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Battle of the books December 28, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books.
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Route 66 enthusiast Emily Priddy has announced that she’s going to update her parents’ guide to the Mother Road, “Route 66 for Kids,” on Feb. 1. The book has been available a free download as Adobe Acrobat or a Microsoft Word file from the Kids on 66 Web site since 2005, although it was initially self-published in 2003 and lightly updated in 2005.

“I’m really excited about this latest update, because it’s the first edition to come out since the release of Pixar’s ‘Cars,'” Priddy says in a media release. “I think you’re going to see a lot of families hitting the road next summer, trying to find all these places they saw in the movie, and I’m really looking forward to getting this new version of the book out there to help them plan their trips.”

In February 2006, another parents’ guide to the Mother Road, “Route 66 Road Trip Family Fun” by James H. Roche, was published. I decided to compare the two and found out interesting things about them.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am married to Emily. I’ve never met Roche, but we exchanged e-mails when he asked me in February to announce the publication of his book on Route 66 News, which I did.)

In comparing the books, here are the facts:

Cost: Roche’s book lists for $7.95 after going for $10.95 earlier in the year. Priddy’s book is a free download.

Content: Roche’s book lists 74 attractions on Route 66. Priddy’s book lists more than 160.

Roche’s book has large gaps between attractions, such as 240 miles between Stanton, Mo., and Riverton, Kan., and 244 miles from Albuquerque, N.M., to Joseph City, Ariz. Gaps in Priddy’s book never exceed 100 miles.

Both books contain several spots not on Route 66. Priddy’s book has a key that indicates which attractions are not actually on the Mother Road to help travelers avoid confusion. Roche’s book does not.

Roche’s book lists Web addresses, phone numbers and addresses. Priddy’s book lists Web addresses, phone numbers, addresses, admission prices and hours of operation.

Illustrations: Roche’s book has several dozen photographs and line drawings that were converted from photographs. Priddy’s book, save for the cover, is not illustrated, but she has drawn 17 coloring-book illustrations that can be downloaded from her site.

Text: More than one-fourth of the sentences in Roche’s 2006 book are similar or identical to the text in Priddy’s 2003 book.

Here’s one passage about Winslow, Ariz., from Roche’s 2006 book:

“Standin’ on a Corner … You know the rest. The hit song by Jackson Brown [sic] has given Winslow its musical claim to fame and a reason to construct a small park on Route 66 in downtown. Anyone who cares to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona can do so at the Standin’ on a Corner Park, a brick-paved corner lot on eastbound Route 66 featuring a bronze statue of a guy with a guitar case at his feet and a mural painted on a nearby wall, depicting a large window in which we see the reflection of a girl in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at all the tourists who stop for this irresistible photo.”

Here’s what Priddy wrote in 2003:

“Standin’ on a Corner … You know the rest. Winslow has used its musical claim to fame as the inspiration for a small park on Route 66. Anyone who cares to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona can do so at the Standin’ on a Corner Park, a brick-paved corner lot on eastbound Route 66 featuring a bronze statue of a guy with a guitar case at his feet and a tromp l’oeil mural painted on the side of a nearby building, depicting a large window in which we see the reflection of a girl (my Lord!) in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at all the tourists who stop for this irresistible photo op. The only down side is that you end up humming ‘Take It Easy’ all the way to Winona. But you’d probably do that anyway, right? Come on, baby….”

Here’s what Roche has about Funks Grove Maple Sirup in Shirley, Ill.:

“Heading down RT 66 between McLean and Towanda, you’ll see a large sign at the side of the road advertising ‘MAPLE SIRUP.’ (Yes, it is spelled that way on purpose.) Follow the arrow to a small building in the middle of a group of maple trees, where the Funk family produces its famous maple sirup. The spelling is correct: Maple ‘syrup,’ with a ‘y’ in the middle, contains added sugar. Maple ‘sirup,’ with an ‘I,’ is pancake topping in its purest form, its sweetness the result of natural maple sugar, its flavor both rich and delicate. The shop is open whenever the Funks have sirup, maple cream or their exquisite chocolate-covered maple truffles to sell; when they run out, the shop closes. The land has been in the family since 1824.”

Here is what Priddy wrote:

“Driving down 66 between McLean and Towanda, you’ll see a large sign at the side of the road advertising ‘MAPLE SIRUP.’ Follow the arrow to a little building in the middle of a stand of maple trees, where the Funk family produces its famous maple sirup. The spelling is correct: Maple ‘syrup,’ with a ‘y’ in the middle, contains added sugar. Maple ‘sirup,’ with an ‘i,’ is pancake topping in its purest form, its sweetness the result of natural maple sugar, its flavor both rich and delicate. The shop is open whenever the Funks have sirup, maple cream or their exquisite chocolate-covered maple truffles to sell; when they run out, the shop closes. Come out in the early spring and buy some of that naturally sweet ambrosia before supplies run out. For more information, check online at www.route66.com/FunksGrove or call (309) 874-3360.”

