The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle -- Part IX through Part XI
The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle
Contents: Part IX: Contact prior to account deletion; Part X: The foundation of Fiction Alley; Part XI: R.J. Anderson, Pamela Dean, and permission.
Part IX: Contact prior to account deletion
One of Cassandra Claire's defenders' main complaints at the time was that she was not contacted and warned that her account was being investigated or deleted.
I have several points to make in regard to this claim:
- I left a signed review on Draco Sinister approximately one week before Cassandra Claire's account was deleted. I considered it a warning, though others, perhaps, do not. I know she received this, however, because I received a reply from her.
- Michela Ecks has repeatedly claimed that she emailed Cassandra Claire four days prior to the account deletion to warn her to alter her disclaimers. That can be seen in several of the posts Michela made at the time of this incident, as well as in her chat with Flourish. Cassandra Claire claims not to have received this.
- Meimi emailed Cassandra Claire when the review was complete, a few hours before the deletion of Cassandra Claire's account. Michela mentions this in her chat with Flourish. Cassandra Claire also claims not to have received this.
- Among the screened or deleted posts on either cassie_and_rhysenn or ParadigmOfUncertainty, I believe there was an announcement that Cassandra Claire was on vacation or moving cross-country the week prior to her account deletion. (This wasn't something I noticed until partway through the week after I had contacted Cairnsy.) If Cassandra Claire was not reading email, she would not have seen any notifications.
Cassandra Claire was directly warned by Michela Ecks. She claims not to have received the warning. Cassandra Claire was notified by Meimi that her account was being deleted. She claims not to have received the notification.
However, this does make it clear that attempts were made to contact Cassandra Claire. (ETA:
I want to be clear: I am not
claiming Cassandra Claire received the emails. I am simply asserting that Meimi and Michela Ecks both attempted to contact Cassandra Claire.)
Part X: The foundation of Fiction Alley
The creation of Fiction Alley remains a point of contention between the two "sides" in the continuing conflict.
The official story, cited by ignatius
and Charlotte Lennox
, is that the Fiction Alley archive was already underway at the time Cassandra Claire was blacklisted from FanFiction.Net, but that the deletion of her account accelerated the release
of the archive.
This is not entirely accurate, and partially explains why Fiction Alley remains a source of disagreement between the "two sides" of the debate.
Heidi acknowledges Flourish as a founder of Fiction Alley here.
On June 25, 2001, Flourish posted the following to HP_FanFiction:
Everyone who talked about creating a large
There is a chat today at 8:00 PM EST. It is at this
It's to discuss one LARGE fanfiction archive that will
be a collaborative effort between the
webmasters/mistresses of the fandom. Therefore, if you
want to be a part of something like that, please come.
However, to warn you, there's already been a lot of
talk about it on the Draco Dexter Yahoo!Group, so you
may end up just actually doing the archiving.
Whatever. If you wanna talk, come.
Unfortunately, the Draco Dexter Yahoo!Group
no longer exists; it was associated with the "Teenage Witches", which included Cassandra Claire, Alicia/Sue, and Starling.
Flourish also mentions the archive in her AIM chat with Michela Ecks:
slytherinstar: also, as an alternate to fanfiction.net, there's a large Harry Potter-only archive that will be created. (Maybe this isn't very ff.n staff-y, but I'm glad to see a Harry Potter archive that will be reliable going up. Most of the archives are extremely unreliable.)
slytherinstar: Actually, I'm doing most of the HTML for the archive, so I hope it ends up being reliable. *shrugs* I hope nobody thinks of it as a conflict of interest... (chat reproduced here; note that this chat is not dated, but Flourish summarizes the chat in a post on the Ranting_page list and dates it as earlier that day (June 26, 2001) (RP 17), the same day Flourish resigned from FanFiction.Net)
The "LARGE fanfiction archive" referred to is what would become "Fiction Alley," for which Flourish indeed did most of the HTML.
