First Daughter Sued: Chelsea Clinton Accused of Stealing Book Idea

Image via Screenshot from The Today Show

Chelsea Clinton, the only child of former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has been sued for copyright infringement. Author Christopher Janes Kimberley claims Clinton stole his idea for a book that she published entitled “She Persisted”. Kimberley is suing Clinton and Penguin Random House Publishing for damages up to $150,000 in a New York Federal Court.

Chelsea Clinton has shed the label of “first kid” some time ago. The Stanford, Columbia and New York University graduate has been an activist, consultant and best-selling author since her teenage years in the White House. Clinton’s latest children’s book She Persisted seeks to introduce strong feminists throughout history to young girls. However, a little-known author, Christopher Janes Kimberley, of Albany New York, claims that Clinton ripped off his idea for the book and seeks to prove it in court.

According to Kimberley, he came up the idea for the book entitled A Heart is the Part That Makes Boys and Girls Smart in 2013. He states that the painstakingly researched children’s book was pitched to the President of Penguin Young Readers US, Jennifer Loja in May 2013. However, instead of publishing the book she allegedly passed the idea off to a much more well-known and profitable author, Chelsea Clinton.

Eventually, Penguin Random House published Clinton’s She Persisted in May of this year. The children’s book quickly shot up the best seller’s list and netted a large profit. The illustrated book contains at least three quotes from inspiring historical women, including Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, and Nellie Bly, that appear in Kimberley’s book, along with similar images, the writer claims.

However, the question remains whether or not this constitutes copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement. Here, if Kimberley can prove that Clinton and her publisher stole his copyrighted work, he is entitled to significant monetary damages.

Kimberley told the New York Post: “I did months of painstaking research on my book. Her version looks like a ninth-grade homework assignment. I am in disbelief.” To Kimberely’s credit, he served Clinton and her publisher with a cease and desist letter in April in order to block the release of the book. In the lawsuit, Kimberley adds, “The appearance of impropriety is striking.”

The title, She Persisted is a meme adopted by the feminist movement. The phrase originated this year when the United States Senate voted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren’s objections to confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell uttered this sentence during comments following the vote in an effort to defend the Senate’s actions and blame Senator Warren.


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