Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Drama in the Omegaverse

So, with Addison Cain's blog exploding all over Romancelandia social media in the wake of #copypastecris, it's not surprising that questions arose as to the validity of her claim of plagiarism, since her blog doesn't go into detail proving it. I'm not a lawyer, I kind of assume she can't discuss all the legal stuff openly. I also am not super familiar with the law when it comes to copyright of a storyline (although I know it's possible, even if harder to prove than when someone lifts lines directly), but I am an author and I have an English degree (ought to be good for something, right?), and, more importantly, I'm Addison's friend. And while I need to be working on my own book (which is due to the editor Monday) and spending time with my baby (only 5 months old) or sleeping because I'm currently working a day job as well (with overtime at the moment), I decided to take the time to re-read Born to be Bound as well as the Zoey Ellis book in question, Crave to Conquor. Because Addison deserves it and also because HOLY CRAP THIS IS A BIG DEAL if plagiarists can turn around and drain authors dry with nuisance lawsuits.

I haven't told Addison I'm doing this, by the way, this is all on me.

I've personally experience Addison helping me, supporting me, sharing my work, and encouraging me to write in the Omegaverse (<--click for guide if you have no idea what I'm talking about). I was reading her LONG before I 'met' her on Facebook and as far as I know, she really was the first person to write MF Omegaverse. That's how I found her books actually.

Since then, more authors have entered the MF Omegaverse and she has promoted them with genuine excitement that more people wanted to do MFO. One thing that I keep hearing over and over from the group of Indie Authors that I've gotten to know is that we all need to support each other. We can't write as fast as readers read, so having recommendations of similar work is GREAT for the in between times. Addison has embodied that. I don't know of a single author who DOESN'T feel like they can go to her at any time with a question or appeal for advice or to ask if they can post their newest release in her group. Just recently,  I saw MD Pentacles post her most recent MF Omegaverse release in Addion's group.


I couldn't fit Addison's response to this post in one screen capture, so here it is -

Now how is this important to what's going on? Well, partly I'm defending Addison's honor, because she's seriously so supportive of people writing MF Omegaverse. She even promoted Zoey Ellis' work when she was asked - she didn't give it a personal recommendation but she did let her readers know that someone else had written an MFO book if they wanted to check it out (we indie authors cross promote often, but there are a lot of authors who won't, esp if they haven't read the author in question before, but it doesn't surprise me to know that Addison was all about helping out a newbie author who was writing in her genre... it's just the way she is). It was those readers who let HER know, "hey... so there's a lot of glaring similarities between your books."

Claims being made that Addison is doing this out of competitiveness or comparisons of her to Faleena Hopkins really grind my gears because that's SO NOT ADDISON. She's deeply embedded in the indie community (unlike FH), never has a bad word to say about anyone, and has actually been SILENT while all of this has been going on for over a year because she didn't want to bring other people into drama.

So, moving on, let's get to those similarities, because they're what's at the heart of people questioning her validity.

Now, being that they're both writing in the Omegaverse, we can set aside similiarities like the class structure (Alphas on top with Omegas for mates and Betas somewhere in the middle), the "knotting", the estreus / heat / haze, and the idea that there's one Alpha to rule them all. That's all part and parcel of the Omegaverse.

That both heroines have similar names - whatever. Not a big deal. This happens all the time.

That both heroines are virgins - also not a big deal, we romance authors love deflowering virgins.

That both heroines are undercover using unnatural means to hide their true identity as omegas. Mmmm... okay. Shaky ground here. It's possible to write two totally different stories using that same premise.

That both heroines are kept in one room, day in and day out, never seeing anyone but their alpha, eeeeeeeh, okay. Shaky ground here again. But it's possible to write two totally different stories using that same premise.

But let's getting into the full plots.

The beginnings of the books are very different. Ellis sets up a fascinating world within the Omegaverse, full of magic and a sassy historian. It's easy to feel like this world and book has NOTHING to do with Addison's, right up until 32% of the way in when Cailyn is in the middle of an audience with Emporer Drocco, in a crowded room, and suddenly her suppression of her omega nature begins to fail.