The Fiction Alley Writers list
was created on July 3, 2001; the first post on this list occurred on July 6, 2001.
The second post was made by Heidi, and said:
Welcome to all of you - you writers of novel-length fics (or fic
arcs, which can count too)
We've set this list up as an informational place, where you can learn
more about FictionAlley.org - which we hope will be the central Harry
Potter fanfiction site. We're still in the process of setting up the
backend and the site's policies, so we probably won't have answers to
all your questions yet...but things are moving along among the
"Schnooglemods? What's that?"
Well, here's the situation. FictionAlley is going to be the OverSight
for the archive - and there are going to be 4 houses - one for novel-
length fics (Schnoogle.com), and (most probably) one for romance, one
for humor and one for darkfics (mystery, romance, etc.) - the other 3
houses will not be "novel-length fics", though.
We've looked over sites from other fandoms, like the Star Wars site
at www.fanfix.com, for organizational inspiration, we're perfecting
our HTML and database skills and we're putting together a menu of
excellent resources and treats for the readers and writers.
Schnoogle is going to be the first of the FictionAlley sites to go
up - we have an ideal soft launch date in the next week or so (:
crosses fingers) and the other houses should launch shortly
thereafter. If everything goes as we hope, at least a skeletal
version of FictionAlley should be ready to go up on Harry's 21st
At the moment, we're trying to keep the number of authors low, so we
can get everything up & working with a limited number of fics - and
we are going to have technical standards (minimum length of chapters,
minimum length of completed fics, requested spell-checking and
Lexicon-checking (in other words, spell the words the way they are in
the book wherever possible)) since at least in the immediate future,
all the fic-uploading we do will be by hand.
We're still working on the exact policies, and will post them here
FictionAlley should be at least 83% fun - yes, everyone will likely
get the occasional UnFun flame, but on any given day, visiting
FictionAlley should not be something that stresses you out :)
Happy to see you here!
Note that Heidi's post indicates Fiction Alley would consist of four "houses," but the purpose of each of the four houses was not yet determined.
The initial posts on this list include introductions and discussions on setting up review boards. None of the initial posts indicate pre-existing plans.
Initial advertisements for Fiction Alley appeared on mailing lists on July 22, 2001. The following is taken from the hpslash mailing list (Lori's last name removed):
Announcing the launch of F i c t i o n A l l e y . o r g
If you tap on the third brick to the left of the web, or type in
http://www.fictionalley.org, <http://www.fictionalley.org,/> you will be
portkeyed right to the newest
fanfiction and fanart site in the HP Fandom -- and we hope it's the most
comprehensive site too. The Schnoogle.com section of FictionAlley contains
some of the best novel-length fanfiction on offer, from many of your
F i c t i o n A l l e y . o r g
FictionAlley features fanfics by talented authors - and among the grand
opening offerings are a new chapter of Draco Sinister from Cassandra Claire
and a brand new PoUniverse cookie from Lori XXXXXX.
S c h n o o g l e . c o m
Dictionaria Potterica Fandomia:
"Schnoogle" (sh-NOO-gl): Anything from a hug to an all-on-snogfest.
Click on Schnoogle when you get to FictionAlley and you'll see a list of all
the authors we feature. And more authors are joining every day -- if you
want to see your fics on Schnoogle.com, visit the Submission Guidelines at
the site or join http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/FictionAlleyWriters
read the guidelines in the Files section --
S c h n o o g l e . c o m
FictionAlley has review boards,
ChapterOwls, message boards and Professor McG's Fanfic Primer...take a
stroll and pick up some fanfics - only seven sickles an ounce.
S c h n o o g l e . c o m & F i c t i o n A l l e y . o r g
-- i t ' s j u s t g o o d .
=| Schnoogle.com, part of the FictionAlley.org community |=
* high-quality novel-length fanfiction from some of your favorite authors
* talk to the authors using Schnoogle.com messageboards
_____________________________________ (HPS 7344; a similar advertisement appeared the next day on the HP_FanFiction list.)
