Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Musings on Protecting Your Babies

Baby manuscripts, that is.

It came out today that Vancouver resident Emil Malak is renewing his suit against James Cameron and 20th Century Fox, claiming that the mega-blockbuster film Avatar borrowed 45 elements of a manuscript that he wrote.

But how would an LA-based film studio get their hands on the manuscript of a restaurant owner who lives in Vancouver? Did he post it on his blog? Self-publish it to an e-books site? Email it to friends who turned out to have less scruples than he thought?


He says he submitted it to them. Or, rather, to Cameron's company.

Whether Cameron's film actually borrowed from his manuscript or not remains to be proven. However, cases like this only serve to fuel the fever of anxiety so many writers face when it comes to the act of submitting their work: what if they steal it? What if they like it just enough tot hire someone else to rewrite it? What if I lose out?

Lord knows this happens - RARELY - but I have heard of instances of this happening. But should we let this stop us from sending out our work?

I think it shouldn't.

Should we be careful about who we send our work to? Yes. Should we keep copies of our work? YES, always. But we shouldn't let instances like this stop us from sending our work out.

For one thing, for every one case of copyright infringement, there are millions of cases where that has NOT happened.

But here's the main thing: even if someone does steal your work once, even if you do lose out on income from that manuscript that you worked hard on, even if you take them to court and lose...

You can still write another book. You have a lifetime of books ahead of you. You have a whole career ahead of you.

But those guys? Those guys who steal people's work and passed it off as their own? They can't write for crap.

Has anyone ever stolen your work? If not, has hearing the stories made you worry that it will happen to you? Has it stopped you from submitting your work?


  1. I'm not worried about it. When I finish a manuscript I make a copy of it and mail it to myself. When it comes back to me, I keep it unopened and in safekeeping. If anyone steals my work the US Government (the Post Office) will back up my claim to ownership.

  2. I'm not worried about it either. I research the editors and agents I send stuff to, and I trust my CPs.

  3. I'm not worried about it either. I think if you research who you send to, it should be okay.

  4. I'm much less bothered than I used to be. What are the chances, you can't afford to be too cautious anyway.

    Can't wait to meet up again :)