Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Plagiarism or Greed?

Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, is being sued for plagiarism. According to Lawyer: Dan Brown evidence suspect, published yesterday on CNN:
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing Da Vinci Code publisher Random House, claiming Brown's book "appropriated the architecture" of their 1982 nonfiction book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Both books explore theories -- dismissed by theologians -- that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, the couple had a child and the bloodline survives.
Brown indirectly acknowledged Leigh and Baigent by naming a character, Sir Leigh Teabing (an anagram of Baigent) after them, but they want more. Their lawsuit could even delay release of the new film of The Da Vinci Code.

According to 'Da Vinci Code' case nears ending, published Sunday on CNN, this not the first time Brown has been sued over The Da Vinci Code, "Last August he won a court ruling against Lewis Perdue, who alleged The Da Vinci Code copied elements of two of his novels, Daughter of God and The Da Vinci Legacy."

What do these cases have in common? Greed, I'm sure. The Da Vinci Code has been on The New York Times best-seller list for two years and has sold over 40 million copies. 40 million! Just imagine that. Even if Dan Brown makes less than a dollar in royalties per book, he has made millions. I'm sure Leigh and Baigent, like Perdue before them, are motivated by the idea of getting part of that money.

I hope they don't. I'm ticked because of their greed and because their lawyer is now trying to drag Brown's wife, who helped with the research, into the case. If Leigh and Baigent win, does it mean authors can't use non-fiction or history in fictional works? I supposed we can thank James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces, for muddying the distinction between fiction and non-fiction, but Brown acknowledged that fact that he's read lots of books on his subject and none of the ideas are really new. He's right. What's new is the creative and compelling story he created that is driving people to learn more about art, history, and religion -- and I hope he's not punished for that.

3 comments:

helen not of troy said...

This lawsuit is beyond strange.

Leigh, Baigent et al have written a book which purports to be non-fiction. Brown's book is a work of fiction. Most (all?) fiction is based upon ideas, events, etc that inspire the writer. If this suit succeeds, it bodes ill for the ability of artists to freely explore and express ideas. This reminds me a bit of the suit brought against (and attempt to stop the publication of) the satirical novel "The Wind Done Gone" by the owners of the "Gone with the Wind" --which failed.

There is a curious sub-text to this little story. Richard Leigh happens to be the brother of the noted astrologer Liz Greene (www.cpalondon.com, www.astro.com), author of the book the "Dreamer and the Vine." For the last 30 years, Greene has been claiming on her publicity materials that she has a PhD in psychology, and is a "qualified Jungian analyst." Recently it has come to light that this is a flat out lie. Not only does she not have a PhD, but she does not even have a BA. For awhile, she was lecturing at Bath Spa University. She stopped when it was discovered that she had lied about her credentials.

References to her non-existent PhD have been pulled from her websites over the last year. 2 years ago, she was always Liz Greene PhD.

Funny how these things tend to link up.

More at http://www.astroamerica.com/greenebio2.html

Lewis Perdue said...

Greed?

If you examine the facts at http://davincicrock.blogspot.com, you will find that I am donating proceeds from the suit to charity.

And that Random House sued ME, not the other way around.

And the legal fight is not over. Next hearing in NYC on April 11

The Cat Bastet said...

Lewis,

Thank you for visiting my blog and setting me straight about your problems with Random House. The media sure didn't report your story accurately. (How typical!)

I'm going to put a new post on my blog linking to your Da Vinci Crock so my readers (few though they may be) will get the whole story.

I've also put your books on my list of books to read and will also recommend them to my students.

Thank you!