The writer Nora Roberts on Wednesday sued a Brazilian romance novelist for copyright infringement, accusing her of copying or paraphrasing material from 10 of Ms. Roberts’s books.
In the lawsuit, Ms. Roberts, the author of best-sellers such as “The Liar” and “Vision in White,” is asking for damages of at least $25,000 from the novelist, Cristiane Serruya, as well as for sales of her books to be stopped unless all plagiarized material is removed from them. Ms. Roberts said she would donate all of the money to a literacy organization in Brazil.
The suit follows other plagiarism accusations against Ms. Serruya. She couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday, but in an email to Ms. Roberts’s publicist, Ms. Serruya said she “never intentionally plagiarized anyone.”
“I was fooled by some ‘mentors’ and ‘coachers’ who told me that ‘More, more, more, fast, fast, fast,’ ” she wrote, and blamed ghostwriters she had hired on the freelance marketplace Fiverr for the overlap between her books and others.
Ms. Roberts said the material lifted from her books was often word for word.
For example, a passage in “The Liar,” published in 2015, reads: “She was beautiful. A man didn’t get to be just shy of his thirtieth birthday without seeing some beautiful women, even if it was just on a movie screen. But this one, in the flesh, was one quick wow.”
A passage in “Royal Affair” by Ms. Serruya, published in 2018, reads: “She was beautiful. A man didn’t get to be just shy of his thirty-seventh birthday without seeing some beautiful women, even if it was just on a movie screen. But that was not the case with Ludwig, who’d had more than his share of extraordinarily beautiful women. But this woman, in the flesh, was superlative.”
Two months ago, readers discovered similarities between Ms. Serruya’s novel “Royal Love” and “The Duchess War” by Courtney Milan. Since then, dozens of other novelists — including Tessa Dawn, Loretta Chase and Lynne Graham — made similar accusations, some of them sharing their findings on Twitter with the hashtag #CopyPasteCris. More than 40 writers and nearly 100 books are involved so far.
“A lot of the other writers involved in this, they don’t have the money to fight it,” Ms. Roberts said. “I do have the money.”
In a series of blog posts in February, Ms. Roberts railed against a “sick, greedy, opportunistic culture” that she said is developing because of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, a self-publishing platform in which authors are paid based on how many pages of their books readers read — a system that “incentivizes the fast and more,” she wrote.
“It affects the entire industry, and it corrupts a really honorable profession,” said Ms. Roberts. “It makes writers look like hacks.”
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company takes “violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously,” adding that Ms. Serruya’s books have been removed from the Amazon marketplace.
That is not enough for Ms. Roberts. “I swear I’ll do whatever I can,” she wrote in one of her blog posts, “use whatever resources, connections, clout, megaphone I have to out every damn one of you.”