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Cassie Edwards’ Books Bear Similar (okay Exact) Text to Previously Published...

The Smart Bitches have uncovered a strange and sad set of circumstances involving the writing of romance novelist Cassie Edwards. Apparently passages from
Shadow Bear
, her latest Signet release, are exactly the same as text in Land of the Spotted Eagle by Luther Standing Bear and an article about black-footed ferrets from Defenders of Wildlife.

Yes, ferrets. I mean of all the things someone has to go and plagiarize, it is about ferrets?

Text example from the Smart Bitch website:

Shadow Bear by Cassie Edwards (2007, ISBN 978-0-451-22174-2, Signet) Other Materials
"In my vision, I also saw the fields of sunflowers that are beloved by our Lakota people all scorched, the flowers no longer able to reach their faces toward the sun. I saw buffalo trapped amid flames."

She paused, swallowed hard, then said, "The sunflower and buffalo are two beloved symbols of our Lakota people. The sun is essential to all health and life. In spring, summer, and winter, rays are welcome. In the spring, its warmth brings forth new grass; in summer its heat cures the skins, dries the meat, and preserves food for storage. The buffalo are all and everything to the existence of the Lakota."
p. 6-7

So the sunflower and the buffalo were two beloved symbols of the Lakota. So first, last, and throughout existence, the Lakota knew that the sun was essential to health and to all life. In spring, summer, and winter its rays were welcome. In the spring its warmth brought forth new grass; in the summer its heat cured the skins, dried the meat, and preserved food for storage, and in the winter the Lakotas bathed their bodies in the sunshine, stripping themselves just as they did to bathe in the streams.

Standing Bear, Luther. Land of the Spotted Eagle. 2006
p.49

"In their own way, they are a peaceful enough animal," Shadow Bear said- "They are so named because of their dark legs."

"They are so small, surely weighing only about two pounds and measuring two feet from tip to tail," Shiona said. "While alone in my father’s study one day, after seeing a family of ferrets from afar in the nearby woods, I took one of my father’s books from his library and read up on them. They were an interesting study. I discovered they are related to minks and otters. It is said that their closest relations are European ferrets and Siberian polecats. Researchers theorize that polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska, to establish the New World population." p. 220

"Black-footed ferrets, so-named because of their dark legs, weigh about two pounds and measure two feet from tip to tail. Related to mink and otters, they are North America’s only native ferret (and a different species than the ferrets kept as pets). Their closest relatives are European ferrets and Siberian polecats. Researchers theorize polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska to establish the New World population."

Tolme, Paul. "Toughing it Out in the Badlands," Defenders Magazine, Summer 2005.

All told, Shadow Bear contains over sixteen similarities to texts found on the internet that were published prior to the publication of Shadow Bear. Candy and her reader friend, Katie, found all of these references through the magic of Google. Guess that is one reason that authors wouldn’t want Google Booksearch to be a success.

I’ve read in some places that people think accusations of plagiarism should be kept just between the authors of the two publications. Tomorrow, I’ll offer my opinion of why I think it is a community issue.

Updated links to the SB reports:

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Jennifer McKenzie
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 08:50:40

    Wow. Does anyone know if Cassie Edwards gives credit to the work she obviously used?
    Of course, I don’t know the legal ramifications about using information from the internet, but I thought a writer had to give credit to sources used when directly quoting and such.
    *sigh* I’m sorry to see this. Again.

  2. SB Sarah
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 08:58:56

    I found examples in a Edwards book in my collection, and I searched the title and copyright pages for any attribution for the passages I found in other texts on Google. There were none in my copy.

  3. Meriam
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 10:26:09

    I second the ‘wow.’

    What are the implicationsn for the author is this is taken further?

