Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of normal blog post. I’m hoping to get back into doing that. (A set work schedule would help but it is what it is.)
Anyhow, what drew me into posting today is #cockygate.
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of it. I hadn’t either until Saturday when a friend shared a link to a petition on my timeline on Face Book and asked if I knew anything about it.
I didn’t, but then I’m not really tied into the writers’ community all that much, so I did some Googling.
Apparently there’s a romance writer named Faleena Hopkins who took out a trademark on the word “cocky” and is sending “cease and desist” letters to other authors who have that word in their book title – even if said book was published before hers were – and is reporting books with “Cocky” in the title to Amazon as copyright violations, apparently not realizing that a) there’s a difference between copyright and trademark, and b) you can’t copyright a title.
Amazon, of course, is taking the books down because that’s what they do (and what they should do!) when one is reported as a copyright violation, which is causing all kinds of problems for authors who have to prove that it is, in fact, not a copyright violation, and who are now having to pay for new/revised covers with a different title. (As if titling a book isn’t hard enough to begin with!)
So, anyhow, I tagged a bunch of writer friends that are more involved in things than I am, asking if they’d heard of this. Some had, some hadn’t, and the ones that had shed a ton of light on the subject. Through them I learned a lot, including that there is a discussion about it on Twitter using the above hashtag and also #byfaleena). And according to one of my friends, check out Courtney Milan on Twitter as she has the best summary of the mess.
Meanwhile, RWA (Romance Writers of America) is involved and has hired an Intellectual Property attorney to look into this and there may be a class action lawsuit.
And authors who have had to change their titles and book covers are being urged to keep a copy of what they paid and then sue Faleena Hopkins to recoup the costs. (I’m not sure if that’s part of the RWA thing or something different.)
And apparently one of the two trademarks she took out involves the font used for the word “cocky” on her book covers – but the artist who made the font apparently never gave permission for it to be trademarked.
I’ll admit that the legal stuff is confusing but it’s also interesting and I’m curious to see how this plays out, even though it doesn’t directly affect me.
Meanwhile, I signed the petition because what she’s doing is a total dick move.
(She was complaining that people were buying books with “cocky” in the title thinking they were hers and they weren’t so it was affecting her brand. Frankly, if your readers don’t recognize your name, no amount of trademarking in the world is gonna help your brand.)
Here are a couple links if you want to read more about it.
Meanwhile, please take a minute to sign the petition. Authors need all the help we can get – it’s tough enough out there without someone going out of their way to cause problems.