It’s been a really bad week, and now, to top it all off, I find myself siding with Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown in a plagiarism lawsuit filed by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, the 1982 work of “nonfiction” that provided the central conspiracy of the Code.
They’re arguing that his plagiarism consisted not in copying their words — which is what plagiarism is — but by adapting their ideas, which is dangerous for every fiction writer.
The irony is that in order to make their case, they all but have to acknowledge that HBHG is a fake — I can’t be sued for asserting that Lincoln died in 1865 — that’s a fact — but apparently, if I were to write an alernative history based on a Lincoln-assassination conspiracy theory, itself based on a hoax, I could be sued for plagiarism (provided I made a lot of money).
Another irony is that the Code has already, no doubt, been a sales boost for HBHG. No doubt it was languishing in warehouses, if it hadn’t gone out of print, before Brown gave it cachet by casting it in the form of a thriller romance.
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