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February 20, 2011

Legal Filings
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:05 AM * 117 comments

Last December, Rod Marquardt (Keller’s Den, PublishAmerica, 2002), sued Stephen King (Duma Key, Scribner, 2008) and Simon & Schuster for plagiarism. King and S&S replied this past week:

Thanks to Victoria Strauss and circlexranch in this thread.

Comments on Legal Filings:
#1 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:33 AM:

Those Absolute Write links are member-only.

#2 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:42 AM:

I'll fix 'em in the morning.

#3 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:54 AM:

Profiles are private because we've had some problems with non-member web-stalking, over the years.

But here's the thread in question.

#4 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:56 AM:

Oops, that last link is to a specific post in the thread. Trying one more, here.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 01:27 AM:

The court filings are simple enough on their own. My, it's amazing what some people think copyright is!

#6 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 01:57 AM:

How about a story about a vampire who's a lawyer?

#7 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 03:51 AM:

They are obviously both plagiarizing from my story, "The Magic Man," which I wrote in fifth grade and had some kind of magic or other in it. Mom might still have it somewhere.

#8 ::: Scott W ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 06:47 AM:

I like that in writing “I was like a bird hypnotized by a snake,” King somehow plagarized/infringed upon Marquardt's: “controlled him like the talons of
an eagle wrapped around a harmless garter snake."

Unless the harmless garter snake is quite the charmer, those two bits have vastly different images and outcomes.

#9 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 07:29 AM:

Some of the similarities are hilarious. My favourite is that there is a John in one novel and four people named John in the other. Close second: in both novels, people express skepticism at the protagonist's claim of sinister supernatural forces!

I also enjoyed the memorandum to dismiss from King's lawyers, which was apparently written with input from the Simon & Schuster marketing team. "Duma Key is a 607-page thriller with a richly textured, multi-layered plot and complex, likeable characters."

#10 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:03 AM:

I think Gilbert and Sullivan have a case against Mr. Marquardt for copyright infringement of "Ruddigore".

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:17 AM:

Shouldn't Dashiell Hammett sue Akira Kurosawa?

#12 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:18 AM:

Keller's Den has John the Fire Marshall. The Picture of Dorian Gray has John the Priest.


What I particularly liked was King's lawyers' description of a PublishAmerica book as "self-published."

Long-time readers of Making Light will recall "Rowling's being sued for plagiarism again" and the colorful thread that followed. Particularly the grilled lobsters on the Australian beach.

#13 ::: Henning Makholm ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:43 AM:

I'm struck by how often in their memorandum King's lawyers succumb to the temptation to point out that Plaintiff's book is badly written while King's one is good. Surely that ought to be irrelevant for the legal purposes at hand? And it looks like their argument is plenty strong without reaching this.

#14 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:59 AM:

Henning #13

Yes, but recall that someone (perhaps one of the lawyers, perhaps a clerk, perhaps an intern) had to actually read Marquardt's book. It might have been that person's first-ever exposure to raw slush. I feel for him or her. And I can certainly understand, from that, the desire to say, "Oh, and by the way, this book sucks" or words to that effect. I can imagine choice bits being read aloud in the lunchroom or posted on the bulletin board.

Serge #11:

And Kurosawa could sue Sergio Leone, then they could team up to sue the Coen brothers.

#15 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:13 AM:

Did he get PA's "editors" to proofread his complaint? I'll skip the sentence which I fail to parse on page 1 as potential legalese that I just haven't had enough experience of to understand, and point out the typo in Stephen King's name at the bottom of page 2, the fact that "On or about April 2002" (paragraph 9, page 4) makes no sense ("on or about" is a very useful phrase, but should be used with a specific date, not an entire month), and the additional misspelling of Stephen King's name near the bottom of page 4, and so on. And that's as far as I've got...

#16 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:18 AM:

Reading the Absolute Write thread, I am gobsmacked that Stephanie Meyer was sued for plagiarism over Twilight. Then again, those books seem to spread a miasma that firmly sticks to folks who have read them, as proven by the phrase "the Twilight saga." Trust me, I've been there: it is impossible for a saga to take place in Forks, WA. In fact, I'm fairly sure that a voyage by longboat from Scandinavia to Washington State and back would retroactively lose saga status if it landed in Forks.

