One of the world’s highest-paid authors, Dan Brown, is being challenged by two men who claim he stole their ideas for his blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code.
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing their own publishers, Random House, claiming the international successful novel lifts from their 1982 book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, itself a best seller.
This non-fiction work deals with theories that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married, had a child, and the blood line continues to this day – with the Catholic Church trying suppress the discovery.
It is similar to the theme explored in the Dan Brown novel which won best book at last year’s British Book Awards and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, earning the author ?45 million in one year.
If the two writers are successful and opt to take injunctions stopping use of their material, it could threaten the British release of the film adaptation of the novel, starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen, which is scheduled to open on May 19.
The case, expected to last up to two weeks if there is no settlement in the meantime, is also likely to clarify existing copyright laws over the extent to which an author can use other people’s research.
Dan Brown acknowledges the theories of The Holy Blood in his novel and names the villain in his story Sir Leigh Teabing, which, it has been suggested, was a deliberate part anagram of the surnames of the authors of the earlier work.
The two books – which deal with parallel versions of the fate of Jesus Christ – have now ended up in the Chancery Division of the High Court for a battle over the huge financial returns both have generated by their success.
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