  4. azteclady
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 10:58:23

    I certainly hope these kind of shenanigans are discussed publicly. Loudly even. Much too often people are wronged and abused (like say, writers whose work is used by someone else for profit), and if and when said abuse is discovered, the entire affair is hushed up. Hopefully publicity would help both to deter other people from wrongdoing, and to motivate writers who know they’ve wronged come public and get some redress.

  5. SandyW
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 10:59:59

    “What are the implications for the author if this is taken further?”

    If I remember correctly: pathetic excuses, an out-of-court settlement, and then business as usual.

    I still see Janet Dailey books at the bookstore.

  6. Jane
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 11:04:57

    One of the problems (and benefits for the copier) is that work that is not registered with the US Copyright Office cannot recover damages under the copyright act. I.e., the mere writing of something and sharing it publicly can create a copyright but enforceability and damages is a whole other story. Therefore, the ramifications might just include pathetic excuses depending on whether the original works are registered.

    There might be an act for conversion which is the civil law term for theft. It’s a much harder standard to prove than copyright infringement because copyright infringement is an intentless act – meaning you don’t have to prove any one intended to do anything wrong – just that you did it.

    Conversion, however, has a whole set of different elements. I’ll draw out the distinctions as I understand them tomorrow.

  7. Jayne
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 11:38:48

    Okay, my question is who would have wanted to buy this book only to get a lecture on the origins of black-footed ferrets?

  8. Rebecca Goings
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 11:41:01

    I’ve heard it said if you can prove you wrote the material first, you might have a case, even if your work isn’t registered for a copyright. Perhaps I’m wrong…

    But has anyone alerted the publisher in question? Seems like something a publisher might like to know.

    ~~Becka

  9. Jane
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 11:46:28

    I believe that you can file a suit but you can’t get damages which makes the suit almost meaningless. I mean, you could possibly get an injunction against future sales.

  10. Jane
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 11:47:42

    Okay, my question is who would have wanted to buy this book only to get a lecture on the origins of black-footed ferrets?

    Particularly when you can read it online for free, right?

  11. Robin
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 12:30:47

    Of course, I don't know the legal ramifications about using information from the internet, but I thought a writer had to give credit to sources used when directly quoting and such.

    Although the SB site is down right now, IIRC most of the sources were published books, including one by Charles Bird Grinnell, who is quite famous. In fact, anyone in Native American studies would recognize most if not all of those sources (Candy, Sarah, and Candy’s friend Kate found the references in Google books, I think). In any case, there should always be attribution to avoid a charge of plagiarism, but even with attribution one cannot simply quote or paraphrase without AT LEAST specific attribution like a footnote or endnote (specific to the passage) and, in the case of a direct quote, quotation marks. Close paraphrasing can still be plagiarism, however. Although plagiarism itself, as Jane pointed out, is not a legal concept or term and has no legal implications in and of itself. If, however, someone uses unattributed work, which has a registered copyright, then there is the potential for a claim and a case of copyright infringement, which, as Jane pointed out, doesn’t require any conscious intent to prove (that is, if you copy work that has been copyrighted and registered, it’s infringement, whether you meant to or not).

    On a side note, am I the only one who can’t see any of the block quote formatting in these comments?

  12. Robin
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 12:31:39

    Uh, and when I pressed post, the site reverted back to the blue and white — but at least I can see the block quote formatting now, lol.

  13. Jane
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 12:33:38

    am working to fix the block quote thingy.

  14. Chicklet
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 12:41:15

    But has anyone alerted the publisher in question? Seems like something a publisher might like to know.

    In the first post on this matter, Candy said they had emailed the same information to The Penguin Group and to Dorchester.

  15. ag
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 13:02:33

    Wow, another great piece of detective work by both SB and you. Thanks for the public service. Oh, and just out of curiosity, did Ms Lee’s lawyer/solicitor eventually contact you?

    I guess by the fact that you’re still posting, that she has not managed to drag your name through the mud. For that, I’ll be eternally grateful to her. Stay funny ;)

  16. Jane
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 13:48:12

    No, we never got contacted by Ms. Lee’s lawyer. We do occasionally receive emails from Ms. Lee but haven’t been served with any papers, etc.

