Copyright Infringing Plagiarism or Literary Remix? AXOLOTL Roadkill a Literary Sensation in Berlin : Originality vs. Authenticity as a Legal Defense?

Copyright infringing plagiarism or literary remix? Will the real author please stand up.

In Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing,’ Not Plagiarism, Nicholas Kulish at the NYTimes.com informs us that Helene Hegemann, a mere 17 years old – but daughter of Carl Hegemann, one of the most prominent and innovative dramaturgs in Europe, now a Professor at the Department of Dramaturgy in Leipzig – seems to be following in her father’s footsteps and has landed a beststeller in Germany with her first book, Axolotl Roadkill, a novel just announced as a finalist for the $20,000 fiction prize of the Leipzig Book Fair – a nice gesture to one of their own?

It was Carl Hegemann:

“[W]ho developed the theoretical superstructure for this hybrid artistry: “A reality is no longer encountered, but brought forth by the ‘members’ of a culture.”

But who really wrote this book?

One major problem with the book – as it turns out – is that:

[A] blogger last week uncovered material in the novel taken from the less-well-known novel “Strobo,” by an author writing under the nom de plume Airen. In one case, an entire page was lifted with few changes.

As written in Helene Hegemann, the art of cut and paste in the Berliner Zeitung in picking the “European of the ‘Week”:

“Helene Hegemann says she’s sorry, she knows it was wrong “not to mention all the people whose writings helped me”. And yet she stands by her novel: after all, “there’s no such thing as originality anyway, there’s only authenticity”. What’s more, she’s only a “lodger” in her own mind: “I help myself to whatever inspires me.””

Who is Airen? and what if there is some kind of a literary connection to Carl Hegemann?

As the legal mind would say – an interesting case.