A Piece of My Mind: Dan Brown
Bennet Pomerantz

I would like to restate that I remain astounded by the claimants' choice to file this plagiarism suit. For them to suggest, as I understand they do, that I have hijacked and exploited their work is simply untrue.
   ~ Dan Brown about the suit regarding The DaVinci Code

Has 2006 been the year of pick on authors and their works? It does seem to be going that way, doesn't it? It is an issue we as writers need to look at.

I understand the recent James Frey incident was wrong and over-hyped by the media in general.  That is my opinion and I am sticking by it. I do not know why Frey prefabbed his so-called memoirs, A Million Little Pieces. I cannot fathom in any way, shape or form how this blemish will affect writers and their writing for years to come.

And now, two authors claim in a British court room that Dan Brown plagiarized parts of The DaVinci Code from their work. Historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three authors of the 1982 nonfiction tome The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (known in the U.S. as Holy Blood, Holy Grail) allege he not only stole their ideas, but lied about doing it. The work's third author, Henry Lincoln, opted not to take part in this lawsuit.

What they claim is that Brown based the "edifice" of his book -- the so-called "bloodline" theory he laid out in the book; that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had a child. Also that their Heir and the bloodline continued into France.

This isn't the Brown's first time battling plagiarism charges. Based on his track record in court, he should be encouraged. Last August, the author won a court ruling in the U.S. against author Lewis Perdue, who claimed Brown's bestseller lifted elements from two of his books, Daughter of God and The DaVinci Legacy.

Now understand, Brown himself is NOT being sued in a British court . . . his publisher, Random House, is.  By the way, Random House is also the publisher of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces and Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

A question . . . a point to ponder . . . does this law suit bring Brown's new soon-to-be published novel, called The Solomon Key, (which will reportedly take place in Washington DC, and feature the secret society of the Freemasons) in jeopardy? I don't think so. I do wonder where this research came from and if there will be other suits forthcoming.

What is riding here is the Code's future profits. If Baigent and Leigh win, they can reap a financial windfall from the Brown's bestseller, They could also stop further book and audio copies of the Code. The authors also could stop the new movie staring Tom Hanks which has a May 19th release (and already has labels of "a box office hit" and "Oscar buzz" stuck all over it).

How will this affect most of us writers in general?  Major publishers (Random House especially) has been walking on pins and needles due to the Frey affair. Now with this in the mix, they will be more careful about where and what a person's ideas and research come from.

Is plagiarism right? NO, stealing is stealing.  But it happens! This is not the first time authors took words and ideas from other authors and it won't be the last. Most writers state that this does not happen.

A good example, Alex Hailey, the author of Roots, borrowed (ok, lets be honest, plagiarism is plagiarism) passages in his book from the novel The African by Harold Courlander. This situation was settled out of court, QUICKLY and QUIETLY, since a TV mini series and major TV network was involved. However that does not take away from the facts of this example.

However, it's the ideas where a person's research is now involved in the point of discussion. This is a new wrinkle on an old idea...so watch out poets, songwriters, academics and the rest, you may be next.

I wait to see what happens when the British High Court Justice, Peter Smith, rules on this case and the subject in general. His verdict is due before the current court term ends , which is April 13th .

I think this issue is very important. I await your thoughts on this subject. My email is [email protected]. I would love to hear what you think

Until next time, Reach for the Stars.

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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.