Monday, December 27, 2004

The Holy Blood and The Holy Mole Poop


An inspiring tale for our times
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To write a best-selling work of fiction many authors will spend years observing the human condition. In their minds they will weave intricate plots and sub plots to delight and entertain their readers. They will write 200,000 words or more of skilfully crafted prose. Fascinating and compelling characters will be conjured up and a tangible sense of place magically communicated through the simple medium of paper and ink.
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Alternatively, they could write an illustrated children's story about a mole with a dog turd on its head.

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Yes, The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business.

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Eat your long-dead hearts out, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.
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I have never heard of this book before yesterday, when someone gave a copy to my little niece. This was a 10th anniversary edition of the 'much loved children's story that has sold over a million copies world wide'.

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The book tells the heart warming story of a mole who wakes up with a pile of poo on his head. The mole goes on a quest to find out who did this to him by comparing the poo on his head with poo from a variety of new animal friends he meets on his travels. This classic tale reaches its thrilling climax when the little mole eventually discovers that he is wearing a hat made from dog turd.

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I hope I haven’t spoiled it for anyone by giving away the ending.

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Earlier on in my blogging career someone, from the Mid West of America I think, made a comment that I should try and use the word poop rather than shit in my blogs. I've compromised by using the word turd as often as I can instead. I appreciate that some people who run into my blog may still find my chosen word offensive and skip away from my blog as a consequence. Which would be a shame.

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It's only a word though. I do find it strange that someone can publish a book about animal shit and illustrate each page with different pictures of cute animals taking a dump and get away with it. The secret is to use euphemisms like 'business' or 'poop' and no-one seems to mind. Reviewers on Amazon love it …
The last time I came across an author becoming a millionaire through writing about turd was, of course, Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code.
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A gang stole £22m from a bank in Ireland last week and I remember thinking 'Dan Brown has escaped with four times that much money and he isn’t even being hunted by the police'.
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The good news is that he is being sued by the authors of the books he most shamelessly plagiarised in coming up with his Masterpoop.

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By my reckoning, Brown lifted material wholesale from three books in particular. He arguably stole plot elements from Lewis Perdue's not very good novels The Da Vinci Legacy and The Daughter of God and DEFINITELY ripped off all of his 'meticulous background research' from Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh's The Holy Blood and Holy Grail.

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Leigh and Baigent's solicitors are currently sharpening their knives. There is much wrong with The Holy Blood and Holy Grail and amusingly Dan Brown has copied material from the earlier book without realising that much has been discredited by subsequent research. If Brown had done a simple Google search before copying wholesale chunks out of THBTHG it might not now be so blatantly obvious who he was ripping off. He is onto such a loser.

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It will also be interesting to find out how Brown explains away the fact that the key baddie in his novel is called Leigh Teabing. The name Leigh Teabing is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent while his physical description, he walks with the aid of crutches, is presumably based on the third author, Henry Lincoln, who walks with a limp.

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Once that case is over I hope someone else takes out a follow-up class action on behalf of the English language for severe and unjustifiable adjective and adverb abuse. It’s not just children and animals, words have feelings too.

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7 comments:

Lewis Perdue said...

I thought you might be interested to know that my response and counterclaims against Random House, Dan Brown, Columbia Pictures and others regarding The Da Vinci Code and my copyrights were filed Monday, Dec. 20, 2004 in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and an amended version on Thursday, Jan 6, 2005.

The filing is on file with the clerk's office and available from the PACER online system (for those who have an account) and is available at http://www.davincilegacy.com/Infringement/

For what it's worth, Da Vinci Legacy is not my best book ... fortunately I write better than I did 21 years ago. If you have some time, try Daughter of God or Slatewiper ... both a lot better.

Stef said...

Aaaaah, I hate this when it happens

Some years ago I wrote on a web page that photographer Bill Eggleston's pictures were rubbish. Then, more than a year later, I get an email from Bill Eggleston who appears to be a very decent chap indeed.

Please excuse me. I didn't say your book was rubbish, just not very good. I could have gone on to say that it is considerably less annoying and more original than that other book, which I loathe so much.

Also, you're published, which is about 5 billion light years from where I'm sitting. Kudos.

I wish you the very best of fortune in your case. It's hard to see how an impartial individual could not pick up on the blatant plagiary, but who ever said the World was fair?

That's one of the aspects of the success of the Da Vinci Code that has left me puzzled. Several other authors have covered this material before and had nothing like the success of that book. I've heard many people say 'Dan Brown's book isn;t that well written but it's full of interesting ideas'. Yes, ideas that have been out there for 20 years or more.

It must all be down to marketing and that's a very depressing thought.

Lewis Perdue said...

Never, ever apologize for an honest opinion! Nobody's book is ever loved by everybody ... and I think a few of my earlier ones ARE rubbish.

Stef said...

Oops sorry ...

I couldn't resist that one ;-)

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that gives us all hope. In fairness to myself (!), I only softened my stated opinion slightly because, on reflection, it was unduly harsh. If Dan Brown were to leave a friendly post on my blog, no, I wouldn't change my stated opinion on that guy's work.

I was incensed when I read a borrowed copy of The Da Vinci Code and felt ripped-off, even though a) I hadn't bought it and b) It wasn't me he was lifting material from.

Anyway, I sincerely wish you (and the other people) taking action the very best of luck. To my mind there's a world of difference between being inspired by others' work and lifting from them bodily; though I haven't the foggiest how that can be proven in court.

Lewis Perdue said...

"... I haven't the foggiest how that can be proven in court."

I have a foggy idea, but that's about as good as it gets.

The estimates from a broad spectrum of copyright lawyers is that a case like mine will be decided about 30% on the facts of the issue and 70% on the "lawyering" and luck (or its lack) of the draw on the judge and how s/he feels on a given day.

In other words, no matter how good a case like mine may be on the facts, the irrational, fuzzy elements are more important.

When Kafka wrote "The Trial" he had no idea that things could get even weirder.

Stef said...

The odds are as good as that?

I read The Trial fairly early in life, about 12 I think. Now that I'm older, I appreciate that it is a metaphor about life but I first read it literally and it works pretty good on that level as well.

The prospect of dealing with lawyers always turns my blood cold and they have never failed to meet my expectations. But what can you do ...

Lewis Perdue said...

The Da Vinci Code Decision

About this Dan Brown thing: He won a round, but 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.