#17 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:20 AM:

And to think, I'm working on a paper arguing that copyright is becoming so strong that creativity itself is turning into an anti-commons...

(Not that this is a great example of it, except inasmuch as the suit was brought in the first place, which is what I'll use it for. The best example is the George Harrison "He's So Fine" suit, actually.)

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 09:39 AM:

James Mcdonald @ 40... I think Kurosawa actually tried to. He was much happier with John Sturges's authorized remake, so much so that he gave him ceremonial swords.

#19 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:03 AM:

Jim # 14: Snicker.

And of course, Zombie Shakespeare could sue EVERYBODY... Phhbbtt.

#20 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:09 AM:

Will #17: as per Spider Robinson's "Melancholy Elephants"?

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:22 AM:

David Harmon @19:

And there are a couple of Roman dramatists who would like to have a word with Mr Shakespeare...

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:25 AM:

In a way, it was amusing to watch George Lucas sue the makers of the original "Galactica" and of its contemporary "Buck Rogers". On the other hand, they were ripping off specific images from him, while he was stealing fom the whole field's traditions. (Which is what we do too when we write SF stories. Note that 'we' is the generic 'we', not me, as I couldn't write my way out of a paperbag. Okay. Maybe out of a very small paperbag.)

#23 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Props to the person who wrote the Memorandum of Law because it's actually a fun read. It is clear, straightforward, informative, and easy on the eyes. Am I allowed to say that?

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:35 AM:

If I write about a Fortress of Solitude, who will sue me? DC Comics, or Kenneth Robeson. Probably DC, since they now publish a Doc Savage comic-book.

#25 ::: Henning Makholm ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 11:20 AM:

James D. Macdonald #14: Sure I can understand the desire to call out a bad book for being bad. I'd just expected lawyers of the caliber Stephen King can afford, to resist it.

In fact, I'm more concerned about the parts where they point out how good King's novel is in comparison. It seems unlikely to help their case, and runs the risk of backfiring if the judge turns out to loathe it and then has to allow himself to be convinced by an argument from the premise that it has "a richly textured, multi-layered plot and complex, likeable characters" (memorandum, p. 14) and lets the "reader gain[] a deep understanding of the complexities of the three primary characters and their horrifying pasts, as well as insight into a panoply of human relationships" (p. 34), where "scenes build slowly and naturally and the dialogue is clever, believable, often humorous, and rife with pop culture references" (p. 36). That just seems misplaced when the case is not about which book is better, but whether one copied from the other.

#26 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 11:22 AM:

King's lawyers get a little slap-happy here: "Over the past thirty-five years, Stephen King has written countless best sellers..."

These are books, not hummingbirds or even a litter of kittens at ten in the evening. You can count them.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:01 PM:

abi #21:

I'm pretty certain that there were some Greek dramatists who might want to have a word with those Roman playwrights.

David Harmon #19:

Those shambling creatures from Antillean lands
Who, all undying, sought to eat thy brains?

#28 ::: Daphne B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 12:55 PM:

I was won over by the lawyers when I read the sentence "In sum, this Court should simply read the two works and compare them." I imagine the judge taking that advice and being all, like, "Okay, yeah, no comparison, case closed."

#29 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 01:54 PM:

pericat #26: Well, Wikipedia says he's up to 49 books, "including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, five non-fiction books, and nine collections of short stories." It does not comment on how many of the 49 were bestsellers. ;-)

#30 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 03:24 PM:

Dave @ 20: Not dissimilar.

#31 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 05:26 PM:

Henning Makholm@25: I think the bit about 'a richly textured, multi-layered plot' is actually relevant to the case; it means 'King's book contains lots of stuff that can't have been borrowed from Marquadt'. I agree it shouldn't matter whether the characters are likeable.

#32 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 07:29 PM:

Clearly, Duma Key was really written by Bill Ayres.

