(November 1, 1998)
August 26, 1997:
There are two lawsuits in the news today that fans of genre fiction will be interested in. On August 10, I reported that Nora Roberts was preparing to file suit against Janet Dailey for copyright infringement. Although the Dailey camp insisted a settlement involving a donation to a literacy foundation had been reached, according to Nora, if Ms. Dailey did not as well agree to sign a sworn statement that there are no other books with infringing material out there, there would be no settlement.
Apparently Ms. Dailey would not or could not make that statement, and last Friday Nora Roberts filed a copyright infringement suit in a Manhattan court against Janet Dailey, according to the. In a statement picked up by the AP, Roberts’ lawyer is quoted as saying, “the suit was filed to ensure Dailey stops ‘any additional copying’ of his client’s work.”
While romance readers have heard about Notorious and Aspen Gold as two of the three titles Ms. Dailey has admitted to copying, a third title, Scrooge Wore Spurs, is from a book not yet published. This book, according to Ms. Dailey’s publishers, will not be published. Also according to the AP report, Ms. Dailey’s lawyers stated that, “not all copying constitutes copyright infringement.”
In other legal news, fans of mystery will be interested that author Patricia Cornwall is again in the news. No, she’s not involved in a purported lurid love triangle again. She’s being sued for invasion of privacy and the intentional infliction of emotional distress from the family of a murder victim, according to information found on a lawsuit database (http://www.counsel.com – by subscription only).
According to the lawsuit filed in Virginia, the author, who at one time worked in the office of the Chief Virginia Medical Examiner, used information not released to the public in her book All That Remains, published in 1992, of a horrific 1989 murder. Further, the author allegedly publicly acknowledged that the book was a fictionalized account of the murder.
The murder has never been solved. The report prepared by the State Medical Examiner is supposed to only be accessible police investigators and the victim’s immediate family. Many gruesome details of the murder were not released to the general public, although the victim’s mother had read the ME’s report. Many “like” details appear in Ms. Cornwell’s book. The victim’s mother had never shared with her husband or remaining children those details to shield them from the brutality of the murder.
Macmillan Publishing Company is named as co-defendant.
November 1, 1998:
I received an email from a reader recently asking about the status of Nora Roberts’ lawsuit against Janet Dailey for copyright infringement. According to Nora:
“The case has been settled, with Janet agreeing to pay a specific amount which I have donated to The Literacy Volunteers, The Author’s Guild and RWA.
“At this time other books not included in the suit are being read by outside parties agreed to for comparisons. The results will be sent to a designated vetter who will decide if there is any more infringement.
The books that were named in the suit will have to be cured of infringement and cleared by the vetter.
“It’s been a long road, and I think I’m just about at the end of it.”