Schnoogle.com was the first of the Fiction Alley sites to open; the others rolled out over the next few weeks.
While some files on Fiction Alley are dated prior to July 22, 2001 (notably, Cassandra Claire's Draco Dormiens
and Draco Sinister
are dated July 14, 2001 despite subsequent updates), July 22 was the official opening date.
The initial advertisements prominently mentioned Cassandra Claire. In combination with Flourish's posts, this gave me the very strong impression (which I still hold) that Fiction Alley owed its existence to her account deletion.
However, there is some truth to the idea that Fiction Alley was already in the works at the time Cassandra Claire's account was deleted. Nostrademons clarifies here
There were existing plans. Schnoogle was supposed to be a site for shipper buttons (that's why it's .com instead of .org, and why it was registered a few weeks earlier). The other 3 houses were initially going to be another fanfiction site started by I think Flourish or Rhysenn. FAP was initially the HP Paradise message board - remember how the original EZBoard was at bhpparadise?
Now, perhaps it's technically accurate that FA wasn't under construction until after Cassiegate, because it wasn't FA then. But there were plans for independent fansites that eventually became FA; they just changed in scope and focus after that kerfuffle.
This is supported by the definition of "Schnoogle" in the official Fiction Alley glossary
(Heidi's last name removed):
schnoogle—Nobody knows the exact definition, but it seems to be something between a glomp and a hug—it is generally deemed to be a chaste action and commonly done when one enters a chatroom. Cassandra Claire and Heidi XXXXX chose the term back in February, 2001, as the domain name for a website devoted to fanfic SHIP buttons, and when plans for FictionAlley started germinating, they donated the domain name to the site.
Schnoogle was registered several months before the other sites associated with FictionAlley (March 2, 2001
); the others were registered in July 2001. (Riddikulus.org has a 2002 registration date; I assume this indicates the domain ownership was transferred.)
The common story that the release of the archive was "accelerated" due to the deletion of Cassandra Claire's fanfiction isn't quite correct. It appears that, prior to her account deletion, individual fans had plans to develop their own fansites to host fanfiction. However, after her account was deleted, they decided to work together and create an archive with a much wider scope. Thus, the existence of Fiction Alley as a large collaborative archive resulted from the deletion of Cassandra Claire's account from FanFiction.Net. To my mind, this is not the same thing as the archive "being in the works" and its release being accelerated.
While I recognize that Fiction Alley now
involves many more people who had nothing to do with the original plagiarism scandal, I associate the Fiction Alley archive too strongly with plagiarism to want anything to do with it. Except for the purposes of writing these summaries (or via direct links to the forums from Fandom_Wank), I do not visit Fiction Alley, and I do not see any reason I would change this policy in the future.FanFiction.Net Downtime
Note that the launch of Fiction Alley was almost certainly helped
by the extended downtime of FanFiction.Net
which began on July 28, 2001
. (All links are to the HP_FanFiction Yahoo! group.)
In fact, Heidi
and John (Crazy Ivan)
capitalized on FanFiction.Net downtime to advertise for Fiction Alley.
As of September 5, 2001, FanFiction.Net was still unstable and crashing repeatedly.
On September 6, 2001, Xing posted a statement on the fanfictionnetwriters Yahoo! group
(this group is now called fanfiction-writers
, and is no longer formally associated with FanFiction.Net).
As you all know, FanFiction.Net has been very unreliable since late July.
There are many factors attributing to this down-turn of events but one stands
out above all others:
Resources: We do not have the human resource nor the monetary resource to keep
up with the demand for the services offered by the site. FanFiction.Net by
itself requires thousands of dollars to up keep every month. The site is coming
up to its 3rd anniversary and it would be a honor and tribute to everyone on
staff to have the site live beyond the next decade.