#33 ::: Bruce Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 07:39 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @ 16:

Let me tell a tale of youngling,
Isabella hight, from Phoenix.
Moved she to her father's fastness
north and west to Forks on ocean;
town of woods and beach on Left Coast.
Shy she was on first arriving,
then she met a boy named Edward,
dark and cryptic, so he seemed.
Love grew hot within young Bella,
Edward, though, avoided her.
Finally revealed his secret:
loving her as well her blood.
Edward, not a boy, at all now,
immortal, undead, wants a mortal,
can't decide to kiss or bite.

#34 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:15 PM:

The law covering derivative works is murky at best. This is on the outer edge, probably beyond the outer edge. But I would hope that it succeeds. Because then someone might do something about derivative works law.

#35 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 08:36 PM:

Bruce Cohen: Outstanding!

I've read summaries of Meyer's books, and out of curiosity did anyone else coming upon the section with the baseball game picture a woman wearing housewifely garb appropriate for 100 years ago in Chicago shouting from the sidelines "Edward! How often do I have to tell you--DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!"

#36 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Speaking of derivative work:

#37 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 12:58 AM:

Will, #17: I beg to differ. The best example (at least in the music industry) was John Fogarty's former label suing him for plagiarism because his solo work sounded (stylistically) like the stuff he wrote and performed with CCR. IOW, they sued him for continuing to sound like John Fogarty. IIRC, he did manage to get that one dismissed, but the mere fact of it being brought was ludicrous.

#38 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:13 AM:

Rob Thornton @ 23

I always thought it was interesting that when you talk to lawyers about what constitutes good legal writing, it should basically be written in such clear English that no unfavorable interpretations can be made.

Totally the opposite of public perception regarding "legalese," where the main point seems to be to obscure as much as possible with as much craft and guile as possible. Not that that doesn't happen too, just that it's interesting that it seems to be fairly commonly held to be NOT a best practice.

#39 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 05:27 AM:

Lee: My musical theory prof was one of the expert witnesses for that; his explanation of the trial was great (longish story of how it came up elided).

He brought in the analysis he did of Fogarty's style, and we took a look at it.

The case wasn't, quite, alleging that Fogarty plagiarised Fogarty, but that he, in "Old Man Down the Road" used musical themes which he no longer owned the rights to.

The real reason for the suit was the song, "Vanz Can't Dance" which was a dig at Saul Zaentz, whose label (Fantasy Records) owned the rights to Creedence Clearwater Revival's music.

Fantasy lost the suit.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 06:58 AM:

I seem to remember that some of Ravel's early stuff sounded like De Bussy's.

#41 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 09:14 AM:

Lee: Good point! I'll have to remember the Fogarty suit (I really need to do some writing on this...).

But Terry has already outlined the details of the suit, and frankly, that in and of itself wouldn't happen anymore because of the '76 Act...

#42 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 12:20 PM:

Possible good news for Rod is that the suit may result in more of his books being sold (or at least "distributed") than average for PA clients, if only as evidence or souvenirs.

#43 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:28 PM:

KayTei, #38: I submit that the two definitions here are not mutually exclusive. There are terms of art in law just as there are in any other field, and writing clearly and precisely so as to avoid any possible misinterpretation requires their use -- "plain English" is rife with common phrases that can be argued in more than one direction. But if you haven't learned those terms of art and what they mean, then it all looks very obscure and confusing.

#44 ::: Gareth Rees ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 02:39 PM:


It's Stephen King, what else would you expect? I fully expect to see a seven-volume epic series of briefs.

#45 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 03:01 PM:

Lee @ 43

Probably yes, in some cases. I just think the -- in my experience, fairly common -- lay perception that good lawyers engage in deliberate linguistic skullduggery is in interesting conflict with the way other lawyers evaluate skill.

At least in several of the discussions I've been in, it really is a passionately held truth that good lawyers will write legal documents to deliberately obscure their actual intent, rather than to make it plain. I just find it a really interesting dissonance.

#46 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 03:04 PM:

Is it me, or is the Memorandum of Law bit a fairly excellent example of a novel synopsis for submission?