Here’s what Roche has to say about the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Arizona:

“‘HERE IT IS’: The most photographed billboard on Route 66. The Jack Rabbit advertises its presence with bright yellow billboards along 66 and I-40 emblazoned with a black silhouette of a jackrabbit and the mileage to the trading post. Upon reaching the store, tourists are greeted by a final billboard that proclaims, in large, red letters, ‘HERE IT IS.’ Besides its famous billboard, the trading post is known for its giant fiberglass jackrabbit wearing a saddle, which visitors can sit on for photos. Store offers a huge assortment of Route 66, Arizona and jack rabbit-themed souvenirs as well as snacks and gasoline.”

Here’s what Priddy wrote in 2003:

“HERE IT IS: the most photographed billboard on Route 66. The Jack Rabbit advertises its presence with bright yellow billboards along 66 and I-40 emblazoned with a black silhouette of a jack rabbit and the mileage to the trading post. Upon reaching the business, visitors are greeted by a final billboard that proclaims, in large red letters, ‘HERE IT IS.’ Besides its famous billboard, the trading post is known for its sweet cherry cider (pleasantly reminiscent of Kool-Aid) and its giant fiberglass jack rabbit wearing a saddle, which visitors can sit on for photo ops. Store offers a huge assortment of Route 66, Arizona and jack rabbit-themed souvenirs as well as snacks and gasoline. Open 8 a.m. to sunset Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to sunset Sunday. For more information, visit www.jackrabbit-tradingpost.com or call (928) 288-3230.”

Roche has offered no explanation on why the text in his 2006 book is so similar to the text in Priddy’s 2003 book. He did not answer my e-mailed questions about this issue. And Priddy is not credited in Roche’s book.

To recap:

Roche’s book contains more illustrations, but lists fewer attractions and less information about them, and is available for $7.95.

Priddy’s book doesn’t have any illustrations in it, but some illustrations are available online. The book lists more attractions and more information about them, and it’s free to anyone with a computer.

Comments»

1. James Roche - December 28, 2006

Ron; I have answered your wife’s and your e-mail each time you wrote to me. Your own article above proves that both books are completely different. Both books are based upon fact and there are only so many ways in which to describe fact which is why the US government does not issue copyrights to books with only facts. Ms. Priddy continues to harrass me with this issue and has now dragged her husband into the issue (which by the way I received a strange e-mail from Ron in which it appears he just found about my book and made no mention he was married to Ms. Priddy.Ms. Priddy keeps harrassing me from selling the book on EBAY but that will soon be resolved with EBAY as she has no legal rights to my book which she is claiming she does. She seems to be just ‘sour grapes’ because her book never sold and ultimately had to be offered for FREE on the internet.Her book is not much more than a listing of places and attractions on Route 66 and she thinks she has written a Pulitzer Prize winning entry. By the way thanks for the added publicity on your website it should increase sales for my book! http://www.rt66book.com

2. Ron - December 28, 2006

Jim, you did not ever answer the question on why large blocks of text that Emily wrote in 2003 showed up in your book in 2006, without you ever crediting her for it. If you wish, you can answer the question here.

3. james roche - December 28, 2006

I was not even interested in Route 66 in 2003. I took a trip on RT 66 in 2005 and went to many of all the attractions in the book. If you are referring to the text above in this website it looks quite different to me. The book is explaining facts and that is what both books appear to describe. As I said there are only so many ways that you can describe an attraction. It certainly is why the U.S. Copyright office will not even issue a copyright to a publication just containing facts. My book is copyrighted by me because it has unique photos and not just factual text. As writers I am sure you are both aware of this. Why Ms. Priddy a person that certainly supports RT66 wants to continue to harrass me on this ridiculous issue baffles me. I also support RT66 and want to spread the word of this wonderful road to many people that don’t even know what it is. I have told her that I have not made any profit on the book and I am just trying to break even on my publishing costs as this was self-published. I am working with EBAY to have the book re-instated on EBAY so that more folks can learn about RT66. If Ms. Priddy wants to buy out my remaining copies of the book I will offer her them at wholesale and she can sell them on EBAY if she wants. Unfortunely EBAY has a screwed up system and I have to work through their un-fair system to the rightful owner of the property. In any case your own article above shows all the many differences of the books and Ms. Priddy had nothing to do with my book. Happy New Year! Maybe in 2007 we can move on and you can convince your wife to a truce and let both books spread the good RT66 word. Thanks for letting me respond, many people would censor the messages to make themselves look good.At least I admire you for that!/jim

4. Anonymous - December 29, 2006

If you want the truth…why do you censor me? Where is the previous post that gives the facts?

