Steal a Character, Pay the Piper
"As a comedian, actor and satirist, Chris Elliott has made a career out of blurring the line between truth and absurdity. As a novelist, he has unintentionally fuzzied things further by falling for an online spoof and incorporating a fictional robot into his book as a historical figure.
"Now, Mr. Elliott finds himself in a comic nightmare, bending over backward to avoid being accused of a comedian's cardinal sin - lifting someone else's joke - and agreeing to a financial settlement with the robot's creator to head off potential litigation."
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Here's the issue: the book in question, "The Shroud of the Thwacker," (Miramax Books, Oct. 2005) is a spoof on period mysteries, but it incorporates a supposedly historical character called "Boilerplate."
Unfortunately for Elliott, Boilerplate is a fictional character created by illustrator and graphic novelist Paul Guinan.
Does this sound familiar?
To readers of this blog it should. It's part of the grounds for my beef with Random House and Sony. How many hundreds of similarities must there be between two characters before infringement can be found?
Certainly the HBHG folks will be looking at this one as well.