More on Dan Brown.
Slate’s recent article, “The Dan Brown Code – In a court filing, the best-selling author of The Da Vinci Code reveals all the secrets of a pulp novelist,” by Bryan Curtis, offers some interesting insight into the mind of a failed songwriter turned bestselling author. It also makes for some amusing reading.
The authors of Holy Grail chose to make claims to truthâ€”and while that gives their book a certain rhetorical power, it should also mean their work loses much legal protection. When copyright starts saying you can’t borrow claims to truth, it stops helping and starts hurting all authors.
Let’s start at the beginning. One of the basic principles of copyright law is that you can’t copyright historical facts, though you can own how you express those facts. Say you write the first article ever saying that John F. Kennedy had Addison’s disease (a fact). If the law says that you now own that fact, almost anyone who wants to write about Kennedy’s life or illnesses needs your permission. That’s a broad right, one that’s not just a damper on future scholarship and authorship but possibly a damper on that fact itselfâ€”you might, for example, be a Kennedy loyalist who wants to keep his disease secret forever.
It also appears, from the article, that the British courts have a different take on the copyright issue than American courts. Evidently, borrowing ideas from material presented as fact is okay unless you borrow too many of those ideas. What?