5. james roche - December 29, 2006

If you want the truth why do you censor my messages? Where is the post I wrote with the truth?

6. james roche - December 29, 2006

sorry…about that…something must have happened with my computer..i see post # 3 now…sorry!

7. Ron - December 29, 2006

There’s no censoring, Jim. All comments must be cleared via moderation, in an effort to keep away spammers and/or inappropriate material.

8. Emily Priddy - December 29, 2006

Let me address your assertions point by point (with apologies to any of Ron’s readers who are trying to wade through this lengthy rebuttal):

1. Perhaps this is open to interpretation, but I think Ron’s post makes the similarities between the two books strikingly clear.

2. All nonfiction books are “based upon fact,” yet — remarkably — there are thousands upon thousands of such copyrighted books. The National Historic Route 66 Federation’s excellent Dining and Lodging Guide — which is certainly copyrighted — is based upon fact and belongs to the same genre as the books you and I published. Also, the government does not “issue” copyrights. It registers copyrights. Under federal law, copyright exists from the moment an original work is created, with or without registration (which is merely a formality that makes life easier for the lawyers in the event that someone files litigation of the type I am considering). Further, I think the passages Ron posted above illustrate, quite clearly, that there is more to both books than mere directory information. Every listing in my book includes an original description of the attraction being discussed. Had your book simply repeated directory information listed in mine, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance; obviously, you can’t copyright the phone book. But the passages cited above are written in my own distinct style, making them substantially more than simple facts. I am sure that you believe you are in the right on this matter. I am equally sure that you are mistaken.

3. I do not believe any rational person would consider my conduct toward you to be harassment. In July, I sent you a very polite e-mail, asking you how so much of my work could have ended up in your book without my knowledge or consent. You did not respond to it. I noticed you had a second e-mail address, so — in the interest of giving you the benefit of the doubt, and because I have missed messages before because they were sent to a dormant or forgotten address — I sent a second copy of my e-mail to the second address. I got no response to the second e-mail, so after a reasonable period of time, I called you on the phone to discuss the matter. I was exceedingly polite and offered you multiple opportunities to save face. You chose not to avail yourself of any of those opportunities. While I was considering my options, a family emergency arose that demanded my full attention, and I did not have time to follow up on the matter immediately. Upon discovering, several weeks later, that you were still selling copies of the book on eBay, I decided to file a complaint with eBay on the grounds that the item being sold contained illegally copied material. I had assumed you would take the hint when your auction was shut down, but for whatever reason, you did not. My only other direct contact with you was a comment I posted to you via eBay, advising you that I intended to dispute any and all future auctions of this book, as I believed it contained plagiarized material, and I was concerned that such action on my part could result in your being removed from eBay permanently. I did not want to see that happen, as I knew you were also trying to sell copies of your DVD, which I assume is your own work, and I did not want to hamper your ability to do that.

4. I have not, in point of fact, “dragged” my husband into this issue. He has been threatening since July to post something about this situation, largely because he was horrified to discover that he had been duped into promoting a book that appeared to contain plagiarized material, and he felt he owed his readers a clarification. In my quixotic effort to resolve this matter quietly, and in a manner that would protect you from public humiliation, I asked him not to say anything until I had exhausted all other non-litigious means of resolving the issue. I had hoped to save you the embarrassment of negative publicity and the expense of a lawsuit.

5. Ron did not feel that he needed to tell you that he was married to me, since that fact is widely known by virtually everyone in the Route 66 community and has been mentioned on at least one of the online forums you frequent. I believe we have also mentioned it on this blog in the past, although I may be mistaken.

6. Asking eBay to shut down an auction of an item that I believe contains plagiarized work is not “harassment.” It is a request for justice. As for your belief that this matter “will soon be resolved with eBay”: Don’t bet the rent. The letter I received from eBay indicated that this matter is finished if and only if I am gracious enough to refrain from literally making a federal case out of it. The jury is still out on that one; the next knock on your door could very well be a process server.