#47 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 04:31 PM:

Terry #39:

I was disappointed when I looked into the details of the case and found that Fogerty (not Fogarty) wasn't sued for sounding like himself (which makes a great story), but for writing a song ("Old Man Down the Road") that plagiarised an older song ("Run Through the Jungle") that he no longer held the rights to. Fantasy Records lost because the two songs are really only similar in the sense that any two "swamp rock" songs are, that is, the similarities were not copyrightable. Fogerty won that case, but then took it to the Supreme Court when he was not awarded attorney's fees.

The "Zanz Kant Danz" matter was separate. Fogerty was so angry with Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records that he wrote lyrics that were a direct insult to Zaentz. When Zaentz threatened to sue for defamation, Fogerty changed the lyrics to "Vanz Kant Danz" which, not all that surprisingly, did little to deflect the defamation suit.

So there was a plagiarism suit, a right to recover legal fees suit, and a defamation suit all emanating from the one album.

#48 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 05:17 PM:

It's Stephen King, what else would you expect? I fully expect to see a seven-volume epic series of briefs.


#49 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 06:02 PM:

Will "scifantasy" Frank: That sort of suit isn't precluded by the copyright act of '76, given that Fantasy filed in '88. It's possible that the decision in Fogerty v. Fantasy 510 U.S. 517 (1994) might cause other labels to refrain, but it's not specifically because of the '76 law.

Chris Lawson: The thing is, at least as it's understood in the music biz, is that Zaentz wouldn't have filed the claim against Old Man Down the Road, if he wasn't pissed off at being called a pig and a thief. The defamation suit was settled, but Zaentz was (perhaps still is) furious about it.

There is a good writeup of the issue here. I can say that, despite the significant differences in the main body of the two songs, I am often not sure which one is starting when the opening riffs begin.

There was a question, in the early motions, which implies the claim was originally filed with implications that Fogerty's style was, ispo facto the property of Fantasy Records, with the concommitant implication that he was plagiarising himself. That was dismissed early, but one can make a case that Zaentz attempted to sue Fogarty for plagiarising Fogerty. Certainly my prof thought that had been the original intent.

#50 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 07:31 PM:

Gareth Rees @ 44:

If they try to make a movie out of the briefs the odds are they'll be pretty bad, unless they rewrite them1.

1. See <shudder>The Langoliers</shudder> for the bad example and Hearts in Atlantis for the good one.

#51 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 08:01 PM:


Dear me. To paraphrase something I'm pretty sure Ellen Kushner wrote, the complaint gave me even more pleasure than the author intended. Where to start?

Well, this snippet just rings my giggle bell:

Both main characters experience waking up from a bad dream and experience the following similarities:

In Keller’s Den, Martin hears thunder (page 46).
In Duma Key, Edgar’s heart was thundering (page 29).

In Keller’s Den, Martin encountered his fiancée, Janet, who had sharp teeth (page 46).
In Duma Key, Edgar experienced a frog that had sharp teeth (page 29).

As does this one:

Both novels use the following similar or identically named

Keller’s Den has Frank Keller (pages 31, 43) ancestry of
Duma Key has Frank O’Hara, the poet (page 146).
Keller’s Den has Keller (throughout).
Duma Key has Garrison Keilor, the poet (pages 146, 188).

Oh, my. I should send a thank-you note; a good gigglefit has made me feel considerably better.

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 50... "Langoliers" indeed was a disappointment. It needed a less pedestrian director, among other things. At least it featured David Morse, who also was in "Hearts in Atlantis".

#53 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:16 AM:

David Harmon @ 29: I initially read that as saying that Richard Bach was a pseudonym of Stephen King, and was trying tio get my head round the idea that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was intended as a horror novel.

#54 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:26 AM:

Praisegod Barebones @ 53

I had the same initial perception, only with the thought that THERE was a perfectly comprehensible reason to use a pseudonym to separate works by the same writer.

#55 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:37 AM:

Chris, #47: *winces* Dammit, I've been a CCR fan for 35 years. You'd think I'd get the name right.

OTOH, Fantasy Records lost because the two songs are really only similar in the sense that any two "swamp rock" songs are, that is, the similarities were not copyrightable sure sounds indistinguishable from "they sued him for continuing to sound like himself" to me.

