Da Vinci Code plagiarism?
"The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown was accused in Britain's High Court on Monday of taking material for his blockbuster conspiracy thriller from a 1982 book about the Holy Grail (just as much of this material that I'm writing for my blog has been "taken" from yahoo! News).
The accusation was made in a breach of copyright lawsuit filed against "The Da Vinci Code" publisher Random House by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail". Baigent and Leigh claim Brown appropriated their ideas and themes in writing his book, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its 2003 publication. But in their
book, Baigent and Leigh pretty much claim to be reporting facts that they'd uncovered through their research. They didn't consider their book to be fiction, so it's not an artistic creation, but an academic study. I think that as a supposed report of established "facts", which have reportedly been known to a select group of people for the past 2000 years, these authors can't possibly claim ownership of such details. People don't "own" facts, especially not if there have supposedly been a number of people who have known these facts, whether they were secret or not, throughout the past two millennia. It's very possible (or probable) that anyone else who would have had access to their "evidence" would have been able to draw the same theories or conclusions that they did in their book.
Let's say a few years ago there was an academic who was the first to uncover details about Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, and was to write an paper (article, treatise, book, etc.) on the subject. If a novelist were to come along afterwards and write a fictional tale based upon those details, would the academic be able to claim ownership of those facts? Of course not.
It would be different if Baigent and Leigh had written a straight piece of fiction, but they claimed to have uncovered facts, and facts belong to everyone. They are in the public domain and therefore I think that Brown's use of those facts was what they call in the Intellectual Property Law field, "fair use".
Brown even mentions their book within his tale, so these guys can only have benefited from the attention that "The Da Vinci Code" has brought to them. I bought and read their book a couple years ago because of the curiosity that reading Brown's book had instilled in me. I'm sure they've sold many more of their books because of his, so they should just be grateful, instead of biting the hand that has been feeding them (and will continue to feed them as long as "The Da Vinci Code" keeps being sold).
One last thing on this subject, also from yahoo! News (see, I'm giving credit where it's due), Brown's book also was the target of a previous U.S. lawsuit. In 2005, a U.S. judge in New York ruled that his book did not infringe on the copyrights of "Daughter of God," by Lewis Perdue. The judge also ruled out any copyright violations of Perdue's 1983 novel "The Da Vinci Legacy."
Posted by tonylagarto
at 3:22 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006 3:31 PM EST