James Bond, Plagiarism, and Intellectual Property

So it looks like a recently published spy thriller, Assassin of Secrets,1 was largely plagiarized by the “author” from quite a few other novels — some post-Fleming Bond novels and others.

Now, when someone like myself says he is against intellectual “property,” as an illegitimate government grant of monopoly privilege over something that cannot be owned (i.e., ideas), the responses are fairly predictable.

A common one is “Well, then what’s to stop me from copying your novel, changing the name on it, and selling it as my own?”

Well, your customers could sue you for fraud, for one thing. No need for copyright to make that possible.

For another, in the Internet age, you run a very high risk of being found out and ruining your reputation.

In this case, fans of James Bond novels discovered the plagiarism first. As you can imagine, fans can be mighty protective of their favorite books and authors. Try to rip one off and some fan is bound to spot it, and soon they’ll all be royally pissed.

Simon Gardner, the son of John Gardner, said he hoped “the exposure of this act of plagiarism will act as a lesson to others that think they might try to dupe publishers and the public alike”. “Whether the authors are alive or dead, there are enough fans of popular fiction to come down fast and hard on anyone who tries to rip off their favourite authors. That is the power of fans and I salute and thank you all on behalf of John Edmund Gardner,” he wrote on Facebook.

Lisa Moylett, Gardner’s literary executor, also praised her author’s fans for uncovering the plagiarism. “You don’t mess with Bond fans: they watch and monitor everything and are a very well-organised community,” she said.

One of the reviewers, who had praised the book, was then alerted to the plagiarism and brought the bad news to the attention of the publishers. As you can imagine, they’re all quite embarrassed that they got duped and will probably be more careful in the future. Their reputations are on the line too, after all. The book has been pulled from shelves and customers are going to be reimbursed. And QR Markham, a.k.a. Quentin Rowan, is now known around the globe as a plagiarist.

[Cross-posted at Prometheus Unbound.]

  1. A rather cheesy title, no? 

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