Blogs > Liberty and Power > Law and Order: 87th Precinct?

Oct 20, 2006 2:17 pm

Law and Order: 87th Precinct?

I don't know whether any L&P readers watch the “Special Victims Unit” iteration of the Law and Order franchise, but something about this past Tuesday’s episode has been bothering me and I couldn’t figure out how to contact the producers of the show, so I’m just going to tell you. (And if you know how to contact the producers, please let me know.)

The problem is, this past Tuesday’s SVU episode was flagrantly plagiarized from an Ed McBain “87th Precinct” novel from 1984 (iirc) called Lightning. It was unmistakable: A serial rapist comes back to rape his victims a second or even third time because he's specifically trying to impregnate them - he's spying on them and using calendars to note menstrual cycles etc. The only difference between the two is the reason why he wants to impregnate them, and that it’s the NYPD SVU rather than the 87th precinct of the Isola PD that works the case. Intentional plagiarism? Unconscious? Coincidence? If anyone knows what’s going on, or how I might bring this to the attention of the producers, let me know. If any of you thinks I watch too much TV, let me know that also.

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More Comments:

Anthony Gregory - 10/24/2006

I watch that show too much. It's on like 50 times a day on ten cable stations. It's addictive, even though it's not really that great. I expect most TV dramas are ripped off of earlier stories in one way or another.

Aeon J. Skoble - 10/21/2006

Yes, good suggestion, I hadn't thought about approaching it from that angle. (Of course, I don't know how to get in touch with them either!)
As to the larger issue you raise: I'm not sure where I am w.r.t. IP as a political/legal issue. I've heard compelling arguments on both sides, including right here on L&P, but haven't decided yet which is most compelling. But in either case, I'd argue that the writers of that L&O:SVU episode have an aesthetic, even ethical obligation to credit the source of their idea.

Mark Brady - 10/20/2006

If you're concerned about plagiarism or copyright infringement, why don't you contact the copyright holder of Ed McBain's works?

On the other hand, is it, and should it be, a breach of copyright?