This is also where the similiarites begin.<<<EDIT: I want to be very clear here, it's not just that these things are in both books, this is what happens in both books, scene after scene, beat following beat with only a few differences between the plot structure. I've read a lot of books that have the same tropes, ideas, whatever... but they didn't follow each other's outlines like this>>>

Addison's book begins with Claire entering a crowded audience chamber when her suppression of her omega nature begins to fail.

Drocco takes notice and takes Cailyn from the room before anyone else notices. Shepherd kills some of the men and then traps Claire in the room.

Both heroines fight against their need before the sextravaganza starts. In Addion's book, the characters fuck, in Ellis', Cailyn manages to erect a barrier to keep them apart, so they end up having self-pleasured sextravaganzas.

When Claire wakes up, Shepherd questions her about the Omegas and then fucks her. When Cailyn wakes up, Drocco fucks her and then questions her about the Omega. Both heroines accuse the Alpha of rape.

In both books, the next part is a sextravaganza that lasts for days, interspersed with occasional questions about the Omegas. The biggest different in how the heroines are treated - Drocco always eats with Cailyn, Shepherd never eats with Claire.

Next up - both alphas then demand that their omega share her personal history. Both omegas blame Alphas aggressive, terrible ways for why the omegas don't want anything to do with them. Biggest difference in the questioning - Drocco threatens sodomy to force Cailyn's reveal, Claire shares hers more willingly as a way of throwing her revulsion for all Alphas in Shepherd's face.

Obviously both heroines are upset after this talk and depression starts to seep in.

Things then veer away from each other for a bit as Addison's book takes a side plot meander that Ellis' doesn't.

During this time, both alphas punish their omega by denying her 'knotting' (which gives the best completion) and realize that it's not the best form of discipline for them. Drocco holds out longer than Shepherd, who only attempts it once before making that decision, whereas Drocco is explicity told by an advisor that doing so is detrimental to building a relationship between them.

There are some other similarities within the books, but none quite so obviously beat for beat until closer to the end of Crave to Conquor, which has beats lining up pretty closely with Born to be Bound again.

Claire manages to escape and so does Cailyn under vastly different circumstances. That's cool.

They both then deal with betrayals by their omega allies. One omega in particular has decided that they need Shephered and so leads the others in betraying Claire. One omega in particular insists that Cailyn go back to Drocco (this was odd to me since her reasoning was that Drocco had to be Cailyn's true mate, but the other omegas didn't add their immediate support). Claire is knocked out and returned to Shepherd. Cailyn is returned to Drocco's city without her memories and then knocked out as the book ends.

I'm not going on to read book 2.

Like I said, I'm not a lawyer. I have no idea if this much would satisfy the legal definition of plagiarism. I DO know that Addison's publisher felt confident enough to file DMCAs on her behalf. I DO know that these are an awful lot of coincidences and I'm not at all surprised that many readers contacted Addison after she was nice enough to recommend Ellis' book and they went and read it.

I do have a couple of questions.

Like - why Ellis filed her legal suit in a jurisdiction that had no jurisdiction?

Why is Ellis claiming that she was harassed / defamed in her lawsuit when Addison has literally said absolutely NOTHING about it for over a year and Ellis did not have any evidence submitted to back up this claim?

According to the court document posted by Courtney Milan, Blushing Books publisher has only EVER filed two DMCA take down notices (page 12, item 34)... to me, this is pretty significant. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I'm not the one who told them they have a case either.

A good friend tells their friend when they think they're in the wrong. After having spent my day doing a comparison of Addison's book vs. Ellis', while I think Ellis put in a lot of things to try to make it different enough from Addison's, she also copied a whooooole lot. I guess it will be up to the court to decide, but after doing my homework, I know I don't feel the need to tell Addison that I think she's wrong to keep up this fight.


