This morning on the "Today" show , a reporter said something about how if the guys suing Dan Brown over their material maybe being ripped off in "The DaVinci Code" won their court case, it would "rock the publishing world." (That last bit sounds better if you read it in an ominous voiceover while show B-roll footage of stacks of the book in a major book store).
Of course, that's the where the story ended. So I'm wondering, just what kind of an impact would it have on publishing if Brown lost? Given the recent brouhaha about James Frey, does that make the Brown case any more significant?
In a nutshell it would mean you can sue for using non fiction 'facts' as the source of a novel. If someone wrote a book explaining Miss Snark is the bee's knees, and you wrote a novel about a literary agent with beeswax kneecaps, you'd be vulnerable. Doesn't take even an ominous Today show voiceover to make that sound scary.
The Frey case is a totally separate legal issue. And publishing is always having fun like this. It's like a more expensive version of croquet...lots of ball whacking, sticky wickets, and people standing around pining for the good old days when no one whacked you out of bounds.