7. In point of fact, every press run of my book sold out, although I freely admit that I did order very small press runs (typically no more than 50 to 100 books) because I did not want to risk getting stuck with hundreds of copies of a book that wouldn’t sell, as you evidently did. I dearly wanted to give my book away freely to anyone who wanted it, but I could not afford to foot the bill for printing and distribution. I briefly considered burning CDs with the book on them and giving them away for the price of shipping, but Ron felt I should get something for the hours I’d poured into the project, so I consented to have a few copies printed to sell, with the understanding that at least part of the profits would go to benefit the nonprofit organization Friends of the Mother Road. I would have continued to sell them had I not A.) gotten sick of messing with it (I don’t like trying to keep track of shipping, and I’ve grown weary of sitting at a booth all day at Route 66 festivals when I’d rather be socializing with old friends), and B.) discovered that European customers were missing out on opportunities to buy the book ahead of their trips, thanks to the outrageous cost and time lag involved in overseas shipping. The day I had to charge a customer $16 for a $5 book was the day I made up my mind that the next edition of the book would be distributed freely online. I had already met my only financial goal for the project (to be reimbursed for the time I’d invested in it) and had raised a few bucks for FOTMR. Because I had been wise enough not to invest a large amount of money in a project before I was sure it would succeed, I did not have to resort to selling copies of the book on eBay to try to recoup a failed investment. With my financial goals met, I could afford to do what I’d wanted to do in the first place: Give it away to anyone who wanted it.

8. While your powers of clairvoyance are truly remarkable, I wouldn’t advise you to quit your day job to become a psychic any time soon. I do not think I have “written a Pulitzer Prize winning entry.” I simply think I have been the victim of copyright infringement, and I would like for the culprit to be a man about it and own up to his mistake instead of trying to justify his own unethical behavior by lashing out at anyone and everyone who calls him out for it.

9. I am certainly amenable to the possibility of a “truce,” as you put it. If you are interested in discussing the terms of that truce, you are welcome to do it either here, on Ron’s blog, or privately, via e-mail. I am not an unreasonable woman. I wish you no harm. And I would love nothing more than to help you find a way out of your labyrinth of obfuscation without having to go to the hassle and expense of litigation (which, under our existing legal system, would cost me nothing — plaintiffs’ attorneys typically work on a contingency basis — but could be quite expensive for you, even in the unlikely event that you managed to convince a court that you were not guilty of copyright infringement).

9. james roche - December 29, 2006

Ron..All I can say is you must be a Saint!./ I’m tired of beating a dead horse with her!

10. ben - December 29, 2006

Wow, Roche’s comments tell the whole story. There are only so many ways you can describe fact? He has yet to offer one way to describe the fact that his sentences are nearly identical. Why doesn’t he put a few commas in Michael Wallis’s book and sell it as his own? Perhaps it’s legal. It’s still immoral.

11. Ron - December 29, 2006

Jim Roche, you still haven’t answered this question: Why did large blocks of text from Emily Priddy’s 2003 book show up word-for-word in your book?

12. jim roche - December 29, 2006

I guess you must be reading a different form of English than me…From all the passages sited above they are not word for word at all.EX:“Standin’ on a Corner … You know the rest. The hit song by Jackson Brown [sic] has given Winslow its musical claim to fame and a reason to construct a small park on Route 66 in downtown. by Jim
“Standin’ on a Corner … You know the rest. Winslow has used its musical claim to fame as the inspiration for a small park on Route 66.by Emily
To me it reads as different information,mine mentions the artist Jackson Brown. I am not going to list every passage for passage but all are different in there own way. As I stated before both of us were reporting on the facts of an attraction and not a work of fiction. If you pick up any newspaper any day of the week you will see similar information reported because those are the facts of the story. Your wife wrote a collection of attractions that have been written about time and time again and she has written on nothing unique or special. If you look in the virtually hundreds of books written about Route 66 you will see the same basic information in all. Does she also own the rights to all of those books as well? That is exactly why the U.S. copyright office will not register a book consisting of facts alone. If I wanted to copy her book word for word as you put it why wouldn’t I have put in all the 160 attractions that you claim is in her book? I have never even seen her book in print. I only learned of it when she told me it was on the web for ‘FREE’. I might also point out that no where does it say that the book is copyrighted and reproduction is not permitted on the website. Again I will tell you that she had nothing to do with my book and I don’t understand why she continues to make a big deal out of nothing. Both books are simply reporting facts of Route 66 attractions. Maybe at some point this will sink in to you both. In any case,this is the last time I intend to respond to this website on this issue because we are truly beating a dead horse and it appears nothing will change no matter how many times I respond to this ridiculous issue. You and your friends will have their opinions and I have stated mine. Thanks for the forum though./jim/

13. Ron - December 30, 2006

You obviously don’t understand copyright law very well.

— Such laws do cover written descriptions, such as Priddy’s book, and the sentences that are plagiarized do not have to be *exact* copies to run afoul of copyright law. They just have to be obviously similar, which yours quite apparently are. They don’t have to be, as you put it, “word for word” to break the law.

