Sunday, March 26, 2006

Philly Inquirer on Da Vinci mess: "Copying one author is plagiarism. Copying many is research."

Rogak on Dan Brown: The untold secret in the U.K. breach of copyright suit against Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown is that this isn't the first time he's borrowed someone else's ideas for his own work. He's done it his entire life.
He got the idea for his first novel, Digital Fortress, when teaching English at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. One day, the Secret Service showed up on campus hours after a student sent an e-mail threatening President Clinton's life. Brown built an entire book around it. The kid could rightly sue. After all, Brown eventually made a pile of money from it.

She concludes:
Nor did Baigent and Leigh pluck the premise for Holy Blood, Holy Grail out of thin air - it's been bandied about for centuries. No one - artist or not - lives in a vacuum. We learn from and are inspired by the ideas of others, which we then absorb and convert into our own. Then someday, someone else will, we hope, likewise be inspired by our ideas.
Perhaps Chilean novelist Isabel Allende said it best in her book Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses: "Copying one author is plagiarism. Copying many is research."


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