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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bad Boys, Copyright Cops 911: New Series Coming to Fox

Okay, The Copyright Cops might not actually be a new show in Fox’s fall lineup. But reading all the controversy once again surrounding Stephenie Meyer, it got my imagination working. For those who don’t know, Ms. Meyer has been working on Midnight Sun, a retelling of Twilight from Edward’s point of view. (If you don’t know what Twilight is, might I suggest you lift the rock above you. Kidding. Sort of.)

Anyway, about 250 pages into the new novel, Ms. Meyer apparently sent the partial to some “trusted” people, one of whom leaked it on the Internet. As a result of this blatant copyright infringement, Meyer has decided to put Midnight Sun on hold “indefinitely.” She wrote a long message about it on her website and her subsequent feelings related to violating an author’s rights.

This got me thinking of A) Napster and Metallica; and B) a bunch of men in blue pulling up in black SUVs in front of a shack in some wooded location to kick in the door and find some pimple-faced guy seated at a computer with a copy of Midnight Sun in his lap. Of course, “Bad Boys” is playing the background.

Since I know the latter probably won’t happen (though it would be fun to see), let’s focus on the first. Has the publishing industry finally hit the point where novels run the risk of being illegally distributed on the Internet in a manner akin to Napster?

In one respect, that’s kind of awesome. Because it means fans, and in this case teenage fans, are so excited about reading that they would resort to illegal piracy just to get their hands on those precious words. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to have people eagerly anticipating my work in such a way, so in some regard it’s hard for me to relate to Ms. Meyer’s plight. Though as I writer, I can understand not wanting anyone to read my novel until I was ready for them to see it. Taking the money out of the equation (which in her case is considerable)—early drafts usually are not meant for public consumption. So it must suck for her to have one out there.

However… she’s STEPHENIE MEYER! After the year she’s had, didn’t she anticipate that this was a possibility? That if she sent a bunch of electronic copies out into the world, one might end up somewhere she might not approve of? She wrote one of the most anticipated novels of the year (Breaking Dawn). She’s been living in secrecy, protecting this saga, for five years. Part of me finds it very hard to believe she wouldn’t already have the necessary precautions in place.

Didn’t I read once that an actual person flew to J.K.Rowling’s home to physically bring the final Harry Potter to the publisher? (If I’m wrong, let me know. I sometimes am.)

But regardless, however the partial was leaked, I enjoyed it. I thought it was an interesting exercise to read the story from Edward’s point of view, and then go back and re-read those same scenes from Bella’s perspective. As a writer, it helped spark some ideas to further develop my own characters. And it offered a look into a character’s head that we never got to see before. I hope Ms. Meyer continues to tell the tale. Maybe if she takes a (much deserved) break from it, she’ll be encouraged to soldier on. After all, why punish the fans? It’s their overwhelming enthusiasm for her work that has gotten us to this point, and that’s an amazing accomplishment that deserves a farewell dose of Midnight Sun.

POP-CULTURE RANT: Sarah Palin

Wow, now that’s clever. I was at the gym when McCain announced his hot new female running mate, and the exact reaction of the guy next to me was, “He just double-downed on 16. McCain’s all-in now.” That about summed it up. Now, I don’t want to get all political, but Ms. Palin and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues (actually “any” issue might be a more accurate description). But she’s young, charming, charismatic, relatable and patriotic. Very clever, John McCain. Though I am a bit annoyed that The Daily Show stole my bit. Because my initial reaction to Palin was “is that Tina Fey?” Jon Stewart uttered the same sentiment on air that night. What can I say—great minds think alike. (BTW, did I mention that Tina Fey graduated from Upper Darby? A neighboring high school down the street from where I grew up—we played them in sports.)


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