Terry, #49: Odd, I don't find those opening riffs nearly as similar as the first couple of lines of the verse are -- so by the time the vocals start, I already know which one to expect.

[minor snark] Besides, "The Old Man Down the Road" has more than one chord in it! [/snark]

#56 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 01:44 AM:

Didn't Geffen Records once sue Neil Young for not sounding enough like himself?

#57 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 03:09 AM:

It's Stephen King, what else would you expect?

I expect there will be a limited edition, leather bound and housed in a velvet-lined tray case, gorgeously illustrated in full colour by someone whose work you love, signed by King, the illustrator, the cover artist, the writer of the foreword, the writer of the introduction, the judge, jury (all of them) all the lawyers and Rod Marquardt (only on the lettered state). It will be sold out before the first copy is printed and will win a prize for being the most collectible brief of the year.

#58 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 03:18 AM:

praisegod barebones @53: (and because I like typing your name)

...the idea that Jonathan Livingston Seagull was intended as a horror novel.
I tried to read it once. Now just seeing the title in print sends shivers down my spine and makes me sick to my stomach. Although I accept that wasn't the author's intent.

#59 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:25 AM:

Terry @ 49: What I meant was, the reason that Fantasy Records owned "Run Through the Jungle" was that prior to the '76 Act, copyright couldn't be subdivided and partially licensed. After '76, the record companies don't (or at least, don't have to) actually own the music fully, just certain rights.

#60 ::: Jon Marcus ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:00 AM:



Is there a Ron involved with the case, or is that a typo that should read "Rod's COMPLAINT..."?

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:25 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 53...

Coming soon, Hitchcock's "Jonathan Livignston, Seagull"!!!

#63 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:37 AM:

Serge@62: Coming soon, Hitchcock's "Jonathan Livignston, Seagull"!!!

"and the Other Birds"?

#64 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:49 AM:

David Wald@63: Robyn Hitchcock?

#65 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 11:55 AM:

Will Frank@59: The licensing of books for publication in certain geographic regions was standard practice under the old law, and remains standard practice under the new, and the copyright was not routinely assigned to the publishers either. So I'm either misunderstanding what you're saying, or it's somehow quite specific to recorded music. There is, I'm sure, no broad general prohibition against divided licensing of copyrights.

#66 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:05 PM:


I just want people to know that I keep misreading the title of this thread as "Legal Fillings" and thinking, alternately, donuts and dentistry.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled conversation :-)

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:08 PM:

Thena @ 66... donuts and dentistry

Is that a little-known Jane Austen?

#68 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:13 PM:

Thena @66 Legal Fillings

As opposed to illegal fillings? Now there's a horror novel ... Rogue Dentist

I, on the other hand, tend to keep misreading the thread title as Legal Flings, which suggest a whole different genre of bad books. Lawyer pr0n, it no doubt exists but I am not going looking for it.

#69 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 12:30 PM:

I just think about collecting up those legal filings, mixing them with iron and magnesium filings, and making thermite that will burn through any illegal lock....

#70 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 03:53 PM:

I hang out on Facebook a lot. I come here, and really miss having a "like" button. I don't want to comment, just cheer.

Tom @69, I'll help stir.

#71 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 04:52 PM:

I'm not sure I approve of sites which have a Facebook "like" button. If the graphic for the burron is on a Facebook-controlled server, they get your IP address, the time, and the HTTP-referer data, So you want to tell Facebook what you're doing?

#72 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 05:14 PM:

OtterB @ 68:

Help! I am Dr. Morris Goldpepper!

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 05:45 PM:

Dave Bell, I think Lin was saying that it would be nice to have a convenient way to just say "I approve of this message" without commenting oneself. It wouldn't have to be connected to Facebook at all (and if it were, I agree that would be bad).

I don't think Lin was even suggesting the implementation of such a thing here, just expressing the wish to say "you go" without saying anything further.

Lin, please correct and forgive if I've misdivined your intention.

#75 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 07:43 PM:

Nancy, 74: It's a lovely thought, but to my eye, that glyph is a breast. Which is a lovely thing, but not removed from context, as it were.

