Thursday, October 25, 2007

Plagiarism? Think not.

You might have heard about the plagiarism controversy surrounding Jessica Seinfeld's new cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. Basically, Missy Chase Lapine, another cookbook writer, is claiming that Seinfeld plagiarized from Lapine's book, The Sneaky Chef. Both cookbooks are based on the unoriginal idea that you can hide good-for-you foods in bad-for-you foods to fool your kids into eating vegetables and fruits when they think they're just eating chocolatey brownies. Anyway, Slate has a good piece that actually compares the recipes in the two books and concludes that the plagiarism accusation is pretty much a joke. I found Lapine's whine of "Why is Seinfeld on Oprah instead of meeeee?" particularly annoying. The article also has a nice explanation of how copyright differs from plagiarism, which is more a question of dishonesty as opposed to theft.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Lapine is very fortunate to may have been plagiarized because now she’ll make so much more money from the media exposure….that’s the logic of many folks, who don’t even know Ms. Lapine. Yeh, she’ll even be more happy when her greedy lawyers start deposing the Seinfeld’s entire HarperCollins book prep team in 3-4 weeks to see who leaked Ms. Lapine’s manuscript. HarperCollins even had to change the artwork on Seinfeld’s book cover (a winking lady with carrots nearby) because Ms. Lapine’s publisher complained when they noticed a flyer on the book. You see, Ms. Lapine didn’t use an agent when she first presented her manuscript to HarperCollins so the book staff could possibly have just said, ” Heh, look here, a free manuscript to steal. Nobody will ever know.”

sai said...

I think the article says that there's a difference between copyright infringement (which has legal consequences, requiring lawyers) and plagiarism... and it implies that the differences in the books are significant enough to beat a copyright infringement claim. Not having any kids to fool, I haven't bothered to look at either of the books so I can't say for myself - but maybe its enough to get a happy little settlement out of Harper Collins to make Lapine feel better.