Karen E. Quinones Blogs on POP CULTURE, MOVIE REVIEWS, BOOK REVIEWS, POLITICAL VIEWS, WRITING & PUBLISHING TIPS, AND A HODGE-PODGE OF EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN, INCLUDING ROPA VIEJA AND TIME INSURANCE!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Philadelphia Writer Sues Oprah for Plagarizing
Phila. writer sues Oprah for ‘plagiarizing’ book
(All I can say is "Wow!" I know there's a producer at Oprah who may be in danger of losing his/her job!)
By Sam Wood
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Most writers would sell their souls to have their work spotlighted by Oprah Winfrey.
After all, Winfrey's endorsement can make stars out of unknowns. When featured on her syndicated talk show, books rocket to the top of the best seller lists.
So it comes as a bit of surprise to learn that one Philadelphia writer is suing Oprah, claiming that she read selections from a booklet he penned a decade ago.
Charles Harris, in a suit filed this week in U.S. District Court, says Oprah recited selections from his work last year without permission.
He also claims Winfrey - who is widely regarded as having more power to increase sales than any other media personality - neglected to credit him or mention the booklet's title.
Harris says Winfrey's unauthorized use was "deliberate, willful, malicious, oppressive and without regard to [his] property rights." A spokeswoman for Winfrey said Tuesday she could not offer comment. "We have not been served in this lawsuit," she said.
Harris says he wrote How America Elects Her Presidents in 2000 and has been selling them through his own company. The booklet is not available - nor is it mentioned - on Amazon.com or any other mass market retailer.
In the 12-page suit filed Monday, Harris says eh thought it would be a "good business opportunity" if Winfrey championed his book.
So he says he mailed off 10 copies to Harpo, Winfrey's production company, in January 2008. When Winfrey didn't ring back after five weeks, Harris tried calling and spoke with a Harpo employee who said there was no record of receiving them. Harris says he sent the books via certified mail and says he received confirmation that they were delivered.
On Feb. 16 2009, Harris says he was thrown into "shock and dismay" as he watched Oprah. Winfrey, he said, recited several questions included in his booklet. "She was also highly praising of the information contained in the booklet."
He says "the language and structure of the questions were exactly the same" as the copyrighted material in his book.
The suit says the material was not intended for Winfrey's show and that "plagerizing from Mr. Harris' booklet How America Elects Her Presidents constitutes copyright infringement in violation of the Copyright Act."
Harris claims Winfrey damaged his business reputation and goodwill and caused a loss of all profits. He wants $150,000 for each "intentional unlawful use," and additional money to cover damages, and lost profits. He also demands that Winfrey destroy any remaining copies of the booklet in her possession.
Harris's company, Unique Products and Services, could not be immediately located. The filing attorney named on the suit, James Lee of Brooker Richardson and Associates, did not return calls