79

Harry Potter wasn't a particularly original story. For people who read a lot of fantasy, many of its themes, settings and characters were deeply familiar. But Rowling did a very good job bringing her own vision to it. Your story doesn't sound --to me --at all like Harry Potter. But like most fantasy stories, including Harry Potter, it has some familiar ...


41

Plagiarism would be taking exact text from the various game manuals and representing it as your own. So don't do that. But you probably weren't going to anyway, because you want to tell a story, not publish a game log. Think of your story as being inspired by your game, but retell it as a story. When you tell a story you use the language of description, ...


30

Your friend is wrong. That's not nearly enough like Harry Potter to be a problem. My guess is that your friend has read Harry Potter but not any other urban fantasy; many, many urban fantasy stories start out with an old enemy resurfacing; a protagonist who didn't know about the magical world suddenly becoming aware of it; said protagonist ending up being &...


27

I am not a lawyer, but you really should not do this. Orson Scott Card (OSC) and any partners he has (publisher, movie studios) own "Ender", and you cannot profit from it in any way whatsoever. OSC and his partners are rich enough to sue you even if you don't make any money, and may even be legally obligated to sue you in order to protect their property, if ...


22

The law is your friend: Legally, the work does belong to you. Once you start freely distributing it in places where you are clearly giving up control, good luck enforcing that. Copyright doesn't require you to fill any paperwork to be legal. If the book gets into a public environment, though, it's really hard to stop people who aren't making money off of it ...


17

I haven't heard this five-word rule. But I can easily think of many sequences of five words that no one would seriously consider plagiarism. I think that I will was the first time that Britain, France, Germany, and Italy all men, women, and children March 1 of this year turn left at the traffic light (that's six!) five words in a row Etc etc. If some ...


17

Don't steal the plot, Don't steal their made-up words or made-up references, don't steal their (imaginative) tech, don't steal their characters or their unique combination of characteristics that make those characters particularly compelling. Yes, you can presume there is some sort of interstellar engine, either near instantaneous (days or weeks of travel ...


16

I'm sure that Todd J. Greenwald's friends might have told him that his idea for what later became the Disney Channel TV series Wizards of Waverly Place was too similar to Harry Potter, but apparently it was different enough to produce four seasons of episodes without being shut down for plagiarism. And the friends of the creators of the Upside-Down Magic ...


16

Your book is going to be stolen. Just get used to that. Sometimes they are stolen from the printer with the camera-ready pages (or PDFs nowadays). Some of my books were on pirate sites before they were on shelves. It's not even like these people want these particular books, but they compete with their friends on numbers. See Ebook Piracy Is Rampant And ...


15

You're being overly sensitive. Any combination of two words, no matter how original, could be already used elsewhere. That's not plagiarism, that's statistics. The only slightly worrying case is your exhibit A, since it's the most unusual sentence of the ones you cited. But then again, I wouldn't fret about it. They are just three words in a line, even if ...


15

This probably should have been raised over on law.se, but I hang out there, and can answer. (See this question and answer from law for more on fair use.) The literary homage in which one alludes to another work has a long tradition behind it. In some cases it could be treated as infringement, but hasn't been. However, some authors choose to exercise ...


14

It's all been done before: I am not joking when I say I think I've answered this question before, but I can't seem to find the reference. The fact is, every possible story has been done before - at least twice. The ancients already had most of the plot lines in broad terms while still in the BC's. I suspect if the library of Alexandria hadn't burned, even ...


13

El ver mucho y el leer mucho avivan los ingenios de los hombres. (Seeing much and reading much sharpens one's ingenuity.) ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Your fear of plagiarism is a common anxiety for beginning writers. After you gain experience and confidence in yourself, you will have no problems producing original content, and you'll stop worrying about ...


12

You cannot stop people from drawing comparisons between your work and earlier, similar works. Readers are going to do it no matter how original you strive to be. You cannot cover up an influence that actually exists in your writing, because people familiar with the original ideas have a bias for recognition of those same ideas. It sounds like what you're ...


11

If they're on the Internet, someone has a copy of them. They are free now, and you will never have full control of them again. I won't swear to it, but I think when EL James got her book contract for the Fifty Shades trilogy, she deleted all the posted versions of those stories (which were after all Twilight fanfic). I seem to recall that older versions ...


11

Do Songs and Paintings have the same rules and protections as Books and Film for copying (into written form). Songs and paintings are protected under copyright laws, but it might be helpful to understand what copyright is meant to do. Copyright is not intended to rob you of your creativity under the threat of lawyers. Copyright is intended to protect an ...


11

You are allowed to reuse ideas, but you are not allowed to reuse exact characters, names, or blocks of text. Let's take The Lord of the Rings as an example. You're not allowed to use the character Gandalf, but you can certainly use a wizardly mentor figure. You can't use Frodo or Sauron, but if you want to have a peace-loving hobbit go on a quest to ...


11

In short: Everything you just listed is completely fine. There's nothing wrong with taking a specific plot point in a book and then having your own unique spin on it. Nobody can plagiarize you for having a similar plot in the story. If this were the case, most fantasy-based or sci-fi genre boarding schools could be copyrighted by J.K Rowling, places on ...


10

Yes, it's certainly possible that posting on the internet could lead to someone stealing your ideas. But will this actually happen? There are risks, however small, to showing your work to anyone. Most writers that publish know the benefits of peer feedback, and take the risk anyway. Many people have reaped benefits from posting excerpts on the web for ...


10

There is nothing new under the sun, my friend. If you read TV Tropes you might be forgiven for thinking that all plots are like all other plots. However it is not the plots (there are considered to be only seven or so actual plots anyway) but the characterisations, details, names etc that make your world unique to you. If you are worried that you have by ...


10

I don't know about the legality of it but this has already been done. A bunch of french players and their dungeon master turned their stories into comic books. In french it's called "Chroniques de la lune noire", aka "Black moon chronicles". It is very famous among french D&D players. You may want to read on that. As a fun side note their world and ...


10

Firstly, I think it would be funny if the characters couldn't remember if it was five or six realms. But seriously, if you are worried about some fantasy trope being used before then you're going to have to invent alot of things that no one has thought of in hundreds of years. Have there been magic stones? Oh yes, lots of times, but those were different ...


9

If your work is visible to the public, you cannot prevent plagiarism. You could reduce the likelihood of plagiarism by posting your work on a site that is protected by a password (and perhaps a user agreement). But this also reduces availability. You can perhaps increase your chances of detecting plagiarism by setting up a Google alert for one or more ...


9

Don't plagiarize, paraphrase. Take the paragraph, figure out the main idea, and express it in your own words. If it's important that it be exactly as it was in the original, quote it and cite it. In fact --as mentioned by Jason Bassford in the comments below! --even when paraphrasing, you typically need to cite your source unless you're changing the ...


8

First off, you're mixing two things: copyright violation and plagiarism. They are completely different. The point of copyright law is to protect the financial interests of the writer. If you copy someone else's work and sell it as your own, then you are costing the original author sales. Court cases on copyright center on whether the copied work would cost ...


8

They should rewrite it. If the character is supposed to be smart enough to be lecturing on the subject, the words should sound like the character anyway and not like Wikipedia or wherever. Also, if they are citing in big enough chunks, it will likely get boring for the reader. Much better to have the character's audience interrupt with a question or ...


8

Generally the manner of publication makes no difference. If you have published it, you are its author and have the right to get credit for it. This is actually one of the rights that are covered by an international treaty and can't be transferred or lost. That said... People will not credit you for work they do not know about. If your philosophical theory ...


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