Omegaverse Litigation

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Event
Event: The Omegaverse Litigation
Participants:
Date(s): April 2018 –
Type:
Fandom: Romance, Original Fiction
URL: omegaverselitigation, Archived version
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This article documents a currently unfolding situation within the fannish realm. Content may change quickly, and the page structure itself may undergo major revision. New details are very welcome.


The Omegaverse Litigation is an event involving a romance author's attempt to claim to be the originator of the het Omegaverse trope.

Alpha/Beta/Omega is a kink trope wherein some or all people have defined biological roles based on a hierarchical system. The trope developed in fanfiction around 2010 and has continued to grow in popularity. The trope crossed over from fandom into original fiction, appearing in publishing original romance erotica. In April 2018, romance author Addison Cain, who had published het Omegaverse novels, filed a takedown notice against other authors of published Omegaverse works, falsely claiming that Cain was "the creator and owner of common tropes found in m/f, m/m, and f/f Omegaverse as well as dark romance." Author Zoey Ellis's publisher filed a lawsuit against Cain.

This article or section needs expansion.

Addison Cain's Books

According to Addison Cain's website:[1]:

USA Today bestselling author and Amazon Top 25 bestselling author, Addison Cain is best known for her dark romances, smoldering Omegaverse, and twisted alien worlds. Her antiheroes are not always redeemable, her lead females stand fierce, and nothing is ever as it seems.

Deep and sometimes heart wrenching, her books are not for the faint of heart. But they are just right for those who enjoy unapologetic bad boys, aggressive alphas, and a hint of violence in a kiss.

Addison's first book including A/B/O was Born to be Bound, first published on April 10th 2016[2] by Blushing Books Publications.[3]

Zoey Ellis's Books

According to her Goodreads Author profile[4], "Zoey Ellis is a Dark Fantasy Romance author currently working on completing her M/F Omegaverse Romance series, Myth of Omega. She writes dark-edged romances about tortured, possessive, alpha anti-heroes and the sassy heroines who belong to them (even if they don't want to!)." Myth of Omega began with the publication of the first book, Crave To Conquer, on January 15th 2018.[5]

In April 2018, an Addison Cain and her publisher filed take-down notices against the Myth of Omega books.

In October, 2018, Zoe Ellis stated in her blog post No one owns a genre, least of all Omegaverse that several of her books had been temporarily removed from distribution via DMCA take-down by an author and publisher asserting that they were "the creator and owner of common tropes found in m/f, m/m, and f/f Omegaverse as well as dark romance".

Statement of Zoey Ellis, on Behalf of Quill Ink Books:

I have a bit of a long post today, but it’s an important one so bear with me. This isn’t something I ever wished to speak about publicly or even dreamed could happen, but because of negative actions that have damaged my brand, sales, and integrity, I have no choice.

In April 2018, an author and her publisher filed take-down notices against my Myth of Omega books, causing them to be removed from sale at various retailers. These deliberately harmful actions against my work violated the Copyright Act because they made inaccurate and misleading claims of plagiarism. This accusation not only misrepresented the events in my work, but also asserted that that author was the creator and owner of common tropes found in m/f, m/m, and f/f Omegaverse as well as dark romance. After these claims were found unsupported, my books were reinstated; however, this process took a significant amount of time for some retailers. During this period, a title that wasn’t even published yet—that no one could have read—was also targeted, and preorders were lost when the book was removed from presale.

Instead of responding to attempts to resolve this issue amicably, the publisher and author chose to delay communication and persisted with threats of blackmail and attempted intimidation, as well as continued existing attacks against my character and books in collusion with others. I’ve since learned of other M/F Omegaverse writers who were similarly targeted by the same parties, including one who abandoned her story due to threats and take-down attempts. My publisher, after seeking professional guidance, realized legal action was unavoidable.

