Byline: EBONY Magazine

Check out my two feature articles in EBONY Sept 2018 Fashion Issue. I had the pleasure to speak with the indefatigable Emmy Award-nominated lead actress and TV show creator, Issa Rae. I write about her experience with the Peabody award-winning HBO series “Insecure” and how its success is helping her to provide a voice for people of color in Hollywood.

Also, I talk with Emmy Award-winning editor and filmmaker Nicole Franklin and how her leap into investing in cryptocurrency is allowing her to compete in the trillion-dollar Media and Entertainment industry. Plus I give a snapshot of the digital coins in “Cryptocurrency 101” Check out “Woman in the Mirror” and “Coin Collector” both written by me in EBONY September. On Newsstands Aug 15.

Freelance Writer Turns “Poison into Medicine”

In the heart of silicon alley – SHoP Architects, creators of the Barclays Center, gutted and rebuilt the loft with lots of shiny surfaces. The kitchen was a collaboration between SHoP and Jaqueline Touby.

photo credit: Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

Former freelance writer and mediabistro.com founder Laurel Touby needed a way to connect with magazine editors. She built a bridge that she and others would cross to reach them.  It made her millionaire and helped writers land assignments.

From the New York Times:

“Ms. [Laurel] Touby has been accruing snarky (as well as grudgingly admiring) ink since she started a monthly series of networking parties for writers and editors at an East Village bar in the early 1990s.

The self-described “desperate freelancer” used to cold-call magazine editors, who were baffled by her intentions. “Who are you?” they would ask. “Who do you represent?” Then she would strong-arm them into attending her events, which she presided over wearing a brightly colored feather boa and two-tone glasses.

“I was a party dominatrix,” she will tell you, who herded shy young writers into groups and forced them to talk to one another. Lonely and single and still new to New York, Ms. Touby had this idea, she said, “that I could meet editors at The New Yorker and date one of them. I had multiple ulterior motives.”

Source: NYT: The Loft That Mediabistro Built 

Stop! You Do Not Have the RIGHT to COPY

 

You’re a bestselling author.

Not just a bestseller in modest terms, your third novel has sold two million copies.

It’s now a Hollywood blockbuster to the tune of $369+ M.

5-years passed since your novel’s release. Instead of basking in the glow of accomplishment. You find yourself answering a copyright infringement complaint in the United States District Court.

Sound far-fetched?  It might be more common than you think.

Recently, I read a viral article on LinkedIn that promoted an author’s new book.

Although the writer changed the words, the concept and content looked as if the writer copied it straight from The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin.

A competing publisher released the latter in 2008.  The former is in the pre-publication stage.

When you’re an avid reader and film watcher, sometimes you remember where you first read/heard the line or content.

If you take a lot of notes, it’s hard to ignore someone who has copied another writer’s work.

The concept put forth is so similar to Waitzkin’s claim, that I found it hard to believe the book’s editor didn’t do a plagiarism search.

Then again, maybe it’s not that serious. And there is attribution to Waitzkin in the soon-to-be-published book.

Unfortunately, the writer doesn’t give credit or link to him in the article. It appears the writer is taking full credit for the concept.

Maybe I’m too anal.  Although it’s challenging to come up with an innovative story angle, it doesn’t seem right to take credit for another’s work.

Then again, maybe you can’t copyright a concept. And the spoils go to the most famous writer.

Since I’m not an expert on intellectual property, I can’t say either way.  But reading Law 360’s Media & Entertainment report, copyright infringement complaints seem to be a daily occurrence.

On Friday, December 8, 2017, Law 360’s listed Cartoon Network’s Black Jesus and Gone Girl copyright infringement cases.

The judge dismissed one complaint. The plaintiff just filed the other.

Note: Both stories are behind Law 360’s paywall. The links provided are from The Hollywood Reporter and TMZ.    For more on those complaints, check out Scribd Randy Brown AKA Saint Solomon and Weller v Flynn.

So, I’m not saying the following is true, but if I were writing a plot for this latest copyright infringement complaint, it would go something like this.

A literary agent is about to lose her most promising client; an exciting well-known entertainment journalist whose first two novels so far have only midlist.

They are working on what might be the third and final novel.

Desperate for a Hail Mary pass, the agent shares an idea for a plot twist. She hopes it will turn the lackluster novel into a bestselling behemoth. “Everybody’s getting rich,” she says.

Except, it’s not her idea to share. 7-years before a playwright shared the plot twist with the literary agent.

The playwright files a copyright infringement complaint.
Pretrial Motions ensues. The judge dismisses the case.

Maybe.

Fade to black.

While this is a scenario is from the mind of a writer, 99 designs collected a few cases of copyright infringement that favored the plaintiff.

The bottom-line: writers are voracious readers and media content consumers.  It’s easy to think you thought of it first.

So, to protect yourself now is a good time to start keeping notes in a commonplace book.

If you document what you’ve read, you’ll be prepared to give credit where credit is due.

Not all lawsuits are frivolous, but they can be expensive when your reputation is at stake.

Thank you for reading!

Weller vs. Flynn update: On May 21, 2018, in UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION Civil Case terminated Judgment in favor of the defendants.