Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Zondervan settles plagiarism case

Author Carey Scott and HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP)/Zondervan have reached a settlement in Scott’s copyright infringement lawsuit against the publisher and Christine Caine, a Christian author and founder of anti-human trafficking organization The A21 Campaign.
Scott has declined to share details of the settlement, and HCCP did not respond to requests for comment.

Scott, the author of Untangled: Let God Loosen the Knots of Insecurity in Your Life (Revell, 2015), filed the suit in early May 2018 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Zondervan is based, citing copyright infringement issues between her book and Caine’s book, Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny (Zondervan, May 2016), which has sold over 150,000 copies to date, according to the publisher.

We seem to live in an era in which inspirational stories can make a lot of money and yet can seem extravagantly cheap. 

Years ago James Harleman hosted a Film & Theology discussion of the film District 9, and I recall that one of the guys I knew in my Mars Hill days said he hated the film because "there's no redemption".  Well, James addressed that idea at some length in a discussion about District 9, noting that in American cinematic convention "redemption" is more along James Cameron's Avatar lines--it's not good enough for Americans that someone be plucked from the team of the devil and turned toward the path of salvation, whoever was working for the devil has to voluntarily and defiantly switch sides and himself (because almost invariably in this sort of genre tale it's a "he") becomes the celebrate messianic figure.  Of course there are "strong female character" variants on the trope but the Chosen One is more "powerful" or "redemptive" if they have been hidden away all this time in the bowels of an evil empire. 

It can get a bit A Million Little Pieces after a while ... .

It's become clearer in the last ten years that it's not just "the world" that sells this packaged narrative of "redemption" in which the supposedly "nobody" person gets to rise to the level of hero, the American mainstream/pop Christian publishing industry (across the doctrinal/political spectrum) revels in selling this kind of thing.  Call it a moment of crankiness but it can seem as though in American pop cultural terms everything is supposed to be a mixture of Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces filtered through Save the Cat.  When a self-help book is billed with an ad that says self-help books don't help the rebel sell seems to run full course.  If self-help books don't help why write yet another one?  But we'll have to get to that book when it gets out. 

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