Obviously, as a new author, this was a scary conclusion for me, but the various actions taken by the author and publisher have been astonishingly wide-ranging and consistent, and can ultimately prevent me from having a successful career. I wrote my own interpretation of the Omegaverse, creating my own characters, world, and stories, and I have the right to publish and promote my work without unprovoked interference and defamation from others, regardless of their popularity. Anyone who reads both works without bias can clearly see they are not the same story, even if they are unfamiliar with the genre. So my publisher has now filed a lawsuit to address these unwarranted attacks on my works and reputation.

The court will be presented with all the necessary evidence to make a judgment about whether the process that exists to protect copyright can be abused to aggressively remove an author from the marketplace by inaccurately claiming to own tropes of a genre. All genres are recognisable by the familiar tropes and archetypes of their stories and characters, like the expectation that vampires drink blood and mysteries will be solved. Omegaverse depicts certain behaviors from its characters because they are highly instinctual, so many of the stories explore the conflict between body and mind just like countless paranormal and dark romances.

What’s important to realize is that all versions of Omegaverse began in fanfiction as early as 2010 and any claim otherwise dismisses the work of thousands of writers who helped to hone and define it as a distinct sub-genre. The author in question heavily borrowed from this existing universe to create her own work—she has no authority to gatekeep the genre, she was not the first to write any version of it, and she cannot claim to own copyright for any of its recognized concepts such as alphas being big or omegas being rare and resisting their heats. The court process will have the final say on this outrageous conduct to stifle other authors.

During the initial stages of this dispute, I’ll be limiting my time on social media to focus on the next book in the Myth of Omega series. I’d like to ensure readers get that story, rather than spend any more time and energy on this regrettable unpleasantness that began soon after the series rose in popularity. Since this is an ongoing legal matter, I won’t be able to engage in discussion about this situation. My hope is that this will be my only and final statement regarding it.

My Myth of Omega series will continue on as scheduled and I will be working, as always, on bringing readers more fantastical romances, many of which will continue to draw upon the established tropes of Omegaverse, which are owned by no one.

Thank you to all who have shown continued support for my work.[6]

Ellis's counter-claim presents evidence that the tropes first appeared in fanfiction, and that the original complainant has no copyright ownership. This cites acafan Kristina BussePon Farr, Mpreg, Bonds, and the Rise of the Omegaverse,” a chapter in the 2013 book Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World.

Legal Proceedings

False DMCA Take Down Notices

https://www.omegaverselitigation.com/legal-update/false-dmca-take-down-notices-a-threat-to-artistic-freedom

Dismissed Claim Against Cain

https://www.omegaverselitigation.com/legal-update/court-order-dismissing-claim-against-cain-for-lack-of-personal-jurisdiction

Court Strikes Blushing Response

https://www.omegaverselitigation.com/legal-update/court-strikes-blushing-response

Blushing Files Answer and Counterclaim

https://www.omegaverselitigation.com/legal-update/blushing-files-answer-and-counterclaim-waiving-personal-jurisdiction-and-venue

Quill Files Motion to Dismiss Blushing's Counterclaim

https://www.omegaverselitigation.com/legal-update/quill-files-motion-to-dismiss-blushing-s-counterclaim

Addison Cain to be deposed in Virginia

https://www.omegaverselitigation.com/legal-update/addison-cain-to-be-deposed-in-virginia

Fandom Comments & Response

The plagiarism complaint was spread online, particularly on Twitter.[7][8] User LilithKitty tweeted "Imagine getting jury duty, and it's the ABO lawsuit"[9]

There was also some talk comparing it to the #CopyPasteCris scandal, and pushback against that comparison.

