(CN) – A translator of the Tao Te Ching claims that self-help guru Wayne Dyer, who rose to fame in 1976 with his best-selling “Your Erroneous Zones,” lifted more than 200 lines of his work in two recent books sold in print, audio downloads for Kindle and iPhone, and in spinoff products such as calendars.
In his complaint in Los Angeles Federal Court, Stephen Mitchell says he spent 14 years producing his “interpretation” of Lao-Tzu’s book, which he published, and copyrighted, as “Tao Te Ching: A New English Version.”
Mitchell claims Dyer “copied verbatim a significant portion Mitchell’s book” in two recent books, both published by co-defendant Hay House: “Living the Wisdom of the Tao” and “Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life,” and in “a number of spinoff products ranging from wall calendars to iPod applications.”
Mitchell says his Tao Te Ching “is famous and beloved” and has sold more than 900,000 copies. His other translations include “The Gospel According to Jesus,” which he translated from Greek, translations of Rilke from German and Neruda from Spanish, according to the complaint.
Mitchell says he “has also written interpretive versions of works in Chinese, Sanskrit and Akkadian.” He says that for his Tao Te Ching, which he apparently translated from other translations, he spent 14 year “immers(ing) himself in intensive Zen training, which gave him a special, experiential insight into Law-tzu’s wisdom.”
“The book embodies language that conveys Mitchell’s vision of Lao-tzu’s meaning and the spirit of his teaching,” the complaint states. “Some of the book’s chapters expand on the literal translation; some chapters are Mitchell’s original improvisations on Lao-tzu’s theme. Accordingly, Mitchell’s book is a highly original work.”
Mitchell claims that Dyer has sold at least 64,000 paperback copies of “Living the Wisdom of the Tao,” and 500,000 hardcover copies of “Change Your Thoughts.”
He seeks an injunction to block the continued infringement of his copyright, unspecified damages and disgorgement of profits gained from his “time, energy, hard work, and creativity.”
He is represented by Bryan Freedman and Jesse Kaplan with Freedman & Taitelman of Los Angeles.