Fears that the lawsuit against the Da Vinci Code could spell trouble for the publishing world
In Britain, as in the U.S., ideas are not protected by copyright--it's the way they are expressed that counts. The accusation here is not that Mr. Brown's novel plagiarized the 1982 book's words. Plaintiff authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh assert that Mr. Brown wrongfully appropriated the "architecture" of their earlier work. For instance, the "Holy Blood" authors consulted documents in France relating to an alleged "Priory of Scion" organization that since 1099 has allegedly protected the secret of Jesus' marriage. Can, and did, the fruit of their labors turn up in another book?
The case is worrying to publishers and authors in part because it involves the issue of research and the point at which research becomes not just information but protected information. Depending on the judge's reasoning, a decision in favor of the plaintiffs could have a chilling effect on writers. A book (or other publication) need only appear in Britain for anyone, regardless of their nationality, to sue in a British court.
It's all the more depressing because "The Da Vinci Code" is a work of fiction, woven with legend ancient and new. So is the titillating essence of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," whatever its authors say or believe. "The "Priory of Scion" documents that figure in both books' conspiracy theorizing were long ago revealed to be grounded in a hoax. One of its principal architects, Pierre Plantard, a French anti-Semite and royal-blood pretender, contributed to a partial account of the conspiracy story in a book published in 1967. So perhaps Random House should pay his heirs.
comments powered by Disqus
- Recalling a Film From the Liberation of the Camps
- Skull Fossil Offers New Clues on Human Journey From Africa
- Are crude conspiracies right? Research shows nations really do go to war over oil
- Famed SC civil rights protesters have convictions erased
- A Fight About Taxing The Wealthy, A Century Before President Obama
- Claire Strom to Step Down as Editor of Agricultural History
- Joan Peters’s legacy assessed by one of her fiercest critics, Norman Finkelstein
- West Point historian says if his cadets can understand the history of war, so can Congress
- Australian historian Alan Atkinson wins $100,000 literary prize
- From his perch in Saudi Arabia, Princeton’s Mark Cohen says Jews and Muslims should remember they used to get along