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Oprah is being sued for $1 Trillon!

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Old 08-06-2009, 06:25 PM   #1
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Default Oprah is being sued for $1 Trillon!

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...s/6562882.html

I don't know if I've ever seen a suit for that kind of money!

It will be interesting to watch this play out if in fact this guy has a claim.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:42 PM   #2
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wow that's crazy!
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:54 PM   #3
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As a writer (albeit with only one short story published), I consider plagiarism serious business. One one hand, a trillion dollars seems exorbitant, but if as the article states, he's basing it on her profits he would have a strong case.

On one hand, a person could argue that the sales were based on her reputation, not the merit of his poetry (if she in fact had plagiarized from it), but I believe that in copyright law not only is the potential profit the true author would have received considered, but also the profit that the author accused of the plagiarism received.

So even if her lawyers can prove people did not buy the book because of the poem in question, she can't legally be allowed to profit from a book containing plagiarized work. There would also be potential punitive damages, justifying the size of the lawsuit.

Even if the plagiarism is determined to exist, but to be unintentional (she read his poems, forgot them and wrote her poems thinking them original), he'd still have grounds for the plagiarism case and claim to every dollar of profit the book earned Oprah now and in the future.

I'm not saying his claim is necessarily legitimate, and I didn't read whether he filed the lawsuit himself or an attorney is representing him. I would hope that if there's no merit to the case, that no attorney would touch it, but in this day of "no publicity is bad publicity" I wouldn't bet money on that.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:01 PM   #4
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Do you know what $1 Trillion could do for our economy if it was handed out equally to every US household? *sigh* Anyway, I have never even heard of the book the author is suing over, but if Oprah indeed plagiarize then I certainly think he deserves something, but $1 Trillion? riiighhhhht.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:14 PM   #5
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Do you know what $1 Trillion could do for our economy if it was handed out equally to every US household? *sigh* Anyway, I have never even heard of the book the author is suing over, but if Oprah indeed plagiarize then I certainly think he deserves something, but $1 Trillion? riiighhhhht.
The author is arguing that Oprah made a trillion dollars from the book. If that is true, then how much profit should she be allowed to keep from a book containing plagiarised material? I believe the current laws say none of it, and that it would go to the author(s) of the original work that was plagiarised (or the judge may have the discretion to award it to a third party for punitive damages such as the county or a charity or charities).

If indeed she did plagiarize AND if indeed she did make more than a trillion dollars in profit from the book's sale, then any judgement less than that rewards her for theft (whether or not it was intentional). That certainly doesn't seem fair. If partial profit is allowed, then it removes the disincentive for plagiarism. "If you get caught, you'll just have to share," doesn't seem a very reasonable resolution.

If she did in fact plagiarize, that he would legally be entitled to every bit of profit she earned so far and in the future from the book (or if she plagiarized from more than one author, then he and the other plagiarized authors would be entitled to split all of her profits).
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:16 PM   #6
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Hey Mare, hope your doing well. I never did hear back from you, so I hope all is alright. I didn't realize she was being sued, quite shocking, as with all writers at hand she could have easily had her own material written!
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:05 PM   #7
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I know I'm not necessarily the best at math, but 650 million copies X $20 does not equal over $1 trillion. It's more like 13 billion. So where does the other $987 billion come from?

Not only that, but the entire U.S. population is about 305 million, so that's like every man, woman, and child (and then some) in the U.S. buying Oprah's book..twice. None of it makes sense.

In any case, plagiarism is awful, and I can't help but notice the hypocrisy of someone who plagiarizes, yet gets all huffy when some guy lies that his memoir is actually fiction.

I never really liked Oprah, personally. :/
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:06 PM   #8
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Not that I rule anything out, but I suspect he's just some guy throwing it up on the wall to see if it sticks.
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:06 PM   #9
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And prove the sales...and I'll bet this will go to jury (if at all) and will be appealed if successful and the award will be reasonable and not a trillion dollars...

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Old 08-06-2009, 09:24 PM   #10
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Seems pretty wacky to me. Not only is there no way that book made $1 trillion in sales, Oprah herself is worth only (and I use the word only lightly) a couple billion.
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sakurasky View Post
I know I'm not necessarily the best at math, but 650 million copies X $20 does not equal over $1 trillion. It's more like 13 billion. So where does the other $987 billion come from?

In any case, plagiarism is awful, and I can't help but notice the hypocrisy of someone who plagiarizes, yet gets all huffy when some guy lies that his memoir is actually fiction.

I never really liked Oprah, personally. :/

The numbers could either be based on laws regarding the maximum calculated in comparison to sales (sometimes punitive damages have a set max such as 10 times or 100 times actual damages), or for projectected future sales based on current sales. Or he may be pulling a number out of the air, as a bargaining point for an out-of-court settlement.

I admit I didn't do the math at all, but regardless actual damages awarded (if any) are likely to be based on actual profits. I don't really see a judge or a jury pursuing the maximum damages, even if proven.

More likely (I would guess) is an out of court settlement, assuming there is any shred of evidence of plagiarism - which is going to be fairly straight forward. Either he has proof that his poetry was written prior to Oprah's or he doesn't, and Oprah's poetry is either going to strongly resemble the plaintiff's poetry or it won't.
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:21 PM   #12
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this is EXACTLY why I gave all my money away
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:24 PM   #13
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this is EXACTLY why I gave all my money away
So, does this mean I'm out of the will?
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:48 PM   #14
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Gary, if you leave me the shuffleboard trophy, I will make sure my sister fills it with as much as is left over after I kick the bucket. Deal? (Note to others - watch how his trophy grows to Stanley Cup proportions... )
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:03 PM   #15
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Yeah, the guy's an idiot because Oprah does not take in all of the money from every book sold. She doesn't get paid $20 a pop. Most of the money goes to the publisher. She did NOT make a trillion dollars on the sale of the book. If she did, she would be the richest person on the planet, and she's not. No one is worth a trillion dollars.

Considering this, I believe the guy is lying. Any legitimate writer knows that they don't pocket all of the proceeds from book sales. His book isn't even on Amazon, which probably means it's out of print.

If he's just suing her personally, and not her company or the publisher, then he's just doing it for publicity. People file lawsuits frivolously all of the time. It's frivolous and it will be thrown out of court. And this is coming from a writer.
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