#76 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 07:55 PM:

And also, that glyph still requires commenting -- it's not something that just automatically accumulates on the post in question. I get what Lin is saying, because sometimes I feel the same way; it would be nice to have a "Like" button on ML (and LJ!) that would function in the same way that the one on FB does. But I don't think it can be practically accomplished.

#77 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 08:15 PM:

I dislike the idea.

#78 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:12 PM:

Bruce Cohen @72, I had to go look that up, but now I'm amused.

Actually, I was thinking of the villain in Dorothy Sayers' Whose Body?

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 09:47 PM:

Terry... I like the 'like' button. If nothing else, it gives the blogger a tangible sign that people are reading her/him.

#80 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:29 PM:

TexAnne was quicker to respond, and her phrasing of the sentiment I share is more elegant than mine would have been.
(o)@75, I guess. Take two! They're... umm...

a prudent person wouldn't hit "preview" or "post" at this point.

#81 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:32 PM:

Metafilter has a method which shows that a post has been marked 'favorite' by one or more people.

#82 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2011, 10:49 PM:

Favoriting a post isn't the same thing as liking it, at least not to me. I think we're just going to have to accept that this is ONE thing Facebook gets right, that's very hard to replicate elsewhere without turning into Facebook. And there's enough wrong with Facebook that I would not want to see any of my other online communities take that route.

#83 ::: DN ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:15 AM:

I mostly lurk, but I would be greatly disappointed in a 'like' button, too. It seems to me verbosity is a strength of ML.

#84 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:33 AM:

DN, 83: Well said! Please delurk more often.

#85 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 05:28 AM:

The problem is that, when these "like" buttons escape onto other websites, just loading that page passes your IP address and HTTP-referer info to the server that provides the button-graphic. I was checking some page-source, and Facebook "like" buttons seem to run a script to load the graphic--it looks a basic function call--and then execute the button when clicked.

On one site, it's maybe no big deal, but as they spread they start to develop correlations. My IP address may not be unique to me, which makes things fuzzy, but a fingerprint of web-usage develops over time, and that can feed into the advertising which appears on another page.

Yes, it might be better to see adverts which you have a more positive response to, but to do that, somebody has to track what you do. They have to snoop. And, because you don't know who they will be who act on the data, it's not crazy to worry.

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 06:59 AM:

TexAnne @ 75... that glyph is a breast

This might be interpreted not as 'like', but 'this post of yours is a bust'.

#87 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 07:38 AM:

Dave Bell and DN... Agreed. ML doesn't need a 'like' button. (Verbosity? What verbosity?) It'd be a nice feature for LJ, which I wish would also give us the option of singlethreading all responses.

#88 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 08:26 AM:

Serge @87, LJ does give the option of singlethreading all responses, it just doesn't have any UI for it. What you do is append ?view=flat to the end of the URL to the post in question. Here's an example:

It still divides the discussion up into 50 comments per page, which many people hate, but if you like singlethreaded comments, it's an option.

Re various comments about the Facebook Like button transmitting IP address information to Facebook: it does more than that, it's deliberately set up so that any time you "Like" a page or comment or whatever, the information is permanently recorded in your FB account. And accessible to all Facebook's advertisers and data aggregators and so on. Personally I don't really like the "Like" button concept, even if implemented in a non-nefarious way, but that's a different matter.

#89 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 09:14 AM:

Lin D@70, Xopher@73: Back in the 1970s, when Minneapa was a flourishing fannish Amateur Press Association with an issue appearing about every three weeks, we (and I think a number of other APAs that were heavily into mailing comments) would sometimes use the abbreviation "RAE,BNC" to respond to something that we wanted to show we had enjoyed, but which didn't move us to substantive comment (stands for "Read And Enjoyed, But No Comments"). (Pronounced "ray bink", and often verbed.)

I mention this not particularly to suggest it for this very different medium, but as a data point that a way of flagging interest that didn't rise to the level of a substantive response was found useful. Without it, sometimes the most thoughtful posts seemed to drop into a black hole. (Also, sometimes people quibbled about whether "Enjoyed" was the right concept; some moving posts are valuable but not fun.)

