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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lawsuit Brought Against Random House and Dan Brown: A Case of Intellectual Theft, or Simple Jealousy ?

A trial began in England Monday as the result of a lawsuit brought against Random House, publisher of the controversial bestseller The Da Vinci Code, by American author Dan Brown.

Two British authors, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, allege that Brown lifted a substantial amount of information and the principal theme from their 1982 nonfiction book The Holy Blood and Holy Grail, also published by Random House.

The lawsuit could potentially affect future sales of The Da Vinci Code and halt the release of its film counterpart, scheduled to open at the Cannes Film Festival in May and open in theatres shortly after.

Though Brown admitted using Holy Blood as one of many historical references for his work, he
has denied that Baigent and Leigh's ideas served as the basis for the central theme for The Da Vinci Code.

Both books present the controversial idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child. However, the stark difference between both books is that Holy Blood, a nonfiction book, proposes the theory that Jesus did not suffer crucifixion and instead lived the rest of his days in France.

Is it possible that Baigent and Leigh are simply irked by the fact that their book wasn't as popular 25 years after it was published, and Brown was successful in popularizing ideas that weren't even theirs to begin with ?

If anything, they should be thankful. A reporter in an E! Online report said that the attention brought to the British authors by the lawsuit has catapulted their book to number nine on the Amazon top sellers slot, only five slots beneath The Da Vinci Code.

Also, the British media have pointed out that Leigh Teabing, a character in Brown's book, is an anagram of Baigent and Leigh's names. But should they be irritated by this, or should they be flattered at the possibility that Brown was paying tribute to their contributions to his fictional religious thriller ?

If Brown has to make any concessions as a result of this lawsuit, it should not affect the release of the motion picture later this year. There is no reason why the public should be deprived of one of the year's most eagerly anticipated films because of a ill-inspired courtroom spat brought on by two men that reek of fear of becoming irrelevant (as if their wacky ideas do not already affect their credibility).

If anything, a reasonable settlement would be for Brown to include a list of references that he used in writing his book, emphasizing the importance of Holy Grail. Perhaps that would placate Baigent and Leigh. However, if they were to ask for anything more, it would only reveal their true motivation and pathetic nature of their lawsuit.

Their case may be strong in the sense that the books share similar ideas. Nevertheless, it does not erase the fact that the idea of a married and procreating Christ was not theirs to begin with.

References and further reading:

E! Online: "Da Vinci Code" Opened in Court

Reuters: Dan Brown in court for Da Vinci Code copying case

Kornbus adds:

"This isnt a whole lot different from Check Wepner trying to sue Sylvester Stallone a few years back because Stallone watched Wepner fight (Muhammad) Ali and (he believed) that's how he got the idea for Rocky.

Wepner was just pissed because he wasn't important anymore. Stallone had made millions. But it's not like Stallone plagiarized Wepner's life story. He simply watched a fight and got an idea. You can't sue someone for that."

Technorati Tags: DogSpunk, Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Holy Blood, Holy Grail,
Holy Blood and Holy Grail, Jesus, Christ, , Mary Magdalene, Leigh Teabing, lawsuit, Court Case, Random House

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