The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle
|Title:||The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle|
|Date(s):||04 August 2006|
|External Links:||The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle is a 2006 exposé by Avocado detailing the events surrounding Cassandra Claire's ban from FanFiction.Net (June 22, 2001) and the plagiarism present in The Draco Trilogy.
The Draco Trilogy was posted in installments over a period of six years (2000-2006). In each installment, Cassie deliberately inserted unattributed quotes from various science fiction television shows and may have expected her readers to identify them, but many readers were not aware that the quotes were not her writing. Not everyone thought that this practice was ethical. Matters came to a head in 2001 when Avocado identified extensive sequences of action, description and dialogue from Draco Sinister, Chapter 9 as having been lifted from The Hidden Land, an out-of-print fantasy novel by Pamela Dean. Cassie was subsequently banned from Fanfiction.net for plagiarism. There was much wank. However, not all the plagiarized passages were discovered at that time. Not everyone thought that the plagiarism mattered. Wank, debate, and plagiarism accusations would resurface from time to time between 2001 and 2006.
Avocado's exposé was posted less than two months after a widely read magnum opus detailing the misbehavior of another Harry Potter fan, MsScribe, and in fact was inspired by this earlier account. See The MsScribe Story: An Unauthorized Fandom Biography. Both exposés were posted on LiveJournal several years after the fact, thus exposing a newer generation of fans to old Harry Potter wank that had happened to some extent on other platforms.
As noted in the comments, The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle was posted on the same day as the last chapter of the last book of The Draco Trilogy.
- Introduction: My motivation; WebCite for Intro to Part IV)
- Part I: Cast of characters
- Part II: How it began
- Part III: My impressions of the Draco Trilogy
- Part IV: Waiting Part IV: Waiting
- Part V: The brawl:; WebCite for Part V through e-mail
- Part VI: What changed?
- Part VII: Aftermath -- the other reason I shut up in 2001
- Part VIII: The excuses, a summary
- Part IX: Contact prior to account deletion; WebCite for Part IX through XI
- Part X: The foundation of Fiction Alley
- Part XI: R.J. Anderson, Pamela Dean, and permission
- Part XII: Plagiarism? What plagiarism?; WebCite Part XII
- Part XIII: Is Cassandra Claire claiming credit for it?; WebCite Part XIII through Epilogue
- Part XIV: Is Cassandra Claire profiting from plagiarism?
- Part XV: Heidi
- Epilogue: Why bother, five years later?
The largest portion of borrowed text appeared in Draco Sinister Chapter 9 and was taken from Pamela Dean's The Hidden Land, the second book of her Secret Country Trilogy. The chapter's original disclaimer read only: "Credit for the inspiration for this conception of the wizarding afterlife goes to a book called The Secret Country, alas, I no longer recall who wrote it."
Below is a portion of Avocado's side-by-side comparison of the Draco Sinister scene (left) and the plagiarized scene from Dean's The Hidden Land (right):
Draco opened his eyes, or thought he did. He could not see anything with them, not blackness, not anything. Harry, he tried to say, but he had nothing to say it with – no throat, no voice. It was like dreaming, and knowing he was dreaming, but not being able to wake himself up."Harry!" he called out, and this time he heard his own voice, and jumped.
Ted opened his eyes, or thought he did. He could not see anything with them, not blackness, not anything. He did not seem to have eyes, or anything else. Randolph, he tried to say, but he had nothing to say it with. It was like dreaming, and knowing you were dreaming, and trying to wake up by remembering the bed, and the pillow, and the color of your pajama sleeve: it was like the time just before the trick worked and you woke up."Randolph!" said Ted, and jumped. He had a voice, and ears to hear it, and a nervous system to make him jump when he was startled.
See the entire comparison in Part 3 of the exposé.
Chapter 11 of Draco Sinister also contained several lines lifted from The Secret Country and The Hidden Land, as well as the concepts of Nightmare Grass and Dean's version of shape-shifters from the trilogy. The original version of the chapter was uncited; a later footnote credited Dean for the Nightmare Grass and shapechangers.
For Pamela Dean's views in 2001 on fanworks based on her creations, see: FanWorks.org : Fan Works Inc. - Help & Tools Index : Pamela Dean, Archived version.
Pop Culture Dialogue
Cassandra Claire often reproduced concepts, rough scenes, descriptive phrases and dialogue from several fantasy novels. These borrowings were often uncited (or cited in such a way as to make the amount of borrowed text appear far less extensive than it actually was.)
For instance, in Tanith Lee's "Magritte's Secret Agent," a character description reads:
"The skin of his face had the sort of marvellous pale texture most men shave off when they rip the first razor blade through their stubble and the second upper dermis goes with it forever."
Cassandra Claire rephrased this line in Draco Dormiens, chapter 6:
"I'll be sorry when you start shaving," she said dreamily (she was quite lightheaded now), "I love that translucent quality your skin has, I always have. And when you rip that first razor through your stubble, that'll go with it forever." 
Unlike the TV quotes from Buffy and other shows, which were usually altered very little from their original form, Cassandra Claire's repeated borrowing from classic fantasy authors like Roger Zelazny, Tanith Lee, Gene Wolfe and Pamela Dean was both more extensive, and harder to pick up on, as descriptive passages and particular turns of phrase were inserted subtly into paragraphs of Cassandra Claire's own work.
Again, citations were either nonexistent or failed to fully account for the amount of material that was borrowed.
- I Can't Believe I'm Writing About This...; WebCite by angua9, August 7th, 2006
- Plagiarism doesn't count if I think you have talent!; WebCite, August 6th, 2006
- The Cassie Claire Primer; WebCite, October 15, 2004
- Does plagiarism matter in fanfiction?, August 7, 2006
External Links for Further Reading
- Originality Considered Harmful?; WebCite, by nostrademons, March 23, 2003
- Cassie Claire and her fan fiction; WebCite, thread at FictionAlley Park, December 2002
- In the introduction Avocado says, "My motivation for doing it now is having read Aja's post about her time in the Inner Circle and Ari_O's post during the Ms. Scribe Story." The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle -- Intro through Part IV, posted to bad_penny on 4 August 2006.
- See thread starting at 2006-08-04 09:10 pm UTC on the bad_penny post "The Cassandra Claire Plagiarism Debacle -- Intro through Part IV"; WebCite.
- Avocado's Bad Penny account, http://www.journalfen.net/community/bad_penny/10481.html Posted August 06, 2006. Archived September 20, 2012 at WebCite