Fred Worth Is A Bad, Bad Man

In October, I finished Fred Worth’s Incredible Super Trivia, and I found at least one error in it. I said about the book:

Incredible, as in you cannot believe any of it. Quick, what’s wrong with that entry?

Apparently, Fred Worth purposefully inserted incorrect information into his books and eventually sued the makers of Trivial Pursuit for violating the copyright on his creative writing endeavors:

In October 1984, Fred L. Worth, author of The Trivia Encyclopedia, Super Trivia, and Super Trivia II, filed a $300 million lawsuit against the distributors of Trivial Pursuit. He claimed that more than a quarter of the questions in the game’s Genus Edition had been taken from his books, even to the point of reproducing typographical errors and deliberately placed misinformation. One of the questions in Trivial Pursuit was “What was Columbo’s first name?” with the answer “Philip”. That information had been fabricated to catch anyone who might try to violate his copyright.

Wow. Just, wow. It wasn’t a mistake. It was a purposeful attempt to snooker his readers.

I know this sort of thing is not uncommon in out-of-copyright reprints and translations, but in a book of erstwhile facts to find such willful mendacity really further erodes my belief in human integrity.

But, on the other hand, I have an excuse if I get the chance to blow my turn on Jeopardy!: Fred Worth made me do it.

(Tidbit originally seen in Mystery Scene magazine, but it doesn’t provide its tidbits sections on the Internet, apparently.)

2 thoughts on “Fred Worth Is A Bad, Bad Man

  1. If I remember correctly, Don Waller’s The Story of Motown provided a complete 45-rpm discography for all of Berry Gordy’s labels – with one bogus entry, specifically to flush out plagiarists. Apparently no one realized this until Hip-O released the Complete Motown Singles boxes (both A and B sides, with occasional alternate takes) and it wasn’t in there.

  2. The thing is, you can’t copyright facts. Had Trivial Pursuit simply rewritten the exact same questions, they wouldn’t be violating any IP laws.

    As it is, I hope the lazy bastards are made to pay.

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