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Oprah Dodges $100M Copyright Suit for 'Plagiarizing' Book

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 01, 2011 12:46 PM

Everyone wants a piece of Oprah Winfrey before she half-heartedly leaves broadcast television.

But the talk show queen can do no wrong, not even plagiarize someone else's book.

No, a Pennsylvania judge dismissed a $100 million lawsuit against her O-ness, saying that the allegedly infringed material lacked the requisite originality.

Kind of like Oprah, don't you think?

Charles Harris wrote a little pamphlet called "How America Elects Her Presidents" and, in 2008, sent Oprah a few copies with hopes that she would catapult him to stardom.

Instead, he was surprised to tune in and find her asking the "exact same questions" he posed in his book. Mind you, Reuters reports that this occurred on a show about a smart kid that could recite random and useless facts about our nation's presidents.

She was clearly out of topics.

Oprah's attorneys challenged the lawsuit, stating that the show's transcripts clearly demonstrate that she only asked one question verbatim. Even so, the judge agreed that presidential facts are not copyrightable, and the questions lacked originality, notes Reuters

As much as this blogger hates to admit it, Oprah and her legal team were correct.

Copyright law is meant to protect original creations, not facts and ideas. Facts are strictly off the list of copyrightable works, even if you are the person who discovered them.

While a description or illustration is copyrightable, underlying ideas, concepts and short phrases also don't meet the originality requirement. Questions, such as asking which former president weighed the most (Taft), fit into this category.

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