UPDATE - a reader / reviewer / blogger, In Between the Pages, has done a breakdown of the events that have been happening around the lawsuit suing Addison, as well as the misinformation that has become widespread. 

I'll be doing another blogpost soon as well that is more thorough than this one (which I rushed just because I felt it was important to get some of the information out there)

25 comments :

  1. Clearly none of you have been around fandom or read any kind of alpha/beta/omega verse fanfiction. My friends and I were writing male/female omegaverse back on Tumblr when it first became popular in the Supernatural fandom, back in, oh, 2010, 2011? You guys are hardly the first to use these tropes even if they seem novel to you. I'm glad you guys are enjoying it, but it's a bit wrong to think that Addison Cain invented it.

    Let's go into some of the points you raised:

    "That both heroines are undercover using unnatural means to hide their true identity as omegas. Mmmm... okay. Shaky ground here. It's possible to write two totally different stories using that same premise."

    The idea of omegas hiding their nature (through spells or suppressants or what have you) can be found in a lot of fanfiction, going back years. This is pretty much a trope at this point.


    "That both heroines are kept in one room, day in and day out, never seeing anyone but their alpha, eeeeeeeh, okay. Shaky ground here again. But it's possible to write two totally different stories using that same premise."

    Women being kept prisoner by their owner/husband/master is trope, this is like saying that any Rapunzel inspired story is plagiarizing the others if a woman is locked in a tower.

    " It's easy to feel like this world and book has NOTHING to do with Addison's, right up until 32% of the way in "

    Honestly this is just ridiculous, this is like saying that all vampire books are plagiarizing each other because they're similar. If a whole third is different in two genre books, that's an entirely different book.

    At this point I'm not even going to bother going through the rest of it, because these are the same tropes I've seen time and again in fanfiction. Maybe you should do some reading first before you cry plagiarism on tropes.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. How about using your name when replying, if you were truly writing this stuff back in 2010 you'd be happy to tell everyone who you are.
      Yes tropes have been around for a very long time, so has plagirism.
      When readers are the ones who bring something to a writers attention it means that the similarities are glaringly obvious. It spoils reades enjoyment of books when this happens.
      And to call out someone who A) has published quite a few books and B) promotes works of authors she has read tells me that you are only here to be negative and your real aganda is to try and discredit Golden.
      And just in case you think I'm here on anyone's behest I'm not. I've read everyone of Golden's books and follow her on FB. I don't know her personally

      Delete
    2. How about using your name when replying, if you were truly writing this stuff back in 2010 you'd be happy to tell everyone who you are.
      Yes tropes have been around for a very long time, so has plagirism.
      When readers are the ones who bring something to a writers attention it means that the similarities are glaringly obvious. It spoils reades enjoyment of books when this happens.
      And to call out someone who A) has published quite a few books and B) promotes works of authors she has read tells me that you are only here to be negative and your real aganda is to try and discredit Golden.
      And just in case you think I'm here on anyone's behest I'm not. I've read everyone of Golden's books and follow her on FB. I don't know her personally

      Delete
    3. How about using your name when replying, if you were truly writing this stuff back in 2010 you'd be happy to tell everyone who you are.
      Yes tropes have been around for a very long time, so has plagirism.
      When readers are the ones who bring something to a writers attention it means that the similarities are glaringly obvious. It spoils reades enjoyment of books when this happens.
      And to call out someone who A) has published quite a few books and B) promotes works of authors she has read tells me that you are only here to be negative and your real aganda is to try and discredit Golden.
      And just in case you think I'm here on anyone's behest I'm not. I've read everyone of Golden's books and follow her on FB. I don't know her personally

      Delete
    4. Hi, thanks for your anonymous comment - here's the thing: tropes are fine. Using the same tropes are fine. I do it. Other authors do it. We all do it.

      Copying another author's outline and using their beats... not fine. It's harder to prove yes, but I think Addison has a case here and I go through why. Having the scenes line up so perfectly, one after the other, is NOT usual.

