I checked RFC (Recently Filed Cases) Express and found that Stephen Mitchell v. Wayne Dyer, P.H.D et al was filed on Monday, May 24 in California Central District Court. The "et al" in the defendant description includes Hay House, a publisher that specializes in New Age and self-help books.
According to THR, Esq., The basis of the lawsuit is Stephen Mitchell's claim that Dyer "'copied verbatim a significant portion' of his interpretation of the ancient Taoist scripture Tao Te Ching in two separate books."
The books in question are Dyer's p-books and e-books titled Living the Wisdom of the Tao and Change Your Thoughts--Change Your Life.
Mitchell is a well known translator and interpreter of ancient texts, most notably the Chinese Tao Te Ching. According to Wikipedia:
The Tao Te Ching has been translated into Western languages over 250 times ... According to Holmes Welch, "It is a famous puzzle which everyone would like to feel he had solved."Of course, the key point here is that Mitchell's translation represents his unique interpretation of the Tao Te Ching. If Dyer copied Mitchell's text verbatim, he is probably going to have some difficulty in a copyright infringement case.
Many translations are written by people with a foundation in Chinese language and philosophy who are trying to render the original meaning of the text as faithfully as possible into English. Some of the more popular translations are written from a less scholarly perspective, giving an individual author's interpretation. Critics of these versions, such as Taoism scholar Eugene Eoyang, claim that translators like Stephen Mitchell produce readings of the Tao Te Ching that deviate from the text and are incompatible with the history of Chinese thought.
Writers are familiar with the U.S. Copyright law's Fair Use test. The test has four factors which determine whether the use of another artist's work qualifies as fair use. Those four factors are:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;Under the second factor above, if the artist creating a derivative work "transforms" the original work into something new and different, he has a better chance of winning a fair use case.
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Go here to read The Hollywood Reporter's article.
Stay tuned ...