May 10, 2005

The Dan Brown Beat

With Geoff Pullum understandably distracted by the activities of the religious fanatics in Kansas, it looks like it falls to me to take up the slack on the Dan Brown beat. A Mr. Lewis Perdue is claiming that The Da Vinci Code improperly draws on his novels Daughter of God and The Da Vinci Legacy. In response to his claim, much-maligned author Dan Brown and his publisher, Random House, have sued for a declaratory judgment that The Da Vinci Code did not infringe Perdue's copyrights. Mr. Perdue has countersued, adding as defendants divisions of Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures that are at work on a movie based on the book.

A good deal of information about the dispute is available. Lewis Perdue's web site has links to many of the legal documents as well as reviews of his books and other relevant material. He's also got a blog. This case seems likely to prove a good deal more entertaining than The Da Vinci Code itself.

Part of the basis for Perdue's case is a comparison between The Da Vinci Code and Lewis Perdue's books by the Forensic Linguistic Institute. The report presents quite a few similarities between Brown's book and Perdue's, but I was disappointed, in light of the name of the Institute, to find that there are no linguistic similarities. Not having read any of Mr. Perdue's books I can't say for sure, but it may well be that he can take comfort in this. The lack of notable linguistic similarities could be due to Perdue being a better writer.

According to Saturday's New York Times (B11), Judge George B. Daniels has acceeded to the urgings of the lawyers for both parties to read the three books at issue in their entirety rather than relying on the excerpts in the court filings. I'm sure that I speak for all of us at Language Log in wishing iron-boweled Judge Daniels the best of luck in surviving the ordeal to which he has submitted himself.

Posted by Bill Poser at May 10, 2005 02:38 AM