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Novelist and playwright embroiled in intellectual property clash

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2017 | Intellectual Property

What some in New York are claiming is an example of an artist defending his rights, others describe as a bitter rivalry sparked by jealousy over a partner’s success. The case involves a struggling playwright whose ex-girlfriend’s first novel won critical and popular approval. He says she plagiarized his unpublished screenplay, but she contends her ex is trying to sabotage her career and reputation by claiming she stole his intellectual property.

The couple met when she was just 20 and already an award-winning writer, having won acclaim for a literary short story published at the age of 17. Her ex was 33 and shared her dream of becoming a published writer. However, the relationship lasted only a few years, and she claims that during that time, he was abusive and unfaithful. Nevertheless, they often read and edited each other’s work. It was in this way, the man claims, that his former girlfriend got some of her ideas for her successful book.

Experts on copyright law and plagiarism say that the examples of plagiarism to which the lawsuit points may not really be plagiarism. The passages are vague and general, and claims of plagiarism may not stand up in court, according to a law professor. However, the playwright also claims the woman installed spyware on a laptop they often shared, and if she accessed his documents remotely after the breakup, she may face legal trouble.

Those with a vested interest in intellectual property protection may take notice of how the court decides this case. While there are certainly more details which have not been released to the press, the fact remains that those in the creative arts have every right to defend their works if they feel someone has plagiarized. Seeking the assistance of a New York attorney with experience in intellectual property laws is often the best place to start.

Source:, “Can the Plagiarism Charges Against Emma Cline Hold Up in Court?“, Lila Shapiro, Dec. 1, 2017