      When I have more time, I'll do another blog post covering that, but right now I have to finish writing my own book. Hopefully I'll have time next week.

      Delete
    5. Hi, this is a different Anon and I won't use my blogger ID specifically because Omegaverse is supposed to be a niche m/m fandom thing that you enjoy in secret - for good reason.

      I got here because I just found out via twitter that my favorite fandom genre since the J2 days went "mainstream" in a complaint/court document. Details of Omegaverse history and whatnot got written down in that statement and I think that was a gargantuan mistake.

      Omegaverse is a public sandbox. No one can lay claim to it. Even if you were the first to commercially publish a subgenre of it, you have no legal rights on the idea because it is not your copyright. Detailing it in the statement as proof of plagiarism only hurts your case because it's easy to disprove. This applies to both Cain and Ellis by the way, since both of them (or their publishers) filed complaints against each other.

      Second, having similar or even the exact same tropes and outlines is still not plagiarism. The court will take account the possibility of both of them having the same idea at different times. Moreover, the basic outline you gave us of the "plagiarized" content is a classic omegaverse trope. All the defendant would need to do is show proof that it exists (and it does) in other unaffiliated works that date earlier than the complainant's work.

      The only way you could prove that your work was plagiarized is if you find lines fully lifted from your work onto the other OR if you can prove that you were the absolute original founder of that genre. Otherwise you're fighting a lost case from the get-go.

      If anything, the only complaint your friend Cain can fight is the harassment claims. She can demand damages for being wrongfully accused of libel/slander depending on your laws. The DMCA abuse claims I fear will take more root because her publisher fighting for a copyright she does not truly own in the first place is legitimate DMCA abuse.

      Legalities aside, I'll admit I'm upset that this is how Omegaverse breaks into the real world - through straight(?) authors who claim to own a part of a public sandbox that was made specifically for gay content. But that's a personal sentiment. People can write and publish what they want - and that's the root of this situation, now isn't it?

      Delete
    6. I agree with the above anon. Certainly using similar outlines and tropes could be easily disproved in court. But in Cain's facebook, the author delved into more specific examples for comparison between their books, so maybe the case of plagiarism wouldn't be discounted entirely.

      Though if it's simply a matter of one author following too closely to the beats and storyline of another author, then Omegaverse tropes shouldn't be brought up at all. It doesn't matter if it's m/m or m/f. Addison Cain isn't the pioneer for heterosexual Omegaverse fiction. In fact, even if someone were to publish a book with the same tropes featuring intersexual or non-binary characters (which I've yet to find one in Goodreads), they still wouldn't be 'the first' to explore that idea. I can guarantee you there are hundreds of stories within those premises in the MCU fandom alone.

      Delete
    7. Hi! Thank you for your comments - I am going to be doing a more thorough breakdown of what's going on soon.

      In the meantime, I hope you can be reassured that the lawsuit absolutely does NOT assert that others should not write in the Omegaverse and Addison has continuously said that she 'thinks' she was the first to write MF Omegaverse and that 'as far as she knows' she was the first. One joke that she made where she didn't add her usual disclaimer was screenshotted and completely blown out of proportion.

      As for the other MF Omegaverse stories, if you could point me in the direction for researching my next blog post, I would appreciate it! I pretty much read exclusively Literotica.com and books, so otherwise my first place to look is through google, but I'd prefer to start where the readers are.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment!

      Delete
  2. Oh dear, google seems to have gone haywire and published my reply 3 times, oh well I stand by what I said

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  3. Calling someone out to use their real name is only an attempt to point people in the direction of a dogpile/attempted harassment. (I am not the same anon, by the way.)

    None of you started the A/B/O trend, certainly none of you own any claim to it, and I can guarantee there are a thousand or more fanfics with those exact same plots all over AO3, geez. Grow up. You can plagiarize an idea you didn't even come up with.

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    1. *can't Because obviously, you sure didn't come up with it.

