May 27, 2021– This question comes up more often than you think! Authors want to know if they can re-write very old books using different words and settings and then publish it or submit it for publication. The answer is NO!
NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. Do not do this. Copyright law explicitly states that the copyright on a work stays with the author/her successors until 70 years AFTER her death. Yeah, but what if the author has been dead for 100 years? I would urge you to be original and have some decency to not pass someone else’s work off as your own no matter how much you think you’ve changed it. How would you feel if someone ripped off your work that you spent your life crafting? Pretty crappy no doubt.
There’s a difference between retelling and stealing, a big one. Feel free to use books that you enjoy as inspiration to find a different take on a situation, plotline, or characters. A great example is our very own Tamara Botting’s retelling of the fairytale the frog price told as Unfrogged available here: Unfrogged – Pandamonium Publishing House. It’s a fresh take on the story with interesting characters, a dazzling setting, and unique challenges.
Plagiarism and copyright infringement have no place anywhere to be honest, but especially in the creative arts. Artists spend their lives bringing art, stories, music, movies, and productions to the world, why would anyone want to destroy that or take credit for something they didn’t do?
Here’s an interesting article on five very famous copyright infringements and their outcomes: 5 famous copyright infringement cases (what you can learn) (99designs.ca)
If you have even one iota of a feeling that what you’re doing could be considered stealing from an artist, stop and start over. Make your own art and give credit where credit is most certainly due.
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