Who’s Afraid Of Copyright?

Sorry, no Six Sentence Sunday again this week….I’ve just got so much I want to say! Lol

So where was i? oh yes…..I am, and probably more so after reading Debi Gilori’s story. I was alerted to it by Nicola Morgan on Facebook recently. If you have time, please go and read Debi’s story.

If not, I’ll try to give you the gist…..

Basically a publisher approached her asking her to do a children’s book about the Tobermory Cat. But, a guy who created a Facebook page for the cat, wasn’t happy about that, and she has subsequently become the victim of cyber bullying by what appears to be members of the Facebook group.

The cat is a stray, so not owned by anyone and a huge argument has ensued on who actually owns the copyright to The Tobermory Cat. The guy who set up the Facebook page is claiming that his “idea” has been stolen and is taking legal action (according to the Facebook page).

Nicola has recently blogged about this, Copyright, Words & Images so please do go and read it. It’s very important, that you, as a writer, or a blogger, know what you can and can’t do πŸ™‚

I just had to ask Nicola a question that’s been bugging me for a while, regarding all the workshops and classes I attend. Her response was interesting and I will be printing it all off and sticking it on my wall that’s for sure!

Do you worry about what you write on your blog sometimes?

ps – the photo above is not The Tobermory Cat, I wouldn’t dare! It’s my Treacle, who could quite easily be known as The Rochester Cat πŸ˜‰

43 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid Of Copyright?

  1. I’m not a lawyer, but as a techie I’ve had some training, and done a lot of reading, on copyright. You can’t copyright an idea. I haven’t finished reading Debi’s post yet, but if she wrote a book about this cat, she owns the copyright of the book, there’s absolutely no doubt about this. The author owns the copyright until such time that they assign it to someone else (unless it’s a work-for-hire, in which case the one who paid for it owns it).


  2. I keep what I consider my main projects off my blog. In terms of fiction, I only post what has already been rejected or I have no intention of submitting. For non-fiction, I post without worrying at all. Everything I put on my blog is about following my muse and in some cases serves as my method of documenting things I love in my life. πŸ™‚


  3. Yikes! Is a cat an idea though? I mean if I thought Pete the Cat was fun I couldn’t just write a book about him because he’s part of the Pete the Cat brand, but this cat you are talking about had no books written about him. Is a brand copyrightable? The cat could be a brand if it is on a Facebook page. I don’t know, just throwing ideas up. The word copyright scares me.


  4. Even if dude does own the copyright, I’m sure she could change a couple of small details and be fine. Write the book where the cat has three toes on it’s left hind paw and all of a sudden it’s an original idea. At least, that’s how it seems to work out in the States. Haha.


  5. Just to clear something up, the artist in question is (as far as I know) no longer taking legal action as he’s realised he was in the wrong.

    He posted the following on Facebook “May we close this thread please. I would rather like things to settled down… My understanding of what is and what is not acceptable is misguided. It has been extremely hurtful to Debi and she does not deserve it.”

    A real shame that all of this happened and I feel very sorry for Debi, but I’m glad so many people were so supportive of her.


    • Thank you so much Jim, for stopping by to give us an update, that’s very kind of you πŸ™‚

      I must admit, I haven’t visited the FB page since I originally looked.

      I totally agree, it’s an awful situation to have occurred, for both parties! But something I think we can all learn from….I know I for one have learnt a great deal πŸ™‚



  6. Something to think about and know. On my own blog,I usuallytry to stick to my writing but am very careful about images. So many changes,so many innocent mistakes,etc can be made that can cause a big problem.Thanks for sharing.


  7. Vicki, the entire world of social networking sets people up for this type of insane problem. It’s a problem to use images we lift off the net, but this sounds like an entirely different situation. And the poor cat became the “monkey” in the middle πŸ™‚


  8. Wow, interesting topic you got there Vikki. It got me confused at first, good thing I read all the comments in this post and was clarified. I agree to what journeyofjordannaeast said, changing some details of the book will make the idea of the cat original.

    Good thing that things are all settled now. As bloggers, we should try our best to make our posts original and factual ‘coz we don’t know who have been visiting and reading our blogs. πŸ™‚


  9. I don’t worry much about what I post on my blog. I’d say the only thing I really worry about is being too personal. I try to avoid posting some things about my family, which would be an invasion of their privacy. The same applies when I find myself too sad. There are some things better thought or wrote privately than posted on my blog for public viewing.


  10. Unlike some picture book stories, this one is based on a real (or is it several?) cat, so there is a curious blend of the β€˜real’ Tobermory, and traditional nursery rhymes. We have Tobermory Cat himself consorting with the cow who just might have jumped over the moon, and there is a dish and a spoon. Also, TC appears to play the fiddle.


  11. Let’s see….
    The cat is a stray, ergo it has no “owners” to say yes or no to the book.
    “Ideas” cannot be stolen or copyrighted, only the way those ideas are used.

    So, the guy with the Facebook page effectively owns the copyright to his Facebook page, and Ms. Gilori would own the copyright to her children’s book.
    No conflict.
    Now, if (as I’m reading elsewhere), the guy with the Facebook page had created pictures for the page, and suppose Ms. Gilori had gone and used those instead of creating any of her own, then he could say she had stolen the PICTURES. But unless that happened, I see no theft.

    In addition, the “idea” of the Tobermory Cat has, according to Wikipedia, been around since….1911?
    So if Ms. Gilori had stolen HIS ideas, then wouldn’t it follow that he had actually stolen the ideas of a certain Mr. Munro?

    Glad to know, though (thanks to Jim’s comments far above), that the matter has been cleared up and the guy figured out what he was doing wrong.


    • It did turn into a bit of a mess didn’t it 😦

      Yes, like you I’m so glad that it got sorted out, but also a shame that a writer had to go through what she did, when in effect, she did nothing wrong.

      Definitely a lesson to be learnt I think πŸ™‚



  12. Purely on the topic of creative rights and without naming any examples, you suggest things are clear cut, you cannot copyright a title or an idea. Does this defend and encourage creativity – or does this act as a defense for the lazy and less imaginative? Do you defend the taking of both the title and many of the ideas? You do not say how far down a line of ever increasing similarity before it becomes unacceptable. Imagine a large company adopts a brazen opportunist strategy which exploits this rule. They look for new works for the purpose of adapting that work into their new work. They produce the work in a slightly different form and using different words – except in the title. There comes a point where repeating this mantra makes little sense if you are defending creative rights.


  13. I do not think the translator of a work into Chinese would rightly claim that they created the original work. A translators work may be extremely skilful, it is not unheard of for a book to be improved in translation. They may not have directly copied a single word of phrase – just the idea or meaning of the words and phrases that make up the story. I do not think that translator would normally claim to be the creator of the work, but they may rightly wish to have the creative work of translation marked.


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