"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
I have been noticing a lot of anti-elite people across the net saying that they hope that Jordan Scott wins her case.
What most bothers me about this is the repercussions to the literary establishment, and as a result all writers. It has often been said by people who are experienced in the publishing industry and other knowledgeable types that nothing is new except the interpretation.
This is, by and large, true.
When the usage of material becomes too constrained by legal rulings then creativity and freedom of creation becomes locked into an ever tightening straight jacket.
Entire sub-genres have grown up around (for example) vampires and werewolves. Those who read those sub-genres all have their favorites.
Suppose for a moment that a court ruled that only a single author had the right to create novels about vampires working alongside detectives and count how many other authors would have their books taken off the shelves?
If the courts ruled that whoever wrote and published the earliest version of anything, what would happen?
No more sex on the beach following a wedding (Scott / Meyer)
No more cairn terriers accompanying a heroine on her journey through a magical land (Wizard of Oz)
No more wizard schools (Rowling was not the first to write about one)
No more talking animals (a fantasy trope at this point)
It only takes a single ruling that can then be implemented across the board to totally squash creative freedom. Most inspiration is the result of bits and pieces of what we have read and seen coming together in our subconscious mind and then being interpreted according to our creative individuality.
Remember the fellow a few years back who patented a concept for a novel? I no longer remember his name. However, it turned out that he had been granted a patent for the basic concept of Rip Van Winkle. He probably thought that he was being extremely original, and failed to recognize his own creative roots.
The patent office, the trademark office, and the copyright office are all more and more being run by people who fail to have good general grasp on what they have, what they can do, and how this is going to affect the future of literature.
Scott is simply the most recent example of ignorance of the legal system, especially attorneys with no grounding in literary law taking on suits they can’t win (at least I hope they can’t win).
Literary law is a highly specialized field, and not a good place for ignorant legal types to venture into.
Yet we are seeing more and more of it.
Some say that Scott is doing it for the money (like the woman who sued Rowling and lost). Others are saying that she is doing it for the publicity.
Scott is not asking for money. She wants vindication. (That’s a horse of a different color and I’ll go into vindication later in another post)
The woman who sued Rowling wanted both publicity and money. That seems to be the most common form of this growing phenomena.
Polymancer, in retrospect, thought that they had a hot property in a word and became very possessive of something they could not own.
I’m certain that I’m leaving out other examples and types, but the reasons for pursuing legal action in literary cases are many and diverse and mostly arising out of ignorance or greed.
There have been enough cases of genuine plagiarism out there that I can understand suspicions arising. Some of those cases have led to a recognition of ‘unconscious’ plagiarism.
However, I think the world could well benefit from people stopping to consider where their own literary roots lie before going to an attorney. If they took that first step, they might discover that they did not own the concepts and essentials of creation that they so adamantly believe that they do.
And an internet search is not enough. There are still too many things that cannot be found on the net that date to the eras before the web existed.