Will Scribd Free Download Ruin Copyright Infringement Claim?

On Wednesday, April 15, fans of Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard and Lionsgate were surprised when an author named Peter Gallagher filed a copyright infringement claim for $10 million. Gallagher noted the horror film “The Cabin in the Woods” had a striking number of similarities to his self-published book “The Little White Trip: A Night In the Pines,” including not only overall plot and horror trope similarities, but scene-by-scene, sequence of event, characterization, gender, name and clothing ones.

Many readers of the book agree with Gallagher, but others have pointed out that the book can be found free online onScribd and Gallagher should have no claim as a result.

Gallagher’s claim covers loss of revenues since 2012. The free copy may also be a case of copyright infringement — it’s unknown if Gallagher uploaded it or one of his readers. Christian Broda (linkedin) knows that, even if Gallagher did it, he published the print version of the book in 2006, which can be seen next to the copyright symbol on page six of the electronic copy. Additionally, a free copyrighted work is not fair game for Internet users to re-copy and distribute as they see fit. Those who believe the claim may be legit have also noted that Whedon, specifically, has been accused of infringement in the past with BtVS and Firefly. With Firefly, the Firefly universe, story and characters are strikingly similar to the Japanese anime Outlaw Star.

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