However, in response to the lack of resources we must scale back and ask
everyone to contribute to the cause if possible.
Here are the round of changes that will be effective tomorrow, when the site
will be reactivated.
1) Discussion Forums will be removed. We will enhance the Community Connector to
compensate for this as we will aggresively promote 3rd party forums/discussion
2) The Community Connector and the Authors Directory will be disabled during the
mean time while we monitor the health of the servers. They will make their
return as soon as the site has stablized.
3) Support Services will lo se private forums. However, Support Serverices will
expand to include the following features that were offered to everyone before:
a) Author/Story-Chapter alerts
b) Review alerts
c) Full-Text and Story Summary Searches
d) General stats
In short, FanFiction.Net will will scale back to its fundamentals and features
that are not core to writing, reading, and reviewing will be moved into Support
Although FanFiction.Net is a free-ride for most almost everyone, and we would
like to keep it that way, we need to encourage everyone that is capable to
contribute since that is the only way the site can survive. Becoming a Support
Service Member is the way for those that believe in the site to support the site
and a way for the site to give something in return.
FanFiction.Net (FW 14856)
At this point, the boards were removed from FanFiction.Net. Despite other claims
, they were not
deleted during or due to the Cassandra Claire plagiarism incident.Fiction Alley Terms of Service
Michela Ecks has indicated
several times that she believes portions of the Fiction Alley Terms of Service are plagiarized from those she wrote for FanFiction.Net. An example:
Where was I? I'm a writer. I sit down at the keyboard and crank out reams and reams of material, mostly non-fiction. What I write is my own material; what I don't write is quoted and properly cited because to do so would violate my own personal standards of ethics. Ethics in writing are important to me. They very much are :) Hence, my web site http://www.fandomination.net/ has a "Statement of Ethics" built into it that I uphold.
(I'm not saying that FictionAlley.Org doesn't but I mean, after all, I did write 75% of their Terms of Service so they must have similar ethics to me no? Oh my, if I was petty and rude, I might say with some malice that they are nothing but plagiarist through and through ;-) but see, I'm not that petty. Stealing almost word for word from FanFiction.Net's Terms of Service and ha ha ha! having plagiarized material on their Terms of Service... well, that isn't an ethical issue for me to play with. It just amuses my own personal set of ethics. Really, it does. :) Amusement. And anyway, I'm not saying they don't have ethics. They do. Really they do. They just don't mesh with my own which is good because we're different.)
I've spent some time investigating this claim, and I think it is impossible to prove at this point. Michela indicates that she believes the FanFiction.Net Terms of Service have been altered from her original version. The originals are not available in the Wayback machine (FanFiction.Net pages do not allow Google searching or Wayback archiving). Based on my review, the Fiction Alley and FanFiction.Net Terms of Service use standard boilerplate language for the "intellectual property" section and for the author/poster conduct section. Searching online, I see similar language associated with several other sites as well.
It is not unlikely
, however, that Fiction Alley lifted content from FanFiction.Net's Terms of Service. Flourish's position on the FanFiction.Net was as maintainer of the Terms of Service before she resigned, and, as previously discussed, Flourish was a founder of Fiction Alley who also did a large amount of the HTML coding. However, as previously stated, both Terms of Service use standard boilerplate. ETA:
A response by Heidi on this issue has recently been unscreened. I am therefore linking
Based on this post, I'm inclined to side with Fiction Alley-- they had parallel, but not copied, Terms of Service.
The original Fiction Alley Terms of Service are available on the Wayback Machine
; the current FanFiction.Net Terms of Service are posted on FanFiction.Net.
Part XI: R.J. Anderson, Pamela Dean, and permission.
In September 2001, Pamela Dean would be seen on Usenet making an oblique reference to the situation:
Sorry -- having been recently hit over the head with just how little
just so many people understand about copyright law, I didn't want to
let even a joke just lie there for somebody to take seriously; but I
shouldn't have forgotten to laugh.