  17. Robin
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 15:31:48

    Wow, it’s fixed! I’m probably biased here (ya think?), but I think this is one good-looking blog, lol.

  18. Flight into Fantasy » In lieu of content
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 16:32:46

    […] and pasting done by romance author Cassie Edwards. You can find links to the original posts from the summary at Dear Author. I’d link to the posts themselves from here, but the SBTB site has been kind of wonky for me […]

  19. Jessica Inclan
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 17:02:07

    With the myth, wouldn’t that story fall under the “common knowledge” law, meaning, that it’s a common story (like any biblical story) and the retelling of that story wouldn’t be plagiarism. So if in a novel, a character told the story of Jesus on the cross, it would likely sound similar to other more famous tellings of it.

    The ferret aspect, well, I don’t know about the common knowledge aspect there. If you are doing research and get close to paraphrasing, you need to just rewrite and then give credit where credit is due at the end of the book or in the acknowledgements.

    I teach freshman composition at a community college, and you would not beleive what we go through in terms of students stealing off the internet. I can pretty much put in a phrase and poof! there is the essay it came from. I think that if our authors are doing it, we are doomed.

    Jessica

  20. stephanie feagan
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 17:55:51

    Maybe I’m just PMSing, but somehow this post struck a sad note for me.

    Then again, maybe it’s because I volunteered to review a Cassie Edwards book for Paperback Reader, reasoning that a.) I’ve never actually read one and I want to form my own opinion, and b) I’m insane.

  21. Anonymous
    Jan 07, 2008 @ 19:08:58

    Not to sound like a victim but people have been stealing from the Lakota since the Americas was first “discovered”, so Cassie Edwards stealing from Standing Bear isn't a surprise to me. (I wonder if there will be a problem because the original text was not in English?) Either way maybe this will finally convince Cassie Edwards to stop writing her noble savage finds love in the arms of a wisichu books. I think her written portrayals of Lakota and other Native people is almost as insulting as her stealing the words from a deceased Oglala leader.

  22. Sheryl
    Jan 08, 2008 @ 11:55:22

    *shakes head*

    what’s wrong with people these days?

    when I was growing up the idea of plagarism was a Bad Thing – now it’s acceptable?

    What’s Going On???

    :(

  23. Lisa
    Jan 10, 2008 @ 23:04:44

    Not to be a naysayer here, but the writings are not EXACTLY the same as was alluded to earlier by Jane. They’re similar, but similar doesn’t equate to plagiarism. When you write about factual details, like the color or size of an animal’s foot, naturally that information may appear in more than one author’s story, especially if the authors are writing about the same subject matter.

  24. Austin
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 19:06:19

    Of course they’re the same. To doubt otherwise makes me suspicious of your motives.

    Edwards thievery: their closest relations are European ferrets and Siberian polecats. Researchers theorize that polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska, to establish the New World population.

    Paul Tome original: Their closest relatives are European ferrets and Siberian polecats. Researchers theorize polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska to establish the New World population

  25. Sources for Plagiarists’ Excuses « The Not-so-deep Thoughts
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 00:23:31

    […] Author: start here and don’t skip this […]

  26. Jennifer
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 19:45:47

    hi everyone out there i am one of cassie edwards fans i have all of her books and i ran up on this sight. i have seen some sad things go on but this is just silly she wrote the book almost a year ago you think someone would have found it before it got out on store shevles. you never know she might have asked the person who wrote the ferret book if she could use it or she might have researched it somewhere and put it in the same words not knowing that it was already in another book WE ARE ONLY HUMAN PROBLEMS HAPPEN YOU ALL ACT LIKE SHE WE OUT AND KILLED SOMEONE OR RAPED A CHILD ITS A BOOK. GET OVER IT, ITS JUST A BOOK.

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