There are some things you can always count on in one of today’s modern vampire novels: a breathless, cross-species love affair, bone-breaking lovemaking, lots of smoldering eyes and buckets of spilled blood. But, according to TMZ, an author named Jordan Scott claims she saw a few too many similarities between her 2006 vamp tale, “The Nocturne,” and “Twilight” scribe Stephenie Meyer’s 2008 book, “Breaking Dawn.”
In a cease-and-desist letter obtained by the site, Scott’s publisher claims the fourth book in the “Twilight” series has “striking and substantial” similarities to “The Nocturne,” part of a trilogy that 21-year-old musician/author Scott began writing when she was 15.
The letter claims there are a number of coincidences in the plotlines of the books, including a wedding, a post-wedding sex scene, a woman becoming sick because she’s carrying a child with “evil powers” and the death of a main character. The letter from a lawyer for Scott also claims that “both the ideas and in many instances the text” of the two books are very similar.
Among the examples of the similarities is a scene in which a main character is ill from carrying a child with dark powers. In Scott’s book, the description reads in part, “Her face was so pale, it was frightening; and there were beads of sweat pouring down her forehead. She couldn’t even stand, she was so weak. … She was violently ill, vomiting and scarcely able to catch her breath.”
In the allegedly similar scene in “Dawn,” Meyer writes: “Most of her dark hair was pulled away from her face into a messy knot, but a few strands stuck limply to her forehead and neck, to the sheen of sweat that covered her skin. There was something about her fingers and wrists that looked so fragile it was scary. She was sick. Very sick.”
The dozen examples given by Scott’s lawyer display some general similarities in tone and setting common to vampire tales, but, according to TMZ, an unnamed representative for Meyer dismissed the accusation. “The claim that ‘Breaking Dawn’ by Stephenie Meyer somehow infringes on an alleged book by someone named Jordan Scott is completely without merit. Neither Stephenie Meyer nor her representatives had any knowledge of this writer or her supposed book prior to this claim.”
You may have heard the story, but you didn’t hear it here. Why? Well, as Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer‘s team states, “The claim that Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer somehow infringes on an alleged book by someone named Jordan Scott is completely without merit.”
The response issued by Twilight Lexicon, to be sure, is accurate. Says TL, “Loose fantasy ideas are not copyrightable, otherwise all vampire fiction would have stopped at Bram Stoker. Neither are loose romance plots copyrightable, or Harlequin would not be a leader in romance.”
It is true that under the federal United States copyright statutes, facts, ideas, words, and short phrases are simply not copyrightable – for reasons eloquently identified by the Lexicon’s analysis. There also exists a doctrine of “independent origination” which indicates that where an artist is unlikely to have seen or directly copied from a prior work, but comes up with something similar (that’s not to say that the alleged materials in question were in fact similar), there is no infringement.
The allegations contained in the materials submitted to TMZ simply reflect a contention that a side-by-side portrayal of vaguely familiar sentiments contained in Breaking Dawn and Jordan Scott’s piece called The Nocturne is worthy of a cease and desist order. The claim is that the storylines and some of the dialogue or prose in the two are similar – though, a reading of the documents might lead you to disagree with that assertion all your own – and that this gives rise to a federal case.
The continued statement by Stephenie Meyer’s team says it all, in response to these claims.
Neither Stephenie Meyer nor her representatives had any knowledge of this writer or her supposed book prior to this claim. Ms. Scott’s attorney has yet to furnish us with a copy of the book to support this claim as requested. The world of The Twilight Saga and the stories within it are entirely the creation of Ms. Meyer. Her books have been a phenomenal sensation, and perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that other people may seek to ride the coattails of such success. This claim is frivolous and any lawsuit will be defended vigorously.
You can read the rest of Twilight Lexicon’s rebuttal, which includes a great deal of interesting information about the so-called “plaintiff” here.