      Delete
    2. Hi! You are very right that sometimes revealing one's real name can lead to harrassment - on the other hand, sometimes one person poses as multiple people posting anonymously (as you obviously know since you made sure to indicate that you're a diff anon). So there are downsides to both things.

      I don't believe I ever made such a claim. I've also consistenly seen Addison say that she "thinks" she was the first to write MF Omegaverse or that 'as far as she knows' she was the first to write MF Omegaverse. One joke that she made where she didn't add her usual disclaimer was screenshotted and completely blown out of proportion.

      As for the other MF Omegaverse stories, if you could point me in the direction for researching my next blog post, I would appreciate it! I pretty much read exclusively Literotica.com and books, so otherwise my first place to look is through google, but I'd prefer to start where the readers are.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment!

      Delete
  4. I'm just pointing out here that Addison wasn't the first author to write F/M omegaverse by a long shot - the first f/m omegaverse fanfic was published in 2012.

    Calling Addison Cain the first person to write F/M omegaverse is completely unfair to the thousands of fanfic authors who created the genre. It's more accurate to say that she was the first person to do commercial F/M Omegaverse, because she may very well be the first person to do that.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I'm definitely going to be looking into that! As for the other MF Omegaverse stories, if you could point me in the direction for researching my next blog post, I would appreciate it! I pretty much read exclusively Literotica.com and books, so otherwise my first place to look is through google, but I'd prefer to start where the readers are.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment!

      Delete
    2. There seems to be a huge hang up on 'Addison being the first to publish MF Omegaverse'.
      That has NOTHING to do with the current court case or this blog post. What there is, is a number of similarities between the two books.
      For a long time Ms Cain's were the only published MF omegaverse books available on Amazon. There are quite a few other authors now who write in the same genre, I've read 3 of them and their work has all managed to be VERY different from Born to Be Bound.

      Delete
  5. Here are a few f/m A/B/O stories from Archive of our Own.org written across multiple fandoms and original works posted before January 1st, 2016, the year that Born to be Broken was published. You can find these kind of works in other platforms of course (Dreamwidth, Adultfanfiction, Fanfiction.net, Tumblr, etc.) but I mostly visit AO3. Mind the tags and trigger warnings.

    1. All For One and One For All by Jaune_Chat
    Published: 2012-07-22
    Summary: Natasha is the only alpha on a team of omegas. Who somehow managed to all go into heat at the same time. What's a responsible alpha to do but have an orgy?
    ( https://archiveofourown.org/works/465830 )

    2. All Reason Aside, I Just Can't Deny by tristesses
    Published: 2012-12-05
    Summary: Contrary to popular belief, Darcy likes being an omega! She's just a cynic about the soulmate thing, but statistically speaking, she's never going to find hers, so who cares? As for Loki, the disturbing thought that he could be inadvertently bonded with a mortal from the very planet he wants to conquer never crossed his mind, but if asked, he would claim it was impossible.

    Unfortunately for both of them, they're completely wrong.
    ( https://archiveofourown.org/works/583600 )

    3. our sweet escape. by katarama Published: 2015-12-25
    Summary: There’s a hand on Scott’s arm, making him still. He can smell the way the scent blends with his own, familiar. As settling as it is dangerous right now, with his whole body flushed and warm. He knows the professor is talking, and he can see his mouth moving, but he can’t hear a word that’s coming out of his mouth, his head a rush of chemicals. He can hear his heart beating, can hear every movement of the alpha next to him.

    His alpha. Allison.
    ( https://archiveofourown.org/works/5531633 )

    4. My Choice by yeaka
    Published: 2013-07-27
    Summary: Fortunately for Draco, he gets to oversee certain Omegas’ detentions.
    ( https://archiveofourown.org/works/900900 )

    5. This is an Alpha's world by KristinStone
    Published:2015-08-26
    Summary: ... but it would be nothing without an Omega by their side.

