Can you tell the difference between an actual person and a fictional character with the same name? The court says you can:
The real-life Erin Bates says she was devastated when the character with her name became “shallow, materialistic, promiscuous and heartless” in the 10th book of a popular young adult series about fledgling vampires.
“It was very shocking,” said Bates, 27, who once was the personal assistant of Tulsa author P.C. Cast.
So, Bates sued. And, she lost.
Hidden, the tenth book in the House of Night series by Cast and her daughter Kristen, has been generally well received; some Amazon reviewers have been highly critical, but the series is averaging about 4.0 stars. Bates’ complaint:
“The first books one through nine the character was a fine character. There were no issues. Right before the 10th book came out, she and I had a falling out … She fired me without any cause … and, then, a couple of months later, the 10th book came out and Erin Bates was a completely different character,” Bates told The Oklahoman.
Cast says no, this was the 10th story in an arc of twelve, and everything was sketched out in advance.
Said the court:
“The Erin Bates character is a teenager while plaintiff is in her mid-20s. The locale of the book is entirely fictional,” Judge Larry Joplin wrote in the appeals court opinion. “The only similarity is the identity of the fictional character’s name and plaintiff’s name.
“Given the fictitious, ‘otherworldly’ setting of defendants’ book and its cast of wholly fictitious vampyres, no reasonable reader of the defendants’ book would conclude the fictional character, Erin Bates, depicts plaintiff acting in the way portrayed in the book.”
Final blow: Bates the real one was ordered to pay $5500 toward the Casts’ legal expenses.
We’ll see if Bill Peschel is available for comment.