Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Dana Girls and Copyright Infringement

Simon and Schuster had the listings for the three unauthorized Dana Girls books removed from Bonanzle last week. Simon and Schuster also had at least one vintage Dana Girls book removed as well. The person who requested the removal of the books mistakenly thought that a vintage book was unauthorized. This could pose a problem for all of us.

Bonanzle's customer service questioned the removal request for the vintage book, and Simon and Schuster's representative insisted that it was unauthorized as well. Bonanzle had to remove the book or else could have faced legal problems. This does not bode well. I have heard of situations like this one with regards to other items. It is often very difficult to get copyright attorneys to understand, and frequently, people have to go to court to prove that they are not in the wrong. Of course, I doubt any of us would go that far over the right to sell a vintage book.

This means that we could now encounter problems selling the vintage Dana Girls books that have the blue and red dust jackets. It was a vintage book with the blue and red dust jacket that was removed from Bonanzle. The title of the book was In the Shadow of the Tower. I thought it might be a good idea for a lesson about the vintage books and the unauthorized new ones.

Here are some pictures of the vintage Dana Girls books with blue and red dust jackets.

It should be noted that the first six titles were also issued with lavender and green dust jackets, which I did not photograph.

The titles that were printed with blue and red dust jackets are:

1. By the Light of the Study Lamp, 1934
2. The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage, 1934
3. In the Shadow of the Tower, 1934
4. A Three-Cornered Mystery, 1935
5. The Secret at the Hermitage, 1936
6. The Circle of Footprints, 1937
7. The Mystery of the Locked Room, 1938
8. The Clue in the Cobweb, 1939
9. The Secret at the Gatehouse, 1940
10. The Mysterious Fireplace, 1941
11. The Clue of the Rusty Key, 1942
12. The Portrait in the Sand, 1943
13. The Secret in the Old Well, 1944

None of these titles match the titles of the unauthorized books. Also, notice that the books have old copyright dates. I have never heard of illegal copies of the old Dana Girls books, so Simon and Schuster has absolutely no grounds in preventing the sale of any of these books.

The unauthorized books that have so far been published are:

The Mystery of the Cameo Curse, 2009
The Secret at the Windmill Estate, 2009
The Clue of the Buried Box, 2009

All three books are copyright 2009. Just by looking at the titles, it should be fairly easy to tell the difference. Here are images of the unauthorized books:

I hope that this does not become a continuing problem.


stratomiker said...

It's too bad this has happened and it's likely to continue. These copyright people are aggressive and can be nasty. It was a bold move for Cooperative Books to publish these new ones in the manner and style that they did.

It's cool that they look like the older ones, but it made it so obvious that, even blindfolded, copyright attorneys would find them. It shows how naive some people are about publishing and copyrights and the book business in general, that they'd think they could get away with it.

If they just HAD to put these titles out there, they should have masked them a little bit, not used the original artwork, and certainly not used the Carolyn Keene name. I fear that if they continue to put out more titles in the same fashion that they could get themselves into serious trouble.

Meanwhile, your original blue-and-reds are loveley!


Jack C said...

I too am more than a bit surprised that S&S can not tell the difference between a new book and one of their original titles. Do they not have a list and know what they are looking for? Do they not know the titles in their own original series? And if they don't know the basics of this series, and are that disinterested, why would they have a fit when the discontinued series is continued? It really does not make sense-

I for one have enjoyed the new titles, and to be honest, bought duplicates of each. Perhaps they will be worth something someday, huh? I can see it now, running down a dark alley, book under my arm,fleeing the S&S cops to make my big deal with a Dana Girls collector, who just has to have the book... Will I escape the mean old S&S men? Will the collector pay up? Sounds like a series book chapter ending to me...
Now back to reading Connie Blair, my current series of choice!! "Riddle in Red" Chapter Ten...

PS- Jennifer, now I want a complete set of those Turquoise Dana Girls- And where will I get them?

Jenn said...