    In a world where Omegas are nothing but breeding machines and sold to the highest bidding Alpha love is a mere product of biochemicals. Romantic novels enthuse over the true and pure love above biology and chemical body reactions. But when Reba gets sold to her Alpha she has to face the dark and grim reality that some Alphas still live in 1849 and see their bond mates as nothing but housewives and breeding machines … although even that she isn't allowed, among other things.

    If she will find happiness in her life or end up chosing to share the same fate as her Omega mother depends on her own willpower and strength.
    ( https://archiveofourown.org/works/4659930/chapters/10630869 )


    So these are just five out of 419 works within the Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics tag specifically for the F/M category, but if you include Multi category works (F/M, M/M, F/F, etc) that number bumps up to 1579, and these are published BEFORE 2016. The overall number of F/M & Multi works in the archive for Omega-verse are 2681 and 7735 respectively.

    I say, for patrons of erotica, the commercial writers in y’all’s community are missing out on a lot of delicious Omegaverse goodness. Both Addison and Ellis should take this as an opportunity to expand their reading. Fanfiction is fun.

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    1. Hello! Thank you for the information! i will certainly use it.

      Also, during my research I have discovered that the quote being attributed to Addison as saying she created MF Omegaverse is wildly out of context - it was a response when a reader specifically asked her about the Omegaverse books on Amazon, of which hers IS the first as far as I've been able to find, and which the rest of the MF Omegaverse books available through Amazon do seem to follow in tone (aka being dark). I'm going to have that and more on my next blog post, but in the meantime, be assured that the screenshot of her claim going around the internet has been taken entirely out of context.

      As someone who didn't know that omegaverse existed outside of books until last year (whereas I was reading the MM books as long ago as 2013), I was thrilled to find out about the vast universes available on websites. Addison already knew about them of course, but I'm not going to fault her for not talking about them when she was asked a question that specifically and completely had to do with omegaverse works available on Amazon.

      Delete
    2. There seems to be a huge hang up on 'Addison being the first to publish MF Omegaverse'.
      That has NOTHING to do with the current court case or this blog post. What there is, is a number of similarities between the two books.
      For a long time Ms Cain's were the only published MF omegaverse books available on Amazon. There are quite a few other authors now who write in the same genre, I've read 3 of them and their work has all managed to be VERY different from Born to Be Bound.

      Delete
  6. I want to say thank you all for all the comments! However - DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DOX ANYONE IN THEM. I've already had to remove one comment attempting to reveal Addison's real name. This is MESSED UP. There are to be NO comments revealing her OR Zoey's real name. Doxxing is a very real, very dangerous thing to do with real life consequences for people and is an utterly shitty thing to do. If you know someone's real name, that's a privilege and not something that should be shouted out to the internet at will, I don't care if you got it from them or from a court document, keep it to yourself.

    It does not matter what other relevant or good information you have in your comment, any comment that doxes someone will be DELETED. Period.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just wanted to pop in and say Addison wasn't the first to publish Omegaverse on Amazon. I don't know if there were any before this, but it was published in 2014: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22828176-taken-by-darkness

    It's on the MF Omegaverse list: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111863.Omegaverse_m_f_romance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There seems to be a huge hang up on 'Addison being the first to publish MF Omegaverse'.
      That has NOTHING to do with the current court case or this blog post. What there is, is a number of similarities between the two books.
      For a long time Ms Cain's were the only published MF omegaverse books available on Amazon. There are quite a few other authors now who write in the same genre, I've read 3 of them and their work has all managed to be VERY different from Born to Be Bound.

      Delete
    2. There seems to be a huge hang up on 'Addison being the first to publish MF Omegaverse'.
      That has NOTHING to do with the current court case or this blog post. What there is, is a number of similarities between the two books.
      For a long time Ms Cain's were the only published MF omegaverse books available on Amazon. There are quite a few other authors now who write in the same genre, I've read 3 of them and their work has all managed to be VERY different from Born to Be Bound.

      Delete
    3. The release dates on Goodreads are notoriously inaccurate - the book doesn't appear on Amazon.....

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete