A Question of Morals: The U.S. Approach to Plagiarism, ‘Moral Rights’, and Copyright Infringement
“It was a warm and pleasant day on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The waves lapped at the shore and far off a sea-bird raised its plaintive cries to the sky. She looked up from her book, thinking, ‘Wait, where have I read that that before? … ‘ “ Rather than an irksome daydream on the beach, an author’s nightmare is of having her works — or parts of them—lifted from her control and passed off as those of someone else. That is exactly the allegation that bestselling novelist Nora Roberts brings in her suit, filed in late April in a Brazilian Court, against Cristiane Serruya, a lawyer-turned-author. Nora Roberts is one of the most popular living American authors. She primarily writes romance novels, as well as police procedural (crime) fiction. Her works are solid sellers, and she has received a huge number of industry awards, as well as having more than a dozen of her works adapted into film and television productions. Hers is the type of market success that every genre author dreams of. Sadly, with widespread popularity comes risk of infringement—in this case, not of copyright infringement, but a very particular violation of authorial rights.