George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” song wasn’t an exact copy of the Chiffons’ earlier hit “He’s So Fine.” But a court ruled it was copyright infringement, and he had to pay up. The same applies to written work.

— It doesn’t matter whether a written creation says it’s copyrighted or not. All written works are copyrighted AUTOMATICALLY at the moment of creation. It has copyright protection, even if the copyright date isn’t present.

And, yes, copyright laws do apply to work even if a written work is offered for free on the Internet. You still cannot copy a free written work without permission or compensation.

— The U.S. Copyright Office won’t *register* works that a facts alone. But the problem with your reasoning that Priddy’s decriptions are obviously not just facts, but creative descriptions of her own. Her writings are not just facts.

So answer the question that you’ve been dodging: Why is much of your text so similar to hers?

14. redforkhippie - December 30, 2006

“I have never even seen her book in print,” Jim says.

Really? Because I seem to recall getting out a copy, making notes on several of the attractions listed in it, and then handing it to you to take along on your trip when I ran into you at the Rock Cafe one afternoon while you were on the road, shooting your documentary. Remember that conversation? If not, let me jog your memory: You asked me several questions about where you should stay, what attractions might be good to visit farther down the road, and whether or not it was customary for large groups of foreign bikers to converge on the Rock, as they did while we were talking that afternoon. I answered your questions to the best of my ability, gave you some phone numbers to call and names of people to look up during your trip, gave you my own cell phone number, encouraged you to call me if you needed anything, and finally just went out to the car, got a copy of the book, and made some notes in it for you so you’d have phone numbers, locations, and hours of operation for some attractions that might be good to include in your documentary.

Of course, it’s possible that my memory could be faulty … which is why I asked the girls at the Rock whether any of them remembered seeing me do that. Lo and behold, one of them confirmed that I had, in fact, given you a copy of the book, because she remembered watching me do just that. So this part of your story doesn’t wash, either.

There’s one way out of a hole, Jim. You have to climb. I have a rope. All you have is a shovel, so all you seem to be able to do is dig yourself in deeper and deeper. Why don’t we trade? You take this rope I’ve been trying to throw you since July, and I’ll pull you out. In exchange, I’d like to borrow your shovel so I can clean up this ever-expanding pile of horse manure that you’ve generated.

15. Dennis Wood - March 21, 2007

Hello, RedForkHippie

Thanks for pointing out another one. It must be rough when you claim to have never seen a book, then dag-nab-itm the fellar what gave you the book pipes up. Puts a real damper on your credability.

I took this little passage from one of Roche’s messages (see, not hard to give credit, is it).
” I am not going to list every passage for passage but all are different in there own way. As I stated before both of us were reporting on …”

I have always had problems with people not using their “mother tongue” properly. It really irks me when the culprit is a writer, and they are not messing up on purpose. Hint: “in THEIR own way” not “there own way”, from Roche’s passage.

Emily, he probably had an editor do proofing, but it would be so terribly rich to have him copy one of your misspelled words and no correction be made. k-ching!

I am a brand new member of this society of the road. We’re a pretty small group, and can effectively police our own. Emily, I strongly encourage you to file a complaint. Start off by doing a web search on Copyright Violations. That should get you the information to start. Don’t bother doing the litigation route just yet. The criminal part is good enough to start with. As for myself, there is ZERO probability that I will ever buy this or any other item from Jim Roche ….

(oops – sorry folks. I tend to have serious typo problems since I had a stroke, and I just noticed a few. Please forgive them)

16. Kris - April 22, 2007

Please tell me, Emily, that this guy is still not using his “shovel”…..

17. Laurie Garth - January 23, 2008

Emily
G’day,
You wont remember me but I.m the aussie bloke that you met in the rock cafe and kindly guided to tulsa, I met Ron (I think) the bloke with all the tats.

I didn;t manage to drive all of route 66 and I will somehow get back “one day”

Looking at your dog I note that he is like my dogs. Russell and Liz.
Liz is a Jack russell terrier. Russell is a mixture but a terrier.

If you are not familer with Jack Russells they were also used as a rat dog.

I was just surfing route 66 sites and I saw your name and thought that i would just say thanks again.
I have heaps of good photos of route 66 especially one of the road to Conway. I coulemail some of OK should you wish

Stay well

Laurie Garth
kennedy st
Caboolture
Queensland
Australia

18. Laurie Garth - January 23, 2008

Whoops re the above post
It is obviously in the wrong spot.

Sorry bit this was the only spot that i could find to send a message

once again sorry for the mix up

Laurie


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