Da Vinci Code idea ‘in public domain’

Two British-based writers who claim that Dan Brown, the Da Vinci Code author, stole their ideas for his novel have repeatedly made “spurious and bogus” allegations, the High Court was told yesterday.

Michael Baigent, 57, and Richard Leigh, 62, allege that the central premise of the book, which has sold 40 million copies, was cannibalised from their work Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, published more than 20 years earlier.

They say that their “central theme”, namely that Jesus had a child whose descendants live on in France, was plagiarised for the Da Vinci Code and are suing Random House, its British publisher.

But yesterday John Baldwin, QC, for the publisher, said that much of their allegations, which he said had changed over the course of the court case, were “spurious and bogus”.

“Many of the ideas complained of are not even in both books, some are not even in either, so they cannot possibly have been copied from one to the other.

“In the main, the ideas complained of were not original to HBHG anyway.”

Mr Baldwin added that the law of copyright did not protect general ideas and that any similar themes in both books were in the public domain and known to Brown before he read Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. “We say the claim relies on and seeks to monopolise ideas at such a high level of generality they are not protected by copyright.

The Da Vinci Code

So error-laden is The Da Vinci Code that the educated reader actually applauds those rare occasions where Brown stumbles (despite himself) into the truth. […] In the end, Dan Brown has penned a poorly written, atrociously researched mess.
Source: Dismantling The Da Vinci Code By Sandra Miesel, Crisis, Sep. 1, 2003

“The authors are seeking to monopolise information which is already in the public domain.”

Mr Baldwin said that Brown had written the synopsis to the Da Vinci Code before he even read Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and that he had based his ideas on a number of different text books.

He said that one theme complained of – namely that the objective of the secret group the Priory of Sion was to restore Christ’s descendants to the thrones of Europe – did not even appear in Brown’s novel.

“It is our case that this suggestion that the central theme [of the Da Vinci Code] is a synopsis or summary of the full contents of HBHG is demonstrably false,” he added.

He said one of the main differences between the themes of the novel and the non-fiction work was the treatment of the crucifixion of Christ, which Holy Blood and Holy Grail said was faked and that Jesus lived on.

“It is an important element in the book but has no part in the Da Vinci Code,” he said.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Times Online, UK
Mar. 1, 2006
Richard Alleyne

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday March 1, 2006.
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