Independent creation: a defense to copyright infringement
Well, copyright, as the word implies, is a right to prevent copying. If somebody creates the same thing as you, totally independently of your work, having never seen it, never heard it, anything like that, then they are an independent creator of their own work and they haven’t infringed your copyright. Now, if it’s a book and there are many, many pages that are exactly the same, it will be very hard to persuade a judge or a jury that, in fact, you created it independently. But if you did, that’s a perfect defense. There are many copyright lawsuits where somebody will allege, for example, that a motion picture infringes the copyright in their book, and they will say, “Well, my book’s been published, so they must have seen it.” But if the writer of the movie, if the scriptwriter and the director can convince the judge and the jury that they created their film totally independently of the book, with no knowledge of the book, then that’s a complete defense to copyright infringement.