The Demidenko Affair: Copyright Law, Plagiarism and Ridicule
Media and Arts Law Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 159-176, September 2000
11 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2004
This article provides an account of one of Australia's great literary hoaxes - the Demidenko affair. In particular, it focuses upon the accusations that Helen Darville plagiarised a number of historical and literary texts in her novel, The Hand That Signed The Paper. This article considers how the dispute was interpreted in three different contexts - the literary community, the legal system, and the media. Part 1 examines how writers, publishers, and editors understood the controversy in terms of the aesthetics and ethics of plagiarism. Part 2 details how lawyers framed the discussion in light of economic rights and moral rights under copyright law. Part 3 deals with the media attention upon the personalities and politics of the scandal. The conclusion charts the competition between these various communities over who should resolve the dispute.
Keywords: Copyright law, literary works, historical fiction, plagiarism, economic rights, moral rights, post-modernism
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