Literary Artists, Historical Researchers and the History Commons: Conflicting Expectations of Use and Attribution in the Da Vinci Code Case
To characterise the English case of Baigent and Leigh v The Random House Group Ltd (The Da Vinci Code Case) as an ill-devised attempt to seek protection for ideas and information in the ‘History Commons’ and the result a triumph for the free flow of information, is to misunderstand the scope of copyright law and the intersection between it and the wider rules of plagiarism. Rather than a triumphant, principled attempt by the courts to limit what some see as the over-inflated scope of copyright protection, the case leaves many of the crucial issues unresolved. The paper explores the Da Vinci Code Case; what it says and what questions remain about the conflicting expectations of literary artists and historical researchers as to reliance on earlier texts and the need for attribution. Should the rules be different for works of ‘faction’?
Keywords: Da Vinci Code Case, copyright, plagiarism
Lecturer, School of Business, University of Sydney