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.
Dear Marve with an ‘E,’ I have tried to reach out to you privately regarding copyright infringement, but have received no response. Please take your tweet down. https://t.co/c3PEXkTjMf pic.twitter.com/D5f1Z3JLMo— ✧.* ੈ✩♡Lauren M. Davis♡✩ ੈ .*✧ (@AuthorLMDavis) December 17, 2023
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.
*Apollo has entered the chat*— Barlow Adams (@BarlowAdams) December 18, 2023
*Ra has entered the chat*
*Nyambe has entered the chat*
* Huitzilopochtli has entered the chat*
*Magnifying glass has entered the chat*
*A tanning bed has entered the chat*
*Sunny D has entered the chat*
*Sunny D has left the chat*
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.”
☢️ 𝐖𝐑𝐈𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐒 𝐁𝐄𝐖𝐀𝐑𝐄 ☢️— ✧.* ੈ✩♡Lauren M. Davis♡✩ ੈ .*✧ (@AuthorLMDavis) December 17, 2023
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. Especially, if I reach out to you multiple times first to resolve the issue… pic.twitter.com/xWWw6olVNJ
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.
As for the Nigeria reference, even though it is an influential and important country, there is a 𝒉𝒊𝒈𝒉 rate of banking phishing scams, cyber fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering that comes out of that country. pic.twitter.com/W4Qpsc6V7j— ✧.* ੈ✩♡Lauren M. Davis♡✩ ੈ .*✧ (@AuthorLMDavis) December 19, 2023
“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.
Annnd for the 𝕏ers who say I should have spoken with an attorney first – I did. His firm said to wait until she releases her book through some traditional publisher and view the final product before persuing litigation.— ✧.* ੈ✩♡Lauren M. Davis♡✩ ੈ .*✧ (@AuthorLMDavis) December 19, 2023
The Daily Dot reached out to Anson via email.