Copyright infringement against another author and their book

Some authors come across another book, or a synopsis of an unpublished book, and find a lot of similarities between their published work and what they have found. They often enquire if this constitutes copyright infringement, and if there are remedies for this. We will answer that very question in this post as follows.

Can an unpublished book with a similar story be considered copyright infringement?

For arguments sake, if there is a clear case of commonality between the description of two books, that isn’t proof of infringement and does not warrant such an accusation. The actual contents of the book might differ, and the story itself might have a different narrative altogether. This is why it is important to review a complete book before claiming copyright infringement.

Can An Unpublished Book be stopped if you feel it is similar to your book?

As I outlined above, the biggest issue with this is the lack of information about the unpublished book. Claiming copyright infringement based purely on the synopsis is not a good strategy. There has to be a review of the unpublished book, and this will require a good understanding of copyright infringement.

You require strong proof in order to bring forward a case. The author of the original book also needs to provide an outline of damages that they have suffered. Damages that might occur isn’t permissible in court.

Our recommendations in such a scenario is to:

  • Discuss the matter with the publishing house of the unpublished book outlining your concerns and requesting a copy of the unpublished book. If they allow the author to review it before being published, a specialist copyright infringement professional should be used to conduct the review.
  • If the publishing house doesn’t release the book to you, then it would be appropriate to wait for the book to be released and then conduct a review to verify if there is a case for copyright infringement.

If a published book is similar to yours, is that copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement can only be proven if an authors work is copied literally or in substantial part. I will briefly detail both scenarios below. 

  • If Book A by Author A and Book B by Author B are identical whereby parts of Book A have been lifted and inserted into Book B, then this would amount to copyright infringement. However, this would require a copyright expert to assess the infringement in detail.
  • If the Book B follows the same narration as the Book A, however, there are differences which makes it a similar yet different story, there could be a case for non-literal copying of a substantial part of Book A. Again, a case of copyright infringement, but this requires a review of both books by an expert.

Such legal matters are always unique, and they also require a strong understanding of the law, which is why it is important to get initial consultation before proceeding with any claim.

We can discuss this matter with you if you are in such a situation. Please email us on or call 020 7790 7311.

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