Sarah Shapiro, an American born, Ultra-Orthodox authoress that lives in Israel, has sued Naomi Regan in a Rabbinical Court for plagiarism. According to an article in Israel’s leading daily newspaper, Yediot Achronot. Shapiro is suing for a million dollars, claiming that motifs and lines of dialogue in Regan’s “Sotah” were taken from her book “Growing with my Children”. Shapiro denies that a figure for the damages has been set.
Last month, Michal Tal brought similar plagiarism charges against Regan, see Best Selling Author Sued for Plagarism claiming damages of the same amount. Although sometimes several plaintiffs making similar claims tend to reinforce one another, in this instance, I suspect copycat charges.
I have read (and enjoyed Sotah) but have not read Shapiro’s work which is currently unavailable. I have approached the author directly requesting that she send me a copy. From Levinson’s article in Yediot and from passages selected by Shapiro and published on an ultra orthodox blog called Cross-Currents, it appears that unlike Michal Tal who was claiming that Regan basically ripped off plot, characters and essentially the whole fabric of her book, Shapiro appears to claim that the odd sentence of Regan shows similarity to sentences in her book. I would argue that even were Shapiro to prove that Regan was inspired by her motifs and sentences, well so what? The elements in question are subsidiary to the main plot.
From my familiarity with Israel’s copyright case-law, I can’t see the charges sticking. This may be why the charges are being brought in the Rabbinical Courts and not in the district courts. (Ms Shapiro claims to be bringing the charges in the Rabbinic Courts because she is a Haredi). Regan does not need to accept the jurisdiction of the Rabbinical Courts in this issue and need not agree to arbitration. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Israel civil courts will uphold a rabbinical ruling on copyright infringement.
I suspect that, inspired by the Dan Brown case heard in the UK recently, Tal and Shapiro believe that they can make easy money on this. Dan Brown was vindicated, see Author of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ Vindicated Again, and I think Regan will be, at least in the Shapiro case.