Pamela Dean's post was made at roughly the same time Heidi claims
she was in negotiations with Pamela Dean's agent to obtain permission for Cassandra Claire to use the incorporated text:
She got permission through conversations with Pamela's agent, btw, and
in August and September of 2001 I worked with said agent to finalize
the language which Cassie used in her fic thereafter. I remember it
well because we were supposed to get in touch in the middle of the
following week; we postponed it for months, though, because the
following week began with 9/11.
I have sent two inquiries to Pamela Dean on whether Cassandra Claire did, in fact, receive permission for the text from The Secret Country
and The Hidden Land
. The first inquiry was sent in May of 2005. Pamela Dean's response indicated that she remembered the incident, but had passed all handling of it onto her agent. She said she was forwarding my inquiry onto her agent, but I never received a reply.
I sent a second inquiry approximately two weeks ago. I also requested permission to quote from the email Pamela Dean had sent me in 2001. We exchanged a few emails before she contacted her agent again. When I receive a firm answer, I will incorporate it into this section.
However, presuming that permission was granted (and I have no reason to believe it was not), Heidi's comment above appears to be inaccurate with respect to timeline. With permission, I offer the emails below.
Cassandra Claire mentions having received an email from a friend of Pamela Dean's in post 9368 on PoU:
As for The Secret
Country, I also stated in my disclaimer that Draco's trip to the
afterlife was an homage to Pamela Dean, and a friend of hers (Pamela
Dean's) wrote me after I posted it nd said she loved the homage,
thought it was great.
With permission from author R.J. Anderson, here is the email in question:
From: [R.J. Anderson]
Date: 3/16/01 6:53:54 PM
Subject: Draco Sinister
Well, I'm reading it, and I'm still interested to know what will happen, but
it doesn't grab me or entertain me quite the way that DD did.
I think firstly because it reads much more like a Buffyverse story than a
JKR story, and secondly because in this one all the borrowing from other
things seems much more obvious. There are too many things thrown in there
solely because the fans wanted them, IMO, and too many authorial intrusions
and asides. I know you're just having fun (and giving it to others), but
from a technical standpoint, I feel that this story is less of a legitimate
story in its own right than DD because of those things.
On the plus side, Remus and Sirius are wonderful, and although Snape is a
bit unrelentingly sour for my tastes (and I really can't see him telling
Sirius to eff off -- I mean, he would no doubt say words that had much the
same force and effect, but not those particular ones) I enjoyed his
appearance in the story as well. Also, you get major big points for putting
in a SECRET COUNTRY homage -- the author is Pamela Dean, by the way, an old
net.friend of mine and someone who's been a great help and encouragement to
me with my own writing.
Also, I have forgiven you for not getting Draco and Hermione together
because I now want Draco and Ginny to get together. See how cruelly you
manipulate my emotions? Bad you.
R.J. Anderson went on to exchange emails with Cassandra Claire and Heidi in June and September 2001. She did not negotiate an agreement between Cassandra Claire and Pamela Dean; she did
encourage Cassandra Claire to rewrite the text or contact Pamela Dean for permission. Quoted with her permission, here are some of these emails. Emphasis is mine.
From: [R.J. Anderson]
Date: 6/24/01 5:09:51 PM
Subject: From a concerned reader...
Hi. You remember me, I'm sure: The one who was so happy to see you mention
the Secret Country books in DS, because she's a friend of Pamela Dean and
thinks her books deserve more readers.
What I didn't realize at the time was that you used not merely Pamela's
ideas (the nightmare grass, the afterlife scene) as you acknowledged having
done, but that you actually used Pamela's own language to do it. If it had
just been an odd phrase here and there, I could have passed it off as a
subconscious thing; but when nearly every phrase is the same, and only the
names have been changed...
