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Da Vinci victory for Dan Brown and Random House


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Da Vinci victory for Dan Brown and Random House

Last Updated Fri, 07 Apr 2006 10:00:49 EDT

CBC News

A judge in Britain has rejected the claim that Dan Brown copied ideas when he wrote the best-selling book The Da Vinci Code.

High Court justice Peter Smith ruled Friday in a London courtroom on the controversial lawsuit.

"Today's verdict shows that this claim was utterly without merit. I'm still astonished that these two authors chose to file their suit at all," Brown said in a statement, adding that he was "eager to get back to writing."

"I'm pleased with today's outcome, not only from a personal standpoint but also as a novelist," he said.

Brown was accused of infringing copyright by two historians who wrote the non-fiction book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh sued Random House, publisher of The Da Vinci Code. They claimed Brown had stolen "the whole architecture" of his novel from their work.

Both books explore the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, they had children and their bloodline survives to this day.

The theory, dismissed by theologians, caught the imagination of millions of readers in Brown's fast-paced mystery novel.

Authors and publishers were watching the case closely, because the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail – called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail in its most recent, illustrated publication – were testing a fundamental principle of copyright.

They had not claimed Brown copied passages from their work; instead, they were trying to retain copyright over their ideas. If the judge had ruled in their favour, it would have set a precedent.

"A victory for Leigh and Baigent would make it very difficult for novelists, particularly historical novelists," said Fiona Crawley, a copyright expert with law firm Bryan Cave LLP.

"They go to source books to research the history to incorporate into their novel," she said in an interview with the Associated Press. "It would call into question how they can research a historical novel without being accused of copyright infringement by the historian who has written the key work on that incident in history."

During the trial, Brown testified that he did consult Holy Blood, Holy Grail when writing the book, but said it was just one of many books he used.

The publicity shy author said his wife, Blythe, did much of the preliminary research.

In making his ruling, Judge Smith read both books and heard two weeks of esoteric testimony about subjects such as the founding of the Knights Templar and evolution of the Merovingian dynasty, Jesus' supposed bloodline.

The Da Vinci Code has sold 40 million copies around the world and was released in paperback in North America just last week. A movie, starring Tom Hanks, is to be released in May.

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Guest Low Roller

In related news I've seen a new edition of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" in every bookstore and news stand in England.

Brilliant marketing if you ask me.

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Baigent also has a new one out: The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History. This article (you may have to watch an on-line ad to read it) at Salon wasn't very praising of it:

Baigent himself can't rustle up any sufficiently sensational new allegations to fling before the public eye, and in "The Jesus Papers" has to resort to reheating leftovers from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." In a way, the copyright infringement lawsuit Baigent and fellow "Grail" co-author Michael Leigh recently filed against Brown in a British court shows more creativity than anything printed on the pages of the new book.

Aloha,

Brad

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I'm almost finishing reading The Da Vinci Code right now and I'm loving it! I've never heard any of these ideas before. Pretty cool stuff. I guess theres a movie coming out too eh? Tom Hanks plays the main guy, and the girl from Amelie plays Sophie.

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I felt the novel was good but not great. It just amazes me how many people continue to forget that the novel was a fictional tale and try to make a big controversy over it. Im sure the movie will generate millions of dollars and have even more people believing it is historically accurate

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I'm still putting off reading the book, though I'm not quite sure why; partly it's having had too many people tell me the plot, partly it's thinking I'll be comparing it with Foucault's Pendulum (a masterpiece on conspiracy, imo) and expecting it to come up short. I suppose I oughta, though, for a variety of reasons. Hell, I made myself sit through The Passion for worse reasons.

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Doc, read "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" first. It presents the main concepts from an investigative/informing/trying-to-persuade-you point of view. Then go read the criticisms of HB,HG. After that, "The da Vinci Code" can be read as a straight-up chase-scene/conspiracy romp.

Aloha,

Brad

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I don't know, I've been reading the Da Vinci Code coming from no background, I've never heard these theories before, and basically thats been the best part of the book! Sure the chases and stuff are exciting but the really exciting parts of this book is all the symbolism and all those crazy theories and the info on the Knights Templar and all that stuff, I've never heard any of it before and thats what I'm getting out of the book, making it really exciting. The fact that it wasn't made up by Dan Brown but is actually well documented (allegedly) makes it really interesting.

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KevO, are you hearing any of this? I just saw this story now. I suppose somebody had to work themselves up to a lather over the impending movie; Korean Christians seem a likely lot, from what I understand.

Korean churches urge ban on "DaVinci Code" film

I love this bit -

"The movie will severely infringe on individual's religious beliefs and will be an obstacle to the Christian church's missionary work," the Korean group said.

It stuns me that works that present themselves as pieces of fiction (Harry Potter being my other favourite example) give rise to such panic - and makes people put so much into doubt other people's ability to judge things for themselves.

Control freaks.

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:) - I'd started to forget that one - thanks for reminding me, as we're talking about censorship in class tonight and it'll make a great example.

It reminds me of that book from the 1950s, When Prophecy Fails, which coined the expression "cognitive dissonance" - it was a study of a UFO cult and how they dealt with things when reality didn't line up with the way they were presenting the world to themselves (in that case, where dates came and went without event). One of the key strategies was to get out and proselytise, the idea being that if they felt themselves able to convince others, then their worldview must be true. Can't reshape reality when it challenges you with difficult evidence or ideas? Shape other people's perceptions of reality.

Or in this case, militate for a ban so that nobody need be troubled with difficult ideas (difficult for their purposes of fixing everyone within one worldview).

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KevO, are you hearing any of this? I just saw this story now. I suppose somebody had to work themselves up to a lather over the impending movie; Korean Christians seem a likely lot, from what I understand.

I heard about this but haven't talked about it at all yet. I'm gonna bring it up at work with some of my Catholic devout Korean co-workers, see what they say. I'm also just getting to the end of this book right now.

One thing to realize is that the article is only about a church group attempting to get the movie banned; its not necessarily going to happen. Apparently though are ads up for this movie in malls and on buses. I'd be surprised if it actually got banned. That said though, there are a LOT of devout Christians here, and they are quite traditional compared to the Christians I know in Canada. More than a few of my co-workers go to Sunday School every Sunday. They'll spend a good part of the afternoon with their church group, its quite common.

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