S&S has every right to protect their materials. The person who did this, knew full well what they were doing and that it was wrong. Which is a huge shame. What goes around comes around in my opinion. No one here would like their work copied and sold without their permission. I certainly wouldn't. This was 100 percent wrong to begin with. As for S&S not knowing about the titles, there is probably confusing since this series has been out of print for many years and the legals in the department are probably trying to educate themselves to catch up. At least it was just 1 book removed and not all of them. The hassle that has ensued never would have happened in the first place if this person had just contacted them and licensed to do this in the first place the correct and proper way to do so.

Jack C said...


Agree with you in theory, however... If I can google Dana Girl titles, look at your website, and find the titles in a matter of minutes, what's wrong with the paid professionals? People are paid to do their research- True, the situation would not have happened if the books in question had not been published, but the lawyers should know what they are looking for. It's not that hard with the internet to find the titles in a book series and the years they were published. And if they are the titles of the series YOU own, no one should be harassed for selling a used copy of a legally published book by the copyright owners. LUDICROUS... Don't be so easy on the lawyers Jennifer. They are paid a whole lot more money than we are as teachers. If we screw up, it's front page news (and often times rightfully so). I have little patience with coporate ineptitude.
You know I highly respect you, but think you are being very easy on the powers to be.
They have every right to protect their copyright, but no right to tell a person selling a book published in the 1930's that they have to take the posting down. Agreed?

Jenn said...

Ummm..okaaaay. I wasn't giving them a pass, I was just making a suggestion as to part of the issue that is likely the problem--the unfamiliarity with the subject matter. The fact that 1 other book only got removed leads me to logically suspect that it was a simple error in trying to do the right thing. Not a huge deal, easily rectifiable. You can't expect perfection in life and you can't expect everyone to do as you would do. I can't speak for how they went about the process here, as I know nothing about it. But bottom line, regardless of all these other side issues which are irrelevant, the uncontrovertable fact is that the person who did this was 100 percent wrong and everything that happens in the wake of it is a direct result. That's all I have to say further on the matter.

Jennifer said...

Jack, I think you are confusing Jenn and I with each other. However, you might be responding to my original post rather than Jenn's response, so that is how I am going to approach this.

Privately, I told Jenna (the seller who had the book removed and who is neither me nor Jenn - three different people here who have very similar names) that the person who requested the removal is an idiot. I chose not to say that in my original post.

This is what I think happened, and I'm not being easy on anyone. The unauthorized books were the top results in a Bonanzle search for the Dana Girls, which is defaulted to relevancy. Do a Dana Girls search and see what the top result is right now. My book with the lavender and green dust jacket is the top result. I have a feeling that the removed vintage book with the blue and red dust jacket also was right there near the unauthorized books. The attorney saw the blue and red books and paid no attention to the titles. He requested the removal of them. I think it was a mistake to include the vintage book.

It infuriates me, by the way, and I am not the person who had the book removed. I have little patience for people who make brash decisions with no regard for details.

Where I have a problem is that when Bonanzle questioned the removal, the attorney refused to budge. That is why I wrote my post. Here is an excerpt of the message that Tom (Bonanzle customer service) sent Jenna:

"Based on the following correspondence, I was required to remove a Dana Girls book from your Bonanzle booth. If you take issue with this action, please address your concerns with the individual from CBS Law. I did challenge them on the removal of this item, as it did appear that it could be legitimate, but this is the response I received after my inquiry:

'We can confirm that the publication at the following link is not authorized and not the original publication available for re-sale. We re-iterate our demand that you remove the posting. Thank you.' "

The attorney refused to check the book that Tom knew was vintage. Confused, yes, but also hardheaded and unyielding. Copyright attorneys tend to act like this. You don't want to mess with copyright attorneys.

Jack C said...

You are right Jennifer- I wasn't paying close attention to the Jennifer/Jenn thread names, and thought that was you responding- I enjoyed the discussion with both of you, and also respect both of you!!
Now, where am I going to get those red and turquoise Dana Girls books from?
Do you ever wish there was a series book store in your town, filled with anything you want to buy?!?
Finished school today, so looking forward to a relaxing vacation filled with reading series books!!