In order to have the passages match so closely, you would have had to have
the book open in front of you, or to have read it so many times that you had
virtually memorized it. In either case, whether you copied direct or
whether you loved the book so much that you had read it multiple times, you
would have known the title of the book was THE HIDDEN LAND. You would have
known the author was Pamela Dean. Why, then, write a disclaimer that states
you couldn't remember the author's name, and which gets the title of the
book wrong? I am honestly baffled by this.
I see that you have now corrected the disclaimer to mention Pamela's name.
This still doesn't solve the problem of using her writing in such a way that
nobody could tell it wasn't your own, however. Without proper crediting and
footnoting of Pamela's words, no reader would realize that you owed more to
her for the afterlife scene than just the "inspiration". I've read the
Secret Country books three times and even I didn't notice it until I saw the
passages side by side. I had always believed, until then, that the words in
that passage were yours, not Pamela's -- and there was nothing in your
disclaimer that would have told me otherwise.
I truly believe that you meant no harm or disrespect to Pamela, and I also
believe that you honestly thought your disclaimer was sufficient. But I
also believe that what you did *is* plagiarism by any objective definition,
and that it would greatly upset Pamela if she knew.
I took a straw poll of the people on the FidoNet WRITING echo on this
subject (without mentioning your name, Pamela's name, the name of your fics,
or identifying the fandom in which you write). These are professional
authors and editors. Many of them also read and enjoy fanfic (or have even
written it) and are by no means opposed to fanfic on principle. But every
single one of them agreed that even with a disclaimer, what you had done in
using Pamela's words in your story was totally unacceptable and indeed
Here are some of the comments I received:
"It doesn't have to be mine to find it annoying or worse. I would be livid
if it were my writing being plagiarized that way. There's a Pros story that
plagiarizes scenes from a Modesty Blaise novel, and I was appalled to read
it. I don't know if the editor knew what was going on, but I suspect she
would have rejected it if she did. ... There really is a line, even though
I might draw it further over than other people would, being fairly heavily
immersed in the world of fanfic." -- Beth Friedman, professional editor
"The particular piece you describe was out-and-out plagiarism, unless the
author had permission from the other author to do what she did. It's not
flattering ... when someone steals your words. It's theft. I would indeed
take legal action. If I saw it done to some other author, I would probably
contact them or their agent and suggest that *they* take legal action. ...
Homage and pastiche are when an author uses *her own words* to evoke an
atmosphere or style or structure that is recognizeably similar to that of
another author. *That* takes work, and close observation, and it is indeed
flattering. Ripping off someone's words doesn't take anything but a
scanner. ... . 'Livid' does not begin to describe [my reaction]." --
Patricia C. Wrede, author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles
"I'd be furious and would probably take legal action. There's no telling
how much 'borrowing' someone like this would do in the future, and he/she
should be stopped now. I work too hard on every sentence to let someone
else use them. A quote would be flattering. Whole chunks lifted would be
infuriating." -- Barbara Shafferman, author of "The President's Astrologer"
"...admitting what one's sources are is no more valid an excuse than
admitting that you shot your brother because he kept calling you
'booger-head,' or whatever the term was that he used. One can see that you
had your reasons, but that doesn't change the legal status of what you
id." -- Dennis Havens, author
I am telling you this not to try and upset or discourage you, Cassie, but to
urge you to take steps for your own protection. I have no intention of
e-mailing Pamela and telling her about DS, or in any way tipping her off to
the fact that you borrowed some of her words to include with your own.
However, Pamela's e-mail address is easily available to anyone who looks for
it, and I cannot guarantee that someone else won't see fit to advise Pamela
about this situation. I would really, really, really hate to see that
happen, because it would not only hurt you, it would hurt Pamela too.
Pamela has been a friend of mine for over ten years. She is an author who
works incredibly hard and doesn't get as much recognition or appreciation as
she deserves. I know her writing processes: she labours over every word.
She doesn't deserve to have her work borrowed, even with the best of
intentions, without her permission, and used in such a way that other people
won't realize the words are hers and not yours.
