Stupidity rules, ok?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Grand theft idea

I felt violated, like somebody had broken into my head.

Filled with resentment and bitterness after seeing fellow author Dan Brown raking up millions with his international bestseller The Da Vinci Code, Lewis Perdue decided to take him to court on charges of plagiarism. Lewis had written a similar book a few years before Brown and felt entitled some of Brown’s millions. Lewis’ book, The Da Vinci Legacy, was based upon the same basic ideas about the Holy Grail and stuff. Lewis claimed that he came up with these ideas and therefore owned them. The judge thought otherwise, the ideas were too general and for that reason unprotectable. Maybe Lewis should have kept his ideas to himself if he didn’t want anyone to “steal” them, it’s impossible not to when he puts them on display like that. Or maybe he should go cry to his mommy instead.

Stupidity rules, ok?

2 Comments:

  • Nah, when somebody breaks into your head, the only way to get rid of the headache is to take action.

    So, Dan Brown won a round? The case is far from over.

    The headlines were wrong that the judge has cleared The Da Vinci Code of copyright infringement issues or that the issue has been settled.

    Contrary to the headlines, Judge Daniels did not "acquit" Brown, but quite to the contrary, acknowledged that there were many similarities in the setting, plot and characters, in other words the key ideas making up my books. However, in one of those interesting quirks of law, he found that Brown's expression of the ideas was different and, therefore, that in the legal meaning of the word he had not plagiarized. We believe the evidence the Judge improperly excluded from consideration proves that my expression was infringed upon, not merely my ideas.

    There has been no trial on the issues. What occurred exploits a quirk in American copyright infringement law whereby all facts and expert witness testimony can be excluded from consideration. This quirk is the "lay reader" test which says that the judgement relies on the gut-level response of an average reader as to whether similarity exists or not.

    Ironically, the controversy with Da Vinci Code began with average "lay" readers – strangers who sent me unsolicited emails saying they felt I had been plagiarized. While this is a self-selected population, those who feel I have been plagiarized run approximately 10-to-1 in my favor. This indicates there is a substantial legal question to be addressed.

    But NONE of those true, average "lay" readers – many of whom were identified in our legal briefs --counted. Only one reader counted in this case: Judge George Daniels who obviously fell into that 1-in-10 category. Because of that, I did not get a trial. Justice demands that a jury hear the evidence.

    The summary judgment process has an admirable goal: to keep frivolous lawsuits from clogging up the courts. However, as my legal team amply demonstrated with expert testimony and hundreds of solid examples of fact and similarity, this legal action is well-founded on fact, raises substantial unresolved issues and deserves a trial.

    The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has been clear on the following issues:

    (1) Summary judgement should NOT be granted unless there is "no genuine issue of material fact."

    (2) The Court should, "resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party." I am the "non-moving party."

    (3) A motion of summary judgement should NOT be a decision on whether copyright infringement has taken place. "Clearly, the duty of a court on a motion for summary judgment is to determine whether there are any genuine issues of material fact to be resolved by trial and not to decide factual issues."

    (More details about this as well as the case citation can be accessed at: http://davincicrock.blogspot.com/2005/05/2nd-circuit-appeals-court-decision.html

    Thus, I believe Judge Daniels erred in his decision. In addition, item (3), above, makes it clear that the Judge's decision should not be considered a decision on the merits of whether copyright infringement has taken place.

    Furthermore, I have never claimed to have copyrighted a notion, a fact, a plot, a bit of history, an idea or any other nonsense.

    This quote from the judge's decision is totally false:

    "Perdue alleged that Brown copied the basic premise of Daughter of
    God, including notions that history is controlled by victors, not
    losers, and the importance of the Roman Emperor Constantine in
    requiring a transition from a female- to a male-dominated religion."

    Just totally incorrect. Take a look for yourself at the original legal papers (including the expert witness reports) filed with the court, at: http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/ and you'll see that "expression" is what was infringed and what this suit is about.

    By Blogger Lewis Perdue, at August 09, 2005 3:33 AM  

  • The post isn’t about legal tinkering nor is it about you per se. I don’t have a special interest in this case, and I won’t develop one, scout’s honour. There will be no reading of legal documents for me (although I did check out those unbiased blogs and websites that you run, but just for a second or two).

    What caught my eye in this case was the quote by you (“Somebody broke into my brain.”) and the general idea of plagiarism and copyright. The quote was funny, and now that you are here I must take the opportunity to ask you how he exactly managed to break into your head. I think of four possibilities:

    1. Technology. Now I don’t really think technology like the one William Gibson describe in Johnny Mnemonic is available yet, but had it been then Brown would have had the tools to actually hack into your brain and extract the information. Not really plausible maybe but after seeing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” it no longer feels entirely unthinkable. Brown might have some contacts at MIT or within the government, who knows. Super hi-tech might be the answer.
    2. Drugs. Truth serum and mind-altering drugs might have been used; after the fall of the Berlin Wall former KGB and Stasi operatives have all gone freelance. As we all know the communist states of Eastern Europe were all experts on “breaking into” peoples’ brains and extracting information. If you have a black out covering a few days, then this might be the case. Remember, they might have reprogrammed fake memories into your brain, like they did to those poor clones on “The Island”. You might believe that the black out comes from a heavy night of drinking, don’t let that fool you. You may have been kidnapped!
    3. Psychic powers. I’ve heard about people with really strange and scary powers. They have the power to read peoples’ minds. They sneak in and even take control over it. I saw this documentary called “X-Men”, there was this bald guy, he was a professor (of something I don’t remember what) and I started thinking, isn’t Brown also a professor? Maybe he got those powers too. That could be the way he did it.
    4. Money. No, no, no, I’m not say he bought his way into you brain. I’m just thinking that (this is so silly really) he might have bought the books and read them. “Wow,” he might have thought, “this shit is the bomb!” And then started doing research of his own, inspired by your work, coming up with a new way to tell the story once again. Letting you your output be his input, the way you probably read something that got your brain working, the way all art and culture is born. The re-telling of stories is what storytelling is all about. Like you said, you don’t claim that you came up with the ideas, plot or any of those general things. Stealing, well, only if he shoplifted the book.

    Maybe, and this is my very humble proposition, you should sit down and really study The Da Vinci Code and try to find out what made that book sell enormously well. This might be more fruitful than doing the Don Quixote all day and night. Perhaps Brown is in some way better in the craft of writing bestseller, maybe you can learn. Now I haven’t read your book, and quite frankly I'm not going to, aminly because I believe you when you say that your books are similar. And since The Da Vinci Code kind of sucked - poor plotting, bad language, uninteresting “quasi-provocative” ideas, flat characters etc. I don’t see the point in reading it all over again. The Da Vinci Code only had one forgiving trait and that is its bestseller aspect. It was good popcorn. And this is a trait that your books, judging from the comparably low sales numbers and lack of international recognition, don’t have. But what do I know; they might not be that similar after all.

    But you must understand I wish you all the best in you fight against Dan Brown. I hope you win and get a ton of money. Not because I necessarily believe that you deserve it more anybody else, it’s just everybody deserves a ton of money.

    Keep on trucking!

    By Blogger thomas, at August 09, 2005 2:07 PM  

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