#90 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 09:23 AM:

I hang out on Ravelry a lot, where any post has a collection of buttons: educational, interesting, funny, agree, disagree, love. You can hit any or all of them.

I often find myself looking for the "agree" button on other fora these days, including Making Light. It's very handy for when you, well, agree with something but don't have a level of enthusiasm that absolutely requires its own post.

#91 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:03 AM:

Indivi-ewe-al @ 88...

Thanks for the tip!

Maybe it's just me, but LJ's tree structure is not conducive to lively conversations.

#92 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 10:35 AM:

individ-ewe-al@88: I have the opposite problem on LJ, some journals I look at are displayed flat (with no ?view= option in the URL). For me, this makes them completely impossible to follow (nobody quotes or references what they're responding to, so the responses are frequently incomprehensible). I haven't been able to find what controls this and how to fix it. Any clues?

(On ML it's hard to follow, but the custom of referring to the poster and post number makes it possible to go back and reconstruct the intended threading, so I can make sense of it.)

#93 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:18 AM:

Dave, #85: There seems to be some confusion here. We're not talking about those "Like us on Facebook!" buttons that are cropping up on other websites; we're talking about a Making Light-specific version of the link that lets you say you "like" someone's post on Facebook. We are definitely NOT talking about letting Facebook track our activity on ML -- that would be a massively bad idea.

Serge, #87: Interesting. I greatly prefer nested responses, but that's probably because of my Usenet background. And individ-ewe-al @88 explains why occasionally the nesting function seems to be broken, which I'd been taking as a glitch.

#94 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 11:20 AM:

Oh, I find popularity contests a little distressing...

#95 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:10 PM:

Xopher @73 - you have it exactly

Serge @79 - and that, too

Lee @93 - exactly

I often don't get to read threads until days after they've started and thread drift has set in. Making a comment three drifts and several dozen/hundred comments later is awkward seeming. So I lurk rather than post. Hence the gentle wish for some method of simply making note, without all the links/code/recording BS that FB puts on their "like" buttons, that I read and liked the post.

And possibly a "razzberry" for the punsters, to show appreciation.

#96 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:19 PM:

Lin D... If punsters get a razzberry as a sign of appreciation, I dare not think how utter disgust would be expressed.

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 12:31 PM:

Xopher @ 73... forgive if I've misdivined your intention

Now you've got me picturing you garbed like the Blue Rajah.

#98 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 01:53 PM:

I am not terribly fond of threaded comments (which comes of my usenet/bbs/apa days. I've also seen this debate hashed out a number of times (just on ML).

I can cope with the freewheeling need to keep up, and I find threading kills my ability to keep track. not least because it's a form of derailment. I have to go back and start over, and some threads are in parallel, so things I've read are being repeated.

I also find the use of breaks (as typepad does) terribly disconcerting. I am not a frequent commenter at Slacktivist because of the 50 comments and then a break way things are done. All of the comment threads feel as if they will never end.

Serge: there is an extension for firefox, "Lj tools" which allows all comments to be read as a single column. The drawbacks are that large numbers of comments take a long time to load, as well as making a comment (without opening it in a new tab) will collapse everything, and require re-opening the whole thread.

As to the idea of a "like", or a thumbs-up, or raebnc button, I am also of the opinion that it feels likely to have odd changes to the dynamics of comment.

ddb: Lj's threading/nesting function is weak, even when not defeated. I've been re-reading some of my older posts, and the ways in which temporality, or direct reply, change the placement of a comment can be very confusing; both as to what is being said/replied to, and to whom it is being said.

No system (save, perhaps, personal correspondence in private) is going to be perfect; some are just better than others, and we each have our quirks about what is, "plain".

#99 ::: CJColucci ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 03:09 PM:

How about a story about a vampire who's a lawyer?

Check out L.A. entertainment lawyer Bela Lugosi, Jr. Really.

#100 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 03:26 PM:

I dubious about the "like" button too, for the same reasons as KayTei #94 and Terry #98.

