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Nora Roberts' book cover (left) vs Tomi Adeyemi's book cover (right)
Nora Roberts' book cover (left) vs Tomi Adeyemi's book cover (right)

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What happens when someone copies your idea for a book title?

Author Tomi Adeyemi has accused bestselling author Nora Roberts of plagiarising a book title.

Adeyemi has accused Roberts of lifting the title of her new book, “Of Blood and Bone,” from Adeyemi’s fantasy novel “Children of Blood and Bone.”

They eventually settled on the fact that both of them came up with their titles in isolation.

Two or more people coming up with the same idea is not unusual. They are called simultaneous inventions.

Charles Darwin had been working on his theory of natural selection since the late 1830s, but was shocked when he received a manuscript from biologist Alfred Russel Wallace that  basically spelled out what he thought. Newton is known as the inventor of calculus, but Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who arrived at the same conclusion independently, published his work on the subject first. Also, Alexander Graham Bell, Elisha Gray and Antonio Meucci all invented prototypes of a talking telegraph.

Adeyemi retracted her accusation and wrote on Twitter

update: Nora was kind enough to reach out & explain that today was the first she’d heard of my book. After talking to her, I believe our titles were created in isolation.
I’m grateful she explained & I’ve apologized, but I wanted to address it here as I know others were upset too

— Tomi Adeyemi (@tomi_adeyemi) November 28, 2018

But Roberts was not pleased. She wrote a blog post one day after: “Recently another writer used her social media forums to baselessly, recklessly accuse me of stealing the title of her book…She had no facts, just her emotions, and threw this out there for her followers.”

Creators should note that while it is natural to experience anger after seeing their work appear elsewhere, and tempting to react by bringing down the offending party with a barrage of accusations on social media, Creators should take a deep breath and calm down and find out their options, including seeking out legal advice, before taking action.

Roberts also clearly has a better grasp of copyright law than Adeyemi. In the same blog post she wrote: “I titled this particular book, wrote this book, turned this book into my publisher nearly a year before her book–a first novel–was published. So unless I conquered the time/space continuum, my book was actually titled before hers. Regardless, you can’t copyright a title. And titles, like broad ideas, just float around in the creative clouds. It’s what’s inside that counts."

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Mark Laudi

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