Writers lose Da Vinci Code fight

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LONDON, England (AP) — Author Dan Brown won his copyright infringement case Wednesday, after Britain’s Court of Appeal rejected efforts from two authors who claimed he stole their ideas for his blockbuster novel, “The Da Vinci Code.”

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote “The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail,” now face legal bills of about $6 million after losing their appeal against publisher Random House.

Baigent and Leigh had argued that Brown stole significant elements from their book. Both are based on a theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child, and that the bloodline continues to this day.

The lawyers said Baigent and Leigh had “expended a vast amount of skill and labor” in writing their book, first published in 1982. “That skill and labor is protectable.”

Brown testified for several days during the High Court hearing last year.

The claimants’ lawyer, Jonathan Rayner James, said that although the suit had been against the publisher rather than the author, Brown was really the one being put on trial for his work.


During a hearing earlier this year, Rayner James said issues remained about the role of Brown’s wife, Blythe Brown, who did much of the original research for the blockbuster novel.

She did not testify at the High Court hearing. Brown said he wanted to protect his wife from publicity.

In April, Justice Peter Smith ruled that Random House, publisher of “The Da Vinci Code,” had not breached the copyright. Smith said the claim was based on a “selective number of facts and ideas artificially taken out of (the book) for the purpose of the litigation.”

“The Da Vinci Code” has sold more than 40 million copies since its release in March 2003. A film version starring Tom Hanks was released last year.

“The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” also was published by Random House. It was a best-seller when released 20 years ago.

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AP, via CNN, USA
Mar. 28, 2007
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This post was last updated: Mar. 28, 2007