What I am begging you to do, if you're not in the process of doing it
already, is to rewrite the relevant parts of DS in your own words, in such a
way that all parallels to Pamela's writing of that scene are eliminated.
Ideally it would be even better to come up with your own concept of the
afterlife scene that was substantially different from hers, but failing
that, writing it over in an original manner would be a big help. I would
hate to see you shut down or embroiled in a legal situation and I am truly
afraid that this might happen if you continue to use other people's work
(even with credit given) in your own.
Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe Pamela will never find out, maybe she'll
never sue. But if it isn't Pamela, it might be Joss Whedon or one of his
staff writers who comes across DS and recognizes their best lines coming out
of Draco's mouth. You have SO many readers, somebody was bound to crack
open Pamela's books and find the parallels eventually; and as you continue
to write, I can easily see it happening again.
All I'm saying is, please continue writing, but please write your *own*
stuff. You don't need other people's stuff to write a good story, and the
danger you're putting yourself in by borrowing in this manner is just not
worth it. I really believe your fans will still enjoy your stories even if
they can't say, "Hey, I heard Spike say that on Buffy last week," or, "Yeah,
I loved that episode of BLACKADDER!"
I hope this hasn't upset or offended you. I just felt that I had to write
you, for Pamela's sake as well as your own. I have always felt that your
work would be even better if it were *all* original (by which I mean the
actual words, not the general ideas -- of course we're all unoriginal in the
sense that we're borrowing JKR's world and characters to play with -- but as
Patricia mentioned, that is pastiche/homage, not plagiarism). Now that I've
seen what's happened on FF.net and elsewhere, I feel even more strongly that
you need to stop leaning on other people's writing to be clever, funny, and
inventive, and have the confidence to fly on your own. You certainly have
enough support to do it -- there are a lot of people who love you and
believe in you. So please, do think about it.
Thanks for your patience,
From: [R.J. Anderson]
Date: 6/25/01 7:29:08 PM
Subject: Pamela's reaction... don't panic! It's not bad! :)
Here is the full text of Pamela's response to my question on the WRITING
echo. I thought you would probably like to see it.
Rebecca [Anderson] writes:
> Here's a question, especially for the "old pros" among us:
> I have come across, in my meanderings through various fandoms, some
> of fan fiction in which the author has clearly borrowed lines, paragraphs,
> and scenes from other sources.
> In the one particular example that comes to my mind at present, the fanfic
> author clearly stated at the beginning of her fic that she was borrowing
> ideas from another person's work, stated which ideas they were, and gave
> name of the work from which she had borrowed.
> However, what she did not say in so many words was that she actually
> chunks of narration and even dialogue from the parent work, with a few
> additions and changes to make the borrowed parts fit smoothly into her own
> If you came across this piece of fan fiction, and the work being
> from was your own, how would you feel about it? And what would you be
> likely to do about it? Would you be tempted to take legal action? Would
> you be upset by it? Or would you merely think it flattering that someone
> liked your writing so much?
It would to some extent depend on how it was done -- I mean, I've
borrowed whole lines from Shakespeare. There's no legal issue since
that's public domain, but it's one thing to make a deliberate allusion
that one expects the readers to recognize and resonate with, and
another to take somebody else's work and imply that it is something
that you wrote yourself. And there's a little bit of gray area where
somebody might be doing or think she was doing the former but had
strayed into the latter through ineptitude, or might be thought to
have strayed into the latter by inept readers; and a wider really
genuine gray area where resolution is just difficult. If it were a
clear case of stealing my prose with no marker at all indicating an
intent to allude, I'd be extremely upset if it were my work,
and given some email I've gotten recently I wonder if actually it was.
I hate the thought of legal action, but if the author persisted in
distributing the work without asking permission to use the passages in
question and with no specific credit given, I'd at least talk to my
It's a really stupid thing to have done, too, if it was my work or if
it was the work of many other authors I know, because a simple request
for permission to quote would probably have been granted.