[@courtneymilan in a tweet thread]
I’ve had people ask me to refer people to Addison Cain’s GoFundMe over a lawsuit where she is being sued for DMCA abuse, saying it was similar to #CopyPasteCris. I held off saying anything because federal lawsuits have public documents, and allegations may or may not be true.[10]
I still don’t know the truth, but I want to say that I have some extremely serious doubts that Addison Cain properly filed DMCA requests in this case.
[Courtney examining the DMCA takedown and Addison's legal reactions.]
Now, does this mean that we don’t have a case of actual copying here? I don’t know—I’d have to read both stories and compare them side by side.
But I’m pretty sure Addison Cain *knows* she didn’t invent Omegaverse, and the fact that she’s listing plot similarities that are a function of the trope that she didn’t invent? That makes me step back and say “whoa.”
So no, I’m not going to support the GoFundMe at this time. I’m not a fan of plagiarism, but I’m also not a fan of claiming ownership over tropes that you didn’t invent and which don’t belong to you.
Right now the similarities feel like:
  • both explore the universe
  • both use space ships
  • both encounter aliens
  • both aliens speak a different language
  • hostility ensues in both cultural differences etc etc
...
By the way, I don’t think Addison is affirmatively claiming to have invented Omegaverse. She is just not disclosing that she didn’t, and claiming ownership to standard A/B/O events by listing them as “similarities."
Correction: Addison is apparently claiming that she invented m/f Omegaverse, which is false.
Also, even if she DID invent m/f Omegaverse, it’s an idea, and she has no right to restrict others from the idea. Honestly, this looks to me like Addison is the copyright version of Faleena Hopkins. You don’t get to take ideas from the community. This is wrong.
[@Addison_Cain]
I wanted to jump in here and say that at no time ever did I claim to own Omegaverse. Not once. And anytime I was asked if I did own it, I immediately pointed that person to fanfiction. I also wrote fanfication for years before I was published. I love and support authors![11]
[@courtneymilan]
Addison, the issue is that by claiming standard plot items that you must have KNOWN were standard as similarities, you did effectively assert claim to concepts like suppressants, heats, and ruts. What proof do you have that you were plagiarized beyond standard Omegaverse fare?[12]
This isn’t fair of me—you shouldn’t answer because you’re effectively still embroiled in litigation, and you’d have to be an idiot to say things in public without advice of a lawyer.[13]
A brief note on my use of the word “ownership” in this thread.

I believe that claiming a right to exclude others from using an idea is a claim of ownership. You may not use the word “ownership,” but the right to exclude others is a primary function of ownership.

One fan even wrote her own fanfic AU about the litigation, casting Star Wars characters Ben Solo and Rey as associates working in the firm that is defending an author against plagiarism and copyright claims "brought by a published author of original A/B/O fiction."[14] Another fan created a mood board for the story.[15]

A group of fans penned the Omegaverse Limericks, Archived version

Further Reading/Meta

References

  1. About | Addison Cain accessed March 2019
  2. Born to be Bound on Goodreads
  3. Editions of Born to be Bound accessed March 2019
  4. Zoey Ellis (Author of Crave To Conquer | Goodreads accessed March 2019
  5. Crave To Conquer on Goodreads
  6. Omegaverse Statement, Archived version
  7. 4:22 PM - 12 Mar 2019, Archived version "I just want you all to know that an ABO plagiarism lawsuit was filed today. Reading the complaint was one of the best experiences in my life" from @Anaphiel_ gained 3k+ retweets and 4.8k+ likes.
  8. 1:42 PM - 14 Mar 2019, Archived version "Imagine being Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and knowing this paragraph is now part of the official record of a US court case" from @arthur_affect
  9. 4:47 AM - 13 Mar 2019, Archived version [4:47 AM - 13 Mar 2019] from @LilithKitty gained 1.6k+ retweets and 3k+likes
  10. Tweet, Archived version by @courtneymilan on 12 March 2019. (Accessed 14 March 2019.)
  11. Tweet by @Addison_Cain on 12 March 2019. (Accessed 14 March 2019.) Archive
  12. Tweet, Archived version by @courtneymilan on 12 March 2019. (Accessed 14 March 2019.)
  13. Tweet, Archived version by @courtneymilan on 12 March 2019. (Accessed 14 March 2019.)
  14. Tits v. Porny, Archived version
  15. Tits v. Porny mood board, Archived version