Portrait of young woman as silhouette and hand holding the sun

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‘Apollo has entered the chat’: Author accuses Black writer of copyright infringement for sun-themed superpowers

'Racism at the heart of your choices here.'

 

V Roth

IRL

Posted on Dec 19, 2023

A white author has come under fire on X for accusing a Black writer of copyright infringement because she wrote about sun-themed superpowers in her upcoming novel. The saga led users to uncover the white author’s racist past online.

In a post from Friday, Nigerian author Marvellous Michael Anson (@JustMarveWrites) shared the news of her upcoming novel Firstborn of the Sun. Anson describes her novel as being influenced by the Yoruba culture of West Africa, featuring a population of people who are born with agbára. The Yoruba word roughly translates to “power” but here describes the ability to “summon energy from the sun.”

Another author, Lauren M. Davis, took issue with Anson’s use of solar-themed powers and called her out in a post on Saturday for what she believes is copyright infringement. Davis claims that Anson stole the concept from her work.

Davis initially asked Anson whether or not her novel featured sun-themed superpowers. When Anson confirmed, Davis said that she attempted to reach out to her privately “regarding copyright infringement.” She reasoned that her own novel, Nova’s Playlist, features a character with sun-derived superpowers.

Davis’ post quickly gained traction on X, where users called out the dubious legality of copyrighting a concept as popular and widespread as sun-themed powers. One pointed out a list from the SuperPower Wiki, cataloging several characters from different franchises that all possess sun powers.

Another pointed out Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, alongside numerous other examples from mythology from around the world in which deities and other beings are associated with sun powers.

However, in response to the controversy (and a slew of 1-star Amazon ratings for her book), Davis has only doubled down. Upon discovering that Anson had blocked her on X, Davis wrote, “Writers beware: If you steal my copyrighted work, passing it off as your own, you will be hearing from one of my attorneys – no matter what country you live in, @JustMarveWrites.”

In another post, Davis claims that Anson’s novel is “exactly the same” as hers, with the only difference being the name of the kingdom and the name of the power itself.

There are, it seems, a few similarities between Nova’s Playlist and Firstborn of the Sun: sun powers, a young adult audience, a fantasy setting in which two characters are on the run, and Black female protagonists. But based on the synopsis given for each, the similarities end there.

Still, Davis insisted that Anson stole her work and attacked Anson for her Nigerian identity.

Davis said that Anson would be hearing from her attorney “no matter what country [Anson] lives in” and insisted that those accusing her of racism for the comment are “playing the race card.”

She lamented in yet another post that the fiasco had caused her to miss out on a holiday party and added, “It looks like this girl used to be from Nigeria before she moved to the U.K. Like wow.”

She further doubled down on this comment, posting a screenshot from a Google search for “what type of crime comes out [of Nigeria]” and implying that it was necessary to include as Nigeria has “a high rate of banking phishing scams, cyber fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering.”

This enraged users on X and resulted in hundreds of replies and quotes, plus the resurfacing of previous racist posts written by Davis, who is white.

“Ahhh there it is your true colours,” one user wrote in response. “[Absolute] racism at the heart of your choices here… disgraceful.”

Another wrote, “To be clear you’re saying it’s okay to say a person of Nigerian background is more likely to steal because people in Nigeria run scams? that’s… your argument?”

Despite being inundated with criticism and hundreds of users trolling her, Davis only continued her claims against Anson.

On Tuesday afternoon, she shared that she had met with an attorney and sought legal counsel about the alleged plagiarism. However, the attorney also seemed to have doubts about the veracity of her claims: She said that she was told to wait until Anson moved forward with publishing her novel and to review the final product before a case could be pursued.

The Daily Dot reached out to Anson via email.

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*First Published: Dec 19, 2023, 5:37 pm CST