Publicity Stunt Or Serious Legal Issue? It's Wrong To Base A Novel On Research?

from the just-wondering dept

Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code has been a long-term best seller for reasons that aren't quite fathomable to some of us who have read it. The book isn't particularly well written. The story is simplistic and not all that entertaining. At least it's a quick read. However, as has been covered extensively elsewhere, the central theme of the book mimics a (mostly discredited) non-fiction book from the 80s. Does that matter? It's non-fiction after all. However, the authors of that original book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, are suddenly suing the publisher of the Da Vinci Code, who is, amusingly, also the publisher of their own book (which might make things a bit awkward). It's pretty hard to see how this can be a legitimate copyright claim. In fact, given all the attention directed at the non-fiction work in the last few years due to the Da Vinci Code, the authors of the original work should be absolutely thrilled about the novel. It must have resulted in the greatly increased sales of their own work from all those people who wanted to look deeper into the idea central to the story. Also, the timing on this is suspect. The book has been out for a long time, and the connection between the two books has been known for nearly as long. It's only now that the movie of the book is about to come out that this lawsuit comes out?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:48pm

    Patents!

    If we can patent software and business processes, why not ideas like "Holy Blood, Holy Grail".

    Let's take the silliness as far as we can. For the money!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    howard, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Patents!

    Bill Gates has been trying to confuse the issue of copyrights and patents by refering to both as intellectual property. Thank you for continuing the confusion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Steve-o, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:48pm

    Ugh. You can't COPYRIGHT ideas and themes.

    Ideas and themes are not copyrightable - only the text of the original book. Unless they are accusing Dan Brown of quoting without attribution, there's no way this lasts longer than an hour in court.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Say It Ain't So, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:53pm

    No Subject Given

    How have medical or technology thrillers (a la Michael Chricton, Robin Cook) gotten away with it all these years, if the premise of the authors of the non-fiction book is to be believed? Am I missing something?

    In light of that, I vote for publicity stunt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Josh Tomaino, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Patents!

    I want to patent the word patent. I'd make a killing off of all these articles about patent problems.

    I personally thought it was a good book btw.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Elzeard, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:25pm

    Re: Ugh. You can't COPYRIGHT ideas and themes.

    seems you have little experience with the American Legal system/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Ugh. You can't COPYRIGHT ideas and themes.

    This is the British copyright system that he's being sued in, not American.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Sean, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 12:56am

    Yeah, I'm sure it's a stunt

    No doubt some kind of stunt. How else do you get people re-excited about a book that was published years ago?

    P.S. I suppose techdirt could be considered a blog or something along those lines, but I've always thought of it more as a news source. As such, it's irresponsible journalism for the author to bash the book unless he's doing a review of it. Just give us the facts man, leave your opinions at home.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Stoolio, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 1:51am

    Re: Yeah, I'm sure it's a stunt

    Where have you been? They give opinions in all of their posts?
    The informal format makes it entertaining.
    As for the suing guy... the movie comes out in three months. Just like the Paris Hilton sex tape came out right before her new show.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 7:15am

    If Brown was right...

    from one of the articles: "...the Priory of Sion and its military arm, the Knights Templar."

    If Brown was right, wouldn't the Knights be all over him?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Josh Tomaino, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 8:05am

    Re: If Brown was right...

    If you paid attention, they were. It just wasn't in their best interests, as what Brown did was not illegal (as we'll find out once a judge hears this case), to seek out any form of retribution or punishment, etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    MGray, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 8:41am

    No Subject Given

    Seems an odd stretch.
    The work of non-fiction suing a work of fiction seems strange. YOu have to show that the Da Vinci Code either steals some portion of the text or materials (which I doubt) or that some how The Da Vinci Code infringed upon some sort of copywrighted material. I think it's a bit of a stretch.
    I mean the other owners are going to have to show the court how they were financially damaged.
    Heck - maybe the lawsuit is just an effort to sell their book. Since now everybody has to go read the non-fiction book. People have done a lot worse for publicity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Chris, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 1:45pm

    No Subject Given

    I think it needs to be noted that the book has now reached number 8 on the amazon.co.uk best sellers list. 2 behind the da vinci code.
    This law suite will be settled out of court for an undisclosed sum and everyone will be happy they sold more books.
    It's a publicity stunt, plain and obvious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Yuri, Mar 20th, 2006 @ 3:35pm

    Funny how...

    It’s funny, you take one person’s idea and you’re a plagiarist. But when you take many people’s ideas, you’re a researcher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    A. Y., Mar 23rd, 2006 @ 5:52pm

    Suit prior to movie "casting"

    TOO BAD THESE JOKERS DIDN'T FILE LAWSUIT PRIOR TO CASTING FOR MOIVE! I DO NOT LIKE TOM HANKS AS ROBERT LANGDON CHARACTER. THERE ARE OTHER ACTORS THAT LOOK MORE LIKE A ROBERT LANGDON.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    JnJ, May 12th, 2006 @ 3:26am

    Ideas

    If ideas could be copyrighted/patented, Arthur C. Clarke would be the richest man in the world for the notion of communications satellites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    YOUR MOM, Jun 21st, 2006 @ 8:07am

    WHY DIDNT ROBERT LANGDON BANG SOPHIE?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This