Update on “A Hidden Passion” by Lucia Logan

I’ve just had an email from Dreamspinner Press regarding the above book.

Dear Erastes

As you may have by now seen, this title is no longer in our catalog.  It will take somewhat longer for it to be removed from the distribution system.  We did not undertake the publishing of this title casually.  The editorial staff here felt we were unqualified to judge a title based on another work, so we had it reviewed by a copyright lawyer and a professor of literature, who both believed it was suitable for publication.  Be that as it may, with the author’s full support, we have withdrawn the title.

Sincerely,
Dreamspinner Press

————————————-

As you  can imagine I’m pleased about this, and that will be the end of the matter as far as this community is concerned.

12 Responses

  1. I can’t help but feel saddened by the whole thing, though. I sincerely hope that Lucia Logan soldiers on and offers us a historical title of her own someday and that Dreamspinner continues to improve on their publishing efforts and standards. I’d hate to see the small number of writers and publishers of gay historicals dwindle even more.

  2. That is completely how I feel and in fact that’s almost exactly what I said to Dreamspinner. I would hate that LL would not try again – anyone can make a mistake – and she writes WELL.

    I also pointed out that the 2nd novel I had from them “A Summer Place” by Ariel Tachna was extremely well written and that I would be reviewing it soon.

  3. “Dreamspinner continues to improve on their publishing efforts and standards.”
    “anyone can make a mistake”

    You’re both more forgiving and open-minded than me (which is definitely a good thing; I admit to being a glass half empty kind of person). As far as I can tell Dreamspinner has no standards other than being a friend of the owner within her fandom (and being willing to re-write a story to remove the names of real people). And the “mistake” Lucia Logan made was one anyone with common sense would never make: taking a book and sentence by sentence altering it slightly and claiming it as their own. If this site and others like it hadn’t questioned the ethics of publishing “A Hidden Passion” so eloquently, they still wouldn’t believe they had done anything wrong. Honestly, I imagine they still don’t.

  4. I wonder myself if they do know, I have to be honest. I get the distinct feeling that it’s like the old adage that

    “They aren’t sorry they did wrong, they are just very sorry that they got caught.”

    But I have to hope they do! I have less sympathy for the publisher – despite their assertions (for, lets be honest, what “professor of literature” would think this was a good idea? And I work in a law firm and even the conveyancers I work with raised their eyebrows) – they should have known better without pause – and if they DIDN’T (and gah – why not -anti- plagiarism is drummed into kids from age dot) then they are in the wrong business.

  5. How can you be strict in judging this book? Ok, Logan copies – well, almost transcribes – “Jane Eyre”, but the result is such an irresistible guilty pleasure, that you cannot help but fall in love with this gay version of the classic story. Charlotte Bronte provides atmosphere and romance while Lucia Logan adds some sexy scenes. Now that the publishing house has withdrawn this title, it could become a cult favourite.

  6. York74

    Because it’s theft. It might not be “illegal” purely because the work is no longer in the public domain but just imagine the furore caused if someone did the same with Stephen King or Terry Pratchett. I don’t know if you write yourself, but imagine how you might feel if you produced a book, and then someone came along and copied vast chunks of your hard work and passed them off as their own work – and worse still, getting praised for it.

    I don’t know if it is removed from the catalogue actually. It appears to be still on Amazon, they don’t seem to have the same moral indignation as I do.

    As I noted, Logan CAN write, and I would have been so thrilled to read something of her own, something by a GOOD writer, rather than something copied from a great writer.

  7. “How can you be strict in judging the book?”

    Easily. You gave the answer to that one yourself: “Logan copies–well, almost transcribes–’Jane Eyre’.”

    Now, I am old-fashioned in some respects. I admit this. But I have this odd notion that when “By X” is written on a book’s cover, the book should NOT be virtually copied from Y. The fact that “Jane Eyre” has been around since 1848 and in the public domain for some time does not excuse Logan. She very deliberately copied Bronte’s writing, character after character, scene after scene, put her name on it, and sold it to a publisher.

    YOU DON’T TAKE CREDIT FOR WORK THAT YOU COPIED FROM SOMEONE ELSE. It’s dishonest. It’s immoral. It’s wrong.

    “Charlotte Bronte provides atmosphere and romance while Lucia Logan adds some sexy scenes.”

    Logan added three sex scenes (all before marriage, and a gay marriage at that, in nineteenth-century England). The rest, I’m afraid, was all transcribed or thesaurus-altered Bronte–who was NOT credited for her work.

    Frankly, this was not a guilty pleasure for me. It could have been a pleasure, albeit not a guilty one–I don’t feel guilty about reading gay love stories. But from the first page, I recognized that I would not be dealing with unique, complex characters that I’d never seen before in a legally and socially perilous situation which would be bound to put a strain on their love, but with Gay Rochester and Genderswitched Jane.

    I didn’t want to read a gayed-up, identical-in-every-respect version of Bronte’s book; I wanted Logan to tell her own story. Sadly, that’s not what I got. I got a copy of “Jane Eyre” with a slightly different cover, trying to pretend that it wasn’t the work of Charlotte Bronte.

