Web stealing...

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New Member
Mar 17, 2009
I'm slightly worried, so I was wondering if I could have your opinions (please?).
I stumbled on this page today, http://www.jamesshuggins.com/h/hum1/gui ... r_cats.htm
If you've read 'The Unadulterated Cat', you should pretty quickly realise where most of this (at least 'Doors' through 'Cat Games') is from.
I've emailed the guy who runs the website in what I thought was a pretty reasonable way:

" Hi James,
Please note that I am not in any position to contact you on behalf of the copyright holder, and am slightly vague about the legality of it all, but I thought you might like to know that a large part of your page called 'Guidelines for Cats' (http://www.jamesshuggins.com/h/hum1/gui ... r_cats.htm) is copied, or possibly has been slightly altered, from a book called 'The Unadulterated Cat' by Terry Pratchett. I don't have the text in front of me, but I recognise from 'Doors' through to just before the paragraph 'Toys' as originating from this book, except the line entitled 'Bedtim'. This book is defiantly not in the public domain though, and I'm assuming that you found it on a website that didn't reference properly.

Sorry for the inconvenience of this. Terry Pratchett's agent can be contacted through his website that can be found here: http://www.colinsmythe.co.uk/

Thanks, "

(Sorry for wordiness, I'm trying to make a point :rolleyes: )

He hasn't emailed back yet, but I was wondering if you guys knew of anything I should be doing about it as I'm pretty vague on the legal issues surrounding it (apart from knowing that it's blatent stealing :twisted: )

Thanks if you've bothered reading this far anyway.


Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
Cardiff, Wales
Hi Kkcty and welcome. :laugh:

Well spotted - although I don't actually have a copy of Unadulterated Cat with me, so I can't check the wording.

I'd say your best bet was to pass the info on to Colin Smythe as (as you say) he is Terry's agent and should know about this. I'm pretty sure he's dealt with things like this before.

Honestly - you'd think people would check on these things before lifting them from the Web. :rolleyes:

Jan Van Quirm

Nov 7, 2008
Dunheved, Kernow
You did the right thing KKCTY and, to be fair to Mr. Huggins, he does have a disclaimer at the bottom of this webpage asking people to let him know if they discover any copyright infringements - in other words you've let him know that he needs to acknowledge his source.

Copyright citation for written material and images, particularly photographs on the web is really, really, really hard to nail and in fact most artists and writers will not bother with taking action, unless their material is fee-earning or being sold (on tee-shirts for instance) as the web author's or by the site owner

This leaves huge wriggle room for the unscrupulous to use material that isn't their's so long as they are not a) selling it without permission (so effectively theft as they're intentionally diverting potential income) or b) claiming it's their pwn work (more difficult but this can be construed as defamation - so if I said I painted 'The Scream' not Edvard Munch his estate could technically sue as I've lied and might then illegally claim revenue for its use... :eek: )

In this case Colin may decide not take any action because Mr. Huggins has not asserted that he wrote all of that article and has asked for anyone who knows who wrote certain elements to inform him so he can request permission.

This bit ~ "I didn't write all the stuff on this page. I got it, in part, from email and/or newsgroup postings. Efforts to identify a copyright holder were unsuccessful and it may be anonymous or in the public domain. If you have any information to the contrary, and particularly if you are the original author or copyright holder, please notify me.".
is enough to exonerate him of using others' words by accident effectively as he is not a) selling anything dependant on that text and b) acknowledges, however obliquely, that not all the material was written by him.

In other words there's no point in suing him for plagiarism (as he's not publishing it for commercial purposes, there would be little point in doing so) as there's no reason to since he has followed the conditions of what's known as 'fair use'.

One of the fan websites for Harry Potter fell foul of Ms Rowling's publishers last year when they wanted to publish a hard copy in paperback of their HP 'encyclopedia' which they'd compiled on her books - the publishers claimed that they had plagiarised on the basis of using JK's intellectual property as their source material.
The website countered by saying that no objecion had been raised to their publishing the same information on the web (on a free-membership forum board much like this one) and their book was merely based on Rowling's writings, which were now in the public domain. They also asserted that their contributors had their own copyright rights as she had not actually written any of the articles contained under the various entries...

I don't know what the outcome was, but that instance illustrates the problem that faces writers on or off the web, as it's getting very blurred as to what is stealing and what is not.
Then there's the ultra common practice of 'hotlinking' - I've had it done to me 'technically'! :eek: This picture -

which itself contains a disclaimer, as I used a photo I'd found in a google search to depict the forest (I'd manipulated it in Photoshop too, so I wasn't using it in its original format and if there had been a copyright issue had I been using it to make money then I was potentially in big trouble) but I added the sub-title acknowledging my source so I covered my back

I found out a few months ago that this pic was posted on a site in Czechia without my permission - although I posted it on a website that contained my personal info, so it wouldn't have been hard to attribute 'ownership' to me. If the guy was selling it as a postcard or whatever then I'd have been pretty upset, but as it is I'm actually quite flattered that someone liked it enough to put up on his board...
If he'd also used the URL from my own website (in other words hotlinking) I might not have been quite so chuffed as that could potentially cost me money even if he's not making any ;)

Moral of the story - always own up to material you want to use that isn't yours to use even if you can't find out who it belongs to. If you do know who it belongs to - ask them if they mind you using it, even if you're going to benefit financially from it in some way, as they may be prepared to license it... :)


Jul 28, 2008
Jan Van Quirm said:
I don't know what the outcome was
They lost, on the basis that too much of the text had been lifted directly from Ms Rowling's works (I think so anyway)


New Member
Mar 17, 2009
Thanks guys. Turns out the guy actually means what he says in his disclaimer and has gone on to email Colin Smythe - all that worrying for nothing :oops: .
Although I think the non-fee earning thing accounts only for if you use a small piece of someone's work and reference the original source according to the 'don't steal ideas' lecture I got in tutorial at uni.
Anyway, thanks for all your help :laugh:


Aug 12, 2008
swansea south wales
welcome to the site matey :) all that was quite interesting but where does it stand on fan-fic using character names and places. this isnt for me as i havent got an imagination just like reading other peoples stories :laugh:

Jan Van Quirm

Nov 7, 2008
Dunheved, Kernow
I think with fanfic you're reasonably safe (unless you're quoting directly from one of the books, in which case this should be made clear) provided it's done under your own name - so like in a post where your profile's identifable and in a place where its obviously not being plugged as anything but your own work in tribute to the work of the original author/artist.

Some authors don't like fanfiction or fan roleplay using their characters or books at all (I think Anne McCaffrey is/was one) but most don't mind as it is in a way a kind of free advert for their work - so long as it's not diverting revenue away from their own income and their publishers are generally the ones to stamp on it.

JK Rowling is in fact quite tolerant of fanfiction and roleplay - the encyclopedia people obviously went beyond their comfort zone... (thanks for the update Dotsie ;) )

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