Dan Brown Update: Authors Rely On Sources

March 16th, 2006 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

We have reached a new level of bemused. And are feeling the slightest bit of pity for Dan Brown. Which, given all of the other stuff we’ve been reading, writing, and hearing for the past week, leads us to worry about the state of research and fair use in this world. Setting aside the notion that Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are making more than they should off of an old book that previously dwelt only in the libraries of conspiracy theorists, it’s bothersome that this trial is proceeding.

According to the authors, Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a non-fiction book, meticulously researched (you, of course, can draw your own conclusions). According to Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code is fiction. Now, fiction relies upon non-fiction as the basis of research for obvious reasons: relying upon fiction would set a bad precedent.

Taking this to its inevitable conclusion, if someone tomorrow decided to, oh, write a novel based on Terry Teachout’s George Balanchine, which, conceivably, could contain a different spin on aspects of Balanchine’s life than other biographies, can Teachout sue for repurposing his research? This is not an idle question in a world where there are clear cases of plagiarism versus research. And, no, we do not believe this example could happen in the real world — that’s why we chose it.

We’d also be remiss if we neglected to note that Holy Blood was itself based on the writings of other people. The authors didn’t come up with this idea on their own.

File Under: The Business of Publishing

4 responses so far ↓

  • Brenda Coulter // Mar 16, 2006 at 10:20 am

    And, no, we do not believe this example could happen in the real world — that’s why we chose it.

    Absolutely. I’m sure this won’t surprise you, Booksquare, but if I believed for a moment that Mr. Teachout could be provoked to sue someone over a Balanchine novel, I’d get right to work and “plagiarize” my little heart out!

  • Booksquare // Mar 16, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    I have no doubt about this. In fact, I nearly mentioned you by name…but I figured you’d come by if you saw TT mentioned. It’s a matter of principle!

  • Brenda Coulter // Mar 16, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    Yeah. My sister has suggested he might be getting a little creeped out. But he was my first blogger’s crush (you were the second), and you know it takes time to get over these things.

  • Booksquare // Mar 16, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Hey, as long as I’m in the top ten (hear that Joan?). I’m TT takes it as it’s meant. It’s only been recently that I’ve abandoned my deep passion for Ed Wyatt. It was fine when he was in New York, but now that he’s all Californian like me, the magic is gone.