It sounds to me as though she's a lot more willing to cut you slack -- even
suspecting that it's *her* work involved -- and admit the possibility of its
being an honest mistake, than any of the other authors were. And the most
vehement of her comments would only apply if you hadn't credited her in any
way at all, which of course isn't the case.
The whole asking for permission thing never occurred to me. I guess I just
took it for granted that she'd refuse, but obviously Pamela is more generous
with her prose than I gave her credit for. Still, she would probably want
there to be some clear delineation of where your prose ends and hers begins.
I know that I would, in her place.
I hope this is of some consolation to you, and isn't too terrifying. You
can count your blessings that you borrowed from Pamela Dean and not Pat
Wrede, is all I can say. :)
Cassandra Claire indicates in Ranting_page 15
that she contacted Pamela Dean on June 25, 2001 in order to request permission for the incorporated text.
There are additional emails, dated June 27, 2001, which R.J. Anderson sent to Heidi. These hint at Cairnsy's post which led to Heidi's accusation of libel, and hint at Michela contacting Heidi's law firm. R.J. Anderson also responds to Heidi's invitation to join Fiction Alley.
On September 10, 2001, R.J. Anderson responded to an email from Heidi:
From: [R.J. Anderson]
Date: 9/10/01 4:53:00 PM
Subject: Re: a sugarquill post thing
Well, I'll tell you what little I know and what I think is most likely to be
true about all this...
I haven't heard anything from Pamela saying or hinting that she plans to
refuse Cassie permission to use the relevant passage. When we last talked
about it (which was a couple of months ago), she indicated rather the
opposite -- that is, that she was willing to allow Cassie to use the
passage, once it had been fully and legally disclaimered to her agent's and
Last I heard, Pamela had left the whole matter entirely in Valerie's hands.
However, Valerie is an incredibly busy lady with a lot of clients, and I'm
not surprised Cassie hasn't heard from her in a while.
Well, unfortunately, Cassie *did* use Pamela's words without Pamela's
knowledge or express permission in such a way that people could (and did)
mistake Pamela's writing for her own. Yes, she posted a disclaimer, I know;
but even the revised disclaimer with the correct title of Pamela's book was
inadequate to cover what Cassie actually did with the material.
There is not a professional or amateur author I know who would call that
anything other than plagiarism, or who would feel happy having their work
used without permission in this way. And I know that this whole matter was
deeply distressing and upsetting to Pamela even though she chose to handle
it graciously and to give Cassie the benefit of the doubt.
So Cairnsy is correct in saying that Pamela deems what Cassie did to be
However, I can't say whether Pamela or her agent ever told the staff of
FF.net that she supported their actions completely, because I wasn't privy
to her communications with FF.net. I wouldn't be surprised if Cairnsy is
telling the truth about that too, though. Pamela isn't a close personal
friend or enemy of anybody involved in this, so naturally she would support
the people who tried to protect her material from copyright violation.
Regardless of whatever FF.net's motives might have been, or whether their
methods were too harsh to Cassie, they did the right thing by Pamela in
removing material that violated her copyright. So I don't know why she
*wouldn't* support their actions in that case.
Alas, I can't tell you one way or the other about that. I saw none of the
correspondence between Valerie and Cassie, so I don't know what Valerie did
or didn't say.
If you would, I'd appreciate it. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.
This is during the same time period as Heidi indicates she herself was actively negotiating with Pamela Dean's agent for permission to use the text and finalizing the language used in the disclaimer. However, the email suggests that while R.J. Anderson thought it was likely permission would be given based on her past discussions with Pamela, Cassandra Claire had not yet received permission. Further, the email indicates that Heidi and Cassandra Claire had not heard from Pamela Dean's agent in some time.Previous post (Part V (cont'd) through Part VIII)Next post (Part XII)