Plagiarism allegations are about as common in the entertainment world as celebrity cheating scandals — they both happen all the freakin’ time!! Whether you’re a musician, YouTube star, or even a best-selling author, basc no content creator is safe from accusations that they’ve stolen their ideas from someone else.
A lot of YA books have simply been accused of being rip-offs of another (Suzanne Collins‘ The Hunger Games was called into question for stealing aspects of the film, Battle Royale, and the highly publicized novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan), but no further action is ever taken. Although most plagiarism accusations never make their way into the court room, some do — even if they wind up being unsuccessful in the end.
Accused of Ripping Off: The Legend of Rah and the Muggles by Nancy Kathleen Stouffer & The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: Livid Land by Adrian Jacobs
Joanne 'Jo' Rowling is no stranger to court proceedings, as her best-selling Harry Potter franchise has been the subject of several lawsuits since the first book was published in '97. The author found herself arguing over the originality of her books in 1999 when The Legend of Rah's writer claimed J.K. stole the term 'muggle' and said Harry Potter was a direct copy of her character "Larry Potter," because he also had brown hair and glasses.
Later, the fourth HP novel was called into question by the Adrian Jacobs estate, claiming in an official statement that "both Willy and Harry are required to work out the exact nature of the main task of the contest, which they both achieve in a bathroom assisted by clues from helpers, in order to discover how to rescue human hostages imprisoned by a community of half-human, half-animal fantasy creatures."
Both lawsuits found the HP queen innocent of any plagiarism, though the author has successfully sued some other publications for ripping off her work.
Accused of Ripping Off: The Dark-Hunters Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Just after the Shadowhunters TV series premiered on Freeform, the book's author found herself at the center of a scandal when another writer basically called her a thief. Sherrilyn, who is an international best-selling author, claimed that Cassie was guilty of "trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and trade dress infringement," mentioning she "knowingly and willfully copied" Sherrilyn's book series that has a whopping 31 (!!!!) installments.
While no ruling on the lawsuit has been reported yet, Cassandra's reps expect the lawsuit to be thrown out telling The New York Times, "[It] failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie." We'll see!
Photo: Simon & Schuster
Accused of Ripping Off: The Nocturne by Jordan Scott
Stephenie's Twilight series remained lawsuit-free for three books, but when the fourth one came out, a young author accused her of plagiarism. Author Jordan Scott said the woman stole from his book and pirated the "vampire lore" theme.
The man told MTV, "From the main characters getting married and the description of the ceremonies, the feelings the characters are going through... these are not things you typically see in the vampire genre."
The lawsuit was eventually dropped and Steph's publishers made a rather pointed comment about Jordan. "This judgment confirms what we have known all along — Breaking Dawn is a wholly original work by Stephenie Meyer and this was a frivolous lawsuit brought for the purposes of publicizing the plaintiff's personal publishing aspirations." SAVAGE!
Photo: Little, Brown and Company
Accused of Ripping Off: The Maze by Tize Clark
A federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of a New Mexico resident who found some striking similarities between The Maze and The Maze Runner after he saw a preview for the film adaptation starring Dylan O'Brien.
Basically, Tize claims that James blatantly lifted the description of the maze itself and the characters from his 2004 self-published novel. To go even further, he claimed that the screenwriters ALSO stole aspects from The Maze that Mr. Dashner hadn't copied in the books!
Over a year and a half after the legal battle started, the U.S. District Court in New Mexico said that there was not sufficient evidence for Tize's claim, getting James and his successful franchise off the hook.
Photo: Random House LLC
Accused of Ripping Off: Mad Myth Mystery series by Robyn and Tony DiTocco
Like the lawsuit for The Maze Runner, it wasn't until the Percy Jackson books were becoming movies that the author got caught up in a legal investigation over possibly ripping off another writer's work.
In 2010, the husband and wife who wrote the Mad Myth series filed a lawsuit that declared their books, which involve a protagonist named Percy John (or "PJ"), the daily struggles of a 21st century teen and Greek mythology, served as the groundwork for Rick's mega-successful series.
As you could probably guess, the lawsuit didn't go anywhere. Despite the DiTocco's 100-example list of all the similarities, the judge decided not to proceed with the case because there were enough differences that outweighed the similarities.
Photo: Disney Hyperion
Accused of Ripping Off: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Remember when it was the thing to make a zombie parody of some of the world's favorite books? While a lot of people loved the spoofs (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies became a film, after all!), someone who obv didn't was Jeff Kinney, who wrote the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and clearly didn't want someone else making big bucks off of his original work (which, FYI, is a $500 million dollar franchise, according to The Hollywood Reporter).
In the lawsuit, the author's lawyers assert that Diary of a Zombie Kid is "obviously intended to confuse the public into believing that the Defendant's books are additions to [Jeff's] series."
It appears they were able to prove infringement, and Diary of a Zombie Kid was pulled from bookstore shelves as a part of the settlement, though neither party was able to publicly comment on the details.
Photo: Antarctic Press