.

FSwan

@limab

A problem some writes are experiencing on SoL is critics are being as rough on them as the Bar Flies are in 1632 Slush Comments. However, there are major differences. SoL writers are for the most part not writing for pay or if they are they are self publishing (with one or two exceptions). 1632 Slush writers are looking to sell their work at industry standard rates to an established publisher (Baen). the 32 Slush Comments acts as a filter to help writers clean up their work before the Ed Board buys their work.

2) 1632 Slush Comments - this has been described as one of the most intense critiquing sessions out there. Content, grammar, flow of story, technology, history and much more, all get combed through, picked at and and polished.

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