We already have people occasionally posting things like "praisegod barebones #53: snicker!" or "Serge #86 FTW", let alone the showers of "Happy Birthday", congratulation, or sympathy on appropriate occasions. This is part of the style around here, and I like it. Praise (and criticism) for comments becomes part of the ongoing conversation, with no meter hovering next to our nametag.

Also, I agree that threading == derailment. Not to mention, as it stands, we regularly cross sub-threads within an ongoing conversation, not to mention bundling replies to multiple threads into one message!

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2011, 03:45 PM:

ML's singlethreading makes the whole thing into a bunch of people holding a common conversation in one big room. Tree-threading is in the same bigg room, but people have congregated into distinct subgroups, each having its own conversation.

#102 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 12:33 AM:

Jim Macdonald @ 12: Clearly, Oscar Wilde plagiarised that name from John Heywood!

#103 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 07:32 AM:

#89 (Also, sometimes people quibbled about whether "Enjoyed" was the right concept; some moving posts are valuable but not fun.)

One of the recurring oddities of Facebook is a post describing some hideous personal calamity, replete with woe and suffering for its unfortunate author – followed by "Fred Bloggs and 23 other people like this." The rotters!

#104 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 09:23 AM:

Then you could say "Read and Commented, But No Enjoyment." (RACBNE)

And you can get the Mery Play Betwene Johan Johan the Husbande Tyb His Wyf and Syr Jhan the Preest here.

#105 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 09:39 AM:

Sometimes I write a comment here which I think is funny or clever and it sinks without a splash or a ripple. "Oh well", I says to myself, "I'm sure lots of people enjoyed it, it just didn't spark any particular response".

Sticking a "0 fluorosphericals liked your pathetic comment enough to be bothered clicking on this button" counter beside that comment would make me sad.

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 09:57 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 105... Good point.

#107 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 10:04 AM:

Serge @ 106: Great comment!

#108 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 10:07 AM:

Niall McAuley @ 107... I agree.

#109 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 10:30 AM:

Serge @ #96:

Surely you know that, when it comes to puns, utter disgust is a sign of appreciation.

#110 ::: John Fiala ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 10:50 AM:

Just make a 'Plortz' button. "I Plortz this." No one knows what Plortz means, but it'll indicate that you, in some way, were affected by the post.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 11:20 AM:

A 'shovel' icon would suggest that the reader digs the post.

#112 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 11:43 AM:

I tried to avoid picking on Facebook.

It was maybe a mistake to use "like", but it's one of a number of everyday words which are used in misleading ways. I can think of other examples such as "friend".

The point remains: as soon as an external graphic appears on a website, its supplier starts getting data about the users. It's a non-obvious consequence of how HTTP works.

#113 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 02:52 PM:

The Facebook "like" has the weakness that sometimes you mean that you are equally as horrified as the poster, not that you actually "like" what was mentioned.

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Paul A @ 109... utter disgust is a sign of appreciation

Like a cat dropping a dead mouse at your feet?

#115 ::: twif ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2011, 05:43 PM:

wow. i had to stop reading the plaintiff's complaint, due to the sheer ridiculousness of it. both books have people named joe? what are the odds? actually claiming infringement for using graffiti that is heart-shaped with initials in the heart? a claim like that takes balls. or a profound lack of intelligence.

#116 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2011, 09:10 PM:

The game is going into extra innings.

#117 ::: Amy ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2012, 07:02 PM:

From the longer Motion to Dismiss:

There are also deep differences in the dialogue, mood and pace between the two works. Keller’s Den rapidly shifts from mundane normalcy to demonic possession and acts of extreme evil and violence in a heart-beat. (See, e.g., chs. 26, 28.) The action draws on clichés of the genre (attacks by demons with glowing red eyes, exorcisms, the power of faith and the specter of a Rosemary’s Baby-like demon child). (See id. at 55, 172-74, 240.) The narrative and dialogue are often confused, and the narration switches from one character to the next. (See, e.g., id. chs. 8, 12, 19.)


That said, however, King's lawyers deserve to be sent back to their firm to rewrite their filings due to an obsessive overuse of the word "random" (and conjugations thereof), often incorrectly.

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