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Monday, February 27, 2006



You know, one of the most frustrating things is watching the erosion of basic terms like "Christian" or even "Catholic". Everyone wants them to mean what they want them to mean...

Half of the time if I run into someone identifying themselves as "Christian", I have to play 20 questions to figure out which subset of gnostic/neopagan/materialist subcultures they belong to. Of course they all think they're "rediscovering authentic Christianity".

little gidding

That misappropriation has been going on since Arius--or Valentinus--or maybe Simon Magus.


I would assert that Baigent and Leigh stand a good chance of winning this breach of copyright law in the High Court. I will fess up to having read both these books in my time and the first thing that struck me on opening Dan Brown was a certain sense of deja vu.

The Judge today asked the question of the plaintiffs counsel; what would they ask him to do if he finds in their favour? Do they expect him to order the pulping of every copy of TDVC in the world? Stop the Sony Corporation from releasing their movie (probably only has the juristiction to stop distribution in Uk/possibly Europe). Well, it is a possibility.


gidding: I guess that's true. Also c.f. the connections Carl drew in the "Vatican-free Catholic" thread.


Out of curiousity, does anyone know if there are court transcripts available anywhere?

Patricia Gonzalez

A "committed" Christian, eh? To which psychiatric hospital, I wonder ...

reluctant penitent

When the HBHG authors accuse Borwn of plagiarism, aren't they admitting by implication that HBHG was a work of fiction? Can one 'plagiarise' historical facts?

Carl Olson

When the HBHG authors accuse Borwn of plagiarism, aren't they admitting by implication that HBHG was a work of fiction? Can one 'plagiarise' historical facts?

Plagiarism isn't limited to a genre, but there does seem to be some question about (for lack of better term) cross-genre plagiarism. It really comes down to the specific laws in England. From what I understand, plagiarism laws differ quite a bit from country to country. The main issue is that of ownership of an idea, which is, obviously, hard to nail down in some cases.

Cristina A. Montes

I don't know what the British copyright law is, but assuming it's the same as ours here in the Philippines, ideas in themselves aren't copyrighted. Only the manner of expressing such ideas are. Progress itself would come to a standstill if ideas and discoveries were copyrighted, because no one would be able to build on the ideas of others. (Of course, i'm only talking about copyright. Not about other intellectual property rights such as trademarks and patents).

Carl Olson

Wikipedia states (

Copyright (international symbol: ©) is a set of exclusive rights granted by governments to regulate the use of a particular expression of an idea or information. At its most general, it is literally "the right to copy" an original creation. In most cases, these rights are of limited duration. Copyright may subsist in a wide range of creative or artistic forms or "works". These include poems, plays, and other literary works, movies, choreographic works (dances, ballets, etc.), musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, software, radio and television broadcasts of live and other performances, and in some jurisdictions industrial designs. Copyright is a type of intellectual property; designs or industrial designs may be a separate or overlapping form of intellectual property in some jurisdictions. Copyright law covers only the particular form or manner in which ideas or information have been manifested, the "form of material expression". It is not designed or intended to cover the actual idea, concepts, facts, styles, or techniques which may be embodied in or represented by the copyright work. Copyright law provides scope for satirical or interpretive works which themselves may be copyrighted. See idea-expression divide. ...

British law states that an individual's work is placed under copyright law as soon as it leaves that person's mind and is placed in some physical form, be it a painting, a musical work written in manuscript or an architectural schematic. Once in physical form, as long as it is an original work (in the sense of not having been copied from an existing work, rather than in the sense of being novel or unique), copyright in that work is automatically vested in (i.e. owned by) the person who put the concept into material form. There may be exceptions to this rule, depending on the nature of the work, whether it was created in the course of employment and the purposes for which the work was created."

And so on. No wonder I passed on law school. Anyhow, if the issue is the "form of expression," I'd say the HBHG authors have a decent case. See my article, "The Da Vinci Code’s Sources: Did Dan Brown Really Borrow From Holy Blood, Holy Grail?":

Cristina A. Montes

Excerpts from an opinion by the Philippine Supreme Court (Habana v. Robles, G.R. No. 131522. July 19, 1999. The case involves two English textbooks):

"When is there a substantial reproduction of a book? It does not necessarily require that the entire copyrighted work, or even a large portion of it, be copied. If so much is taken that the value of the original work is substantially diminished, there is an infringement of copyright and to an injurious extent, the work is appropriated.

In determining the question of infringement, the amount of matter copied from the copyrighted work is an important consideration. To constitute infringement, it is not necessary that the whole or even a large portion of the work shall have been copied. If so much is taken that the value of the original is sensibly diminished, or the labors of the original author are substantially and to an injurious extent appropriated by another, that is sufficient in point of law to constitute piracy.

The essence of intellectual piracy should be essayed in conceptual terms in order to underscore its gravity by an appropriate understanding thereof. Infringement of a copyright is a trespass on a private domain owned and occupied by the owner of the copyright, and, therefore, protected by law, and infringement of copyright, or piracy, which is a synonymous term in this connection, consists in the doing by any person, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, of anything the sole right to do which is conferred by statute on the owner of the copyright."


"In cases of infringement, copying alone is not what is prohibited. The copying must produce an “injurious effect”. Here, the injury consists in that respondent Robles lifted from petitioners’ book materials that were the result of the latter’s research work and compilation and misrepresented them as her own. She circulated the book DEP for commercial use and did not acknowledge petitioners as her source.

Hence, there is a clear case of appropriation of copyrighted work for her benefit that respondent Robles committed. Petitioners’ work as authors is the product of their long and assiduous research and for another to represent it as her own is injury enough. In copyrighting books the purpose is to give protection to the intellectual product of an author. This is precisely what the law on copyright protected, under Section 184.1 (b). Quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified by the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries are allowed provided that the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned.

In the case at bar, the least that respondent Robles could have done was to acknowledge petitioners Habana et. al. as the source of the portions of DEP ["Developing English Proficiency"]. The final product of an author’s toil is her book. To allow another to copy the book without appropriate acknowledgment is injury enough."

But there was a dissenting opinion. Summed up, the dissent said that the similarities between the two books in the case can be explained by the fact that they are both English textbooks and English textbooks have standard contents, both books used the same sources, similarity between styles could be explained by the similar professional backgrounds of the authors, and in any case, findings of fact of the lower courts are supposed to be accorded great respect by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, "ROBLES' [the defendant] testimony that she made an independent investigation or research of the original works or authors she consulted was unrebutted; for germane here is the question of whether the alleged infringer could have obtained the same information by going to the same source by her own independent research."

El Perro Patron

Uh oh, Brown might not buy the official, Catholic establish views on the Christ. He must be a dangerous heretic.

Damn this modern era when we can no longer torture, burn and drown heretics.

Its really a shame that a man who writes a book of historical fiction that purports a view that we don't agree with can't be sentenced to a Fatwah like Salman Rushdie was.

Oh well, at least a guy like Carl can attempt to cash in on the paranoia of others by hawking a book that "debunks" a fictional novel.

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