    And the fact that you happened to enjoy what was, in essence, genderswitched and plagiarized fanfic of “Jane Eyre” does not make the plagiarism any less despicable.

  8. Hello!
    I did not mean “guilty pleasure” because it is a gay love story. I meant it as an appreciation for something that is clearly a cheesy operation, but you cannot help but like it, just like your favourite B-movie. That is why I consider this title nothing more than an odd curiosity I can’t feel angry about.
    And hasn’t film director Gus Van Sant volunteerly done the same with his remake of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”? It is Hitchcock’s original almost frame by frame, but that does not prevent it from being a very enjoyable film!

  9. York74 – are you slow? Seriously? You don’t know the difference between material consciously and overtly used (and paid for, no doubt, to Hitch’s estate) as a direct, artistic homage, and wholesale, lazy theft, passed off as entirely original work?

    Words absolutely fail me. You may not be bothered. I can assure you, a lot of people who take their craft seriously, really are.

  10. Wow, sounds like a great parody of Jane Eyre.
    Pity it was withdrawn from publication.
    Since parody is an accepted use of another’s
    material, I don’t understand the outrage.

  11. Vivian:

    Parody (noun)

    1. a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet’s soliloquy.
    2. the genre of literary composition represented by such imitations.
    3. a burlesque imitation of a musical composition.
    4. any humorous, satirical, or burlesque imitation, as of a person, event, etc.
    5. the use in the 16th century of borrowed material in a musical setting of the Mass (parody Mass).
    6. a poor or feeble imitation or semblance; travesty: His acting is a parody of his past greatness.
    –verb (used with object)
    7. to imitate (a composition, author, etc.) for purposes of ridicule or satire.
    8. to imitate poorly or feebly; travesty.

    The only two that apply are six and eight, as it was neither hilarious, burlesque or satirical.

    However:

    Plagiarism (n)

    1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.
    2. something used and represented in this manner.

    I think you – as does Ms Logan – need to learn the difference. When I buy a book (even when it says it is an “homage”) I expect the words to be original even if the idea is copied from someone else. I’d be pissed off if someone wrote a thinly veiled copy of my novel, but if they actually copied the text? That’s another matter entirely. It doesn’t matter if the copyright is done or not – every year college students are failed on their papers because they copy the words of other people, and quite often the copyright to the words they stole are expired also.

    It’s lazy, it’s immoral. But most of all – It’s wrong. There’s no more simple way of saying that, and I feel sorry for you if you can’t see that.

  12. Vivian:

    “A Hidden Passion” was a genderswitched “Jane Eyre”–but Logan was not trying to ridicule “Jane Eyre,” or hold it up to criticism. She stated in the forward to “A Hidden Passion” that Bronte’s work was one of her favorite books. People don’t generally mock things they like and respect.

    You might also want to check out this article:

    http://www.publaw.com/parody.html

    Here’s a quote from that site about “fair use” :

    “The Copyright Act in Section 107 enumerates four “fair use factors” that must be analyzed to determine whether a particular use of a copyrighted work, such as a parody, is fair use. These factors are the (1) purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is commercially motivated or instead is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) nature of the copyrighted work; (3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in the newly created work in relation to the copyrighted work; and (4) effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

    So let’s examine the fair use factors in this case, shall we?

    “A Hidden Passion” was sold commercially. Logan didn’t write it as a book of criticism or commentary on “Jane Eyre”; it wasn’t part of a research project; it wasn’t part of a news report or a book review; it wasn’t supposed to be funny. Its function was to be a commercially viable, serious gay romance. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be a parody, but it does toss three of the main reasons for parody–criticism, commentary and humor–right out the window.

    “A Hidden Passion” was not simply reporting facts in a humorous way, as, for example, a political satirist might do. It was written in a voice, tone and style very similar to that of a well-known creative work. Written parodies of fiction generally have to be done in pretty broad strokes to let the audience know that you are, in fact, deliberately writing a parody. It’s also a good idea if a parody is funny, or at least shows that it tried to be funny. “A Hidden Passion” does nothing of the sort.

    Third, “A Hidden Passion” was not significantly different from “Jane Eyre”–it copied “Jane Eyre,” often word for word. A parody is supposed to offer a new and funny way of looking at the work, a different insight. It’s not supposed to be the same work recycled.

    Further, to quote again from that same article:

    “…when the new work becomes a substitute for, or makes the purchase unnecessary of the appropriated original copyrighted work then *it is highly unlikely that the courts would sanction such use as being a fair use of the original work.* The courts have expressed this standard by finding that an unauthorized use is not a fair use when the unauthorized use diminishes or negatively impacts the potential sale of the original copyrighted work, interferes with the marketability of the work, or fulfills the demand for the original copyrighted work.”

    “A Hidden Passion” doesn’t qualify as parody, or as fair use of the source material. It does qualify as what it is–plagiarism.

    Or, if you like this phrase better, Vivian, “copying someone else’s work and trying to make money from it.”

    There’s a word for that, but it’s not “parody.” It’s “theft.”

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