#DailyKick—Update on Rachel Ann Nunes Case
A few months ago I began to track the case of Rachel Ann Nunes, whose clean romance novel was allegedly plagiarized by a woman named Sam Taylor Mullens, who first copied the novel, did a minor rewrite in which she added pornographic elements, and then packaged it as her own. Alert reviewers quickly noticed the similarities to Rachel Ann Nunes’s work and informed her of the copyright infringement.
The plagiarist went by the name of Sam Taylor Mullens, but had also begun creating online identities known as “sock-puppets” to promote her pornography by giving herself rave reviews on Amazon.com, Goodreads, and on various blogs. It was soon discovered that Sam Taylor Mullens was actually a third-grade teacher named Tiffanie Rushton, and her sock puppets were often named after her third-grade students.
When Rachel Ann Nunes and others began to make inquiries to the plagiarist about the book, she posted dozens of outrageous claims about how she had come to write the novel, saying at one point that she was a niece to Rachel Ann Nunes, at another that she was a friend of the author, and at another that she had permission from Nunes’s coauthor, and so on.
Realizing that she was about to get caught, Rushton then began using her online identities to attack Nunes’s work on Goodreads, on Amazon.com, as if seeking to destroy her career. She went even further and began a campaign of cyber-bullying, making dire threats.
Now, most plagiarists are smart enough to run and hide when they get caught, but not this lady. She’s a real piece of work. So Rachel is going to be forced to sue her.
However, the costs are monumental. The law enforcement agencies consider this to be a civil matter, and though there are criminal penalties for plagiarists, this isn’t the kind of plagiarism that was even possible twenty years ago. Rushton didn’t make copies of an existing book, print them up, and sell them as her own. Rather, for a small investment she simply altered the electronic files and sought to pass them off as her own.
So the only punishment that she is likely to get will come in a civil suit, but the estimated cost for this is enough so that it would bankrupt Nunes.
Given this, we’ve set up a page on GoFundMe where you can donate to the cause.
Now there some new twists to the case. Rachel has recently found an attorney who will handle her case but only charge about 1/10th of the cost up front. This means that she needs about $5000 in order to hire him. She still has tens of thousands of dollars that she has already spent and is trying to make up for, but she’s in serious need of funds. So if you can donate $20 or so, please do so.
However, there is a much bigger problem here. It seems that about every week I am hearing of new cases of plagiarism. Some of the plagiarists are using Rushton’s methodology—stealing bestsellers, calling them their own, and the bullying the author if they are caught, only to fade into anonymity. Others are just psychos who aren’t plagiarizing works, but merely pirating. These people are simply selling other people’s works and pocketing the money.
Given how rampant this is becoming (and I suspect that it will become more rampant in the future for reasons that I dare not disclose lest I give any crooks some good ideas), I’ve begun talking with an attorney. We’re looking at creating a non-profit organization that would simply “insure” authors against plagiarism. The idea is simple. An author (whether traditional or indie) would simply have a small donation of perhaps 1 cent per book go toward insurance, which would then be put into a legal fund. If the author were to get plagiarized, the fund would sue the devil out of the plagiarist.
Our goal would quite simply be to prosecute this crime to the fullest extent, providing a powerful deterrent to our next generation of criminals.
I hope to be writing more about the new fund in the near future, but for right now we have a lot of work to do setting up the nonprofit, putting together a board of directors, and setting up the internal machinery of how this will all be funded and run, so it will take a few weeks.
In the meantime, please help Rachel Ann Nunes. If she loses this case, we as writer will all lose. GoFundMe