The Da Vinci author in court

DaVinciCode.jpgI’ve said it again and again, on this site, my own and to friends. The book that is behind the forthcoming movie The Da Vinci Code rips everything related to the Church and the conspiracy from a previous book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, and the authors agree. After some intensive study (and possibly the allure of all the media attention) the BBC report that they’re fighting back:

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing Random House, claiming the bestseller lifts from their 1982 book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail…

..[.A spokeswoman for the authors said] “The basis of their case is theft of intellectual property. “There are huge chunks of The Da Vinci Code which they say is lifted from their book.”…

…It features “cryptically coded parchments, secret societies, the Knights Templar” and links them to “a dynasty of obscure French kings” and the Holy Grail. It also claims that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child together.

Similar? Well I’ve read it twice in my life and have it on my bookshelf. Yes, incredibly so. If the guys don’t win this case, or the case is dropped it means a lot of money behind the scenes. Still, the film will go on.

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12 thoughts on “The Da Vinci author in court

  1. Well, I’m not here to fight with anyone over this news but, I don’t exactly agree with you either and here’s why. First of all, I agree that my car example might not have been the best, maybe I should have used something more scientific and more actual… Anyway, when you say that they spent years researching, you imply that there was some research, therefore, the scientific methodology was applied to research paintings, historical facts, documents, etc. They did it to verify some hypothesis that they had on the Holy grail. I don’t know if they published a paper about it in a science magazine on religion or history or anything else but, they published their results in books at the least. Therefore, it has become public knowledge. Their books were’t novels as far as I know…so, Dan Brown didn’t plagiarized a story or anything…he just weaved a story around their argumentations on the meaning of the Holy grail. Ok, I try again at an example. Let’s say I write a science fiction story about someone who would go over to mars and find out alien living in the underground of mars…could someone who believe in ET and who also think that the “face” on mars is genuine and who would have written books about how there is extra-terrestrial life on mars, sue me?? As soon as your novel use a concept that is still debated and is not yet heard about in the everyday conversations, you could be sued, not matter how crazy or not this theory or idea is?? Of course, if you use characters that were created by someone else, this is plagiarism. But I don’t think the characters in Dan Brown’s novel were characters created by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh.

  2. The hardest thing to grasp is that this is not science theory, it’s not something you’ll see sitting around in New Scientist or backed by research papers.

    These guys spent years researching the theories (not science) that went into the book, and most of it can’t really be backed by reams of paperwork and other works.

    Your car analogy is extremely basic and not at all relevant in this case. How a car works is documented fact by thousands of sources. If you began detailing Honda’s proprietry VTEC engine technology then perhaps that’s closer to the idea, but that is still based on commonly acceptable, provable fact and thousands of sources to reference and back it up.

    These theories are not.

    However, going by all the arguements against here, I could write a Matrix novel with all the characters in it and not have to pay the W.Brothers one penny? Again, no.

  3. I think this is ridiculous. When you write a novel, you can write about any kind of science theory that you want. It’s not like if Dan Brown would have went and said that he is the one who thought about all this. I think he researched his book well and I don’t see why he wouldn’t have the right to use the infos he gathered…If I’d write a novel where I would explain the concept of how a car work, the big car companies could sue me over intellectual property? That’s ridiculous…A novel doesn’t have to reveal its source as a science paper has…

  4. Simone, I happen to have in my possession a copy of Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco which you are welcome to have next time we get together.

    (A friend of mine was chucking a load of books out and I took them off him to see if I could sell them on ebay. That book was one of the ones that did not sell.)

  5. Hey Bryce, thanks for that post. At the time I was getting into DVC, a friend has suggested that I also look at a book from Umberto Eco, and totally forgot about it.

    Has anybody here read “The Rule of Four”?

  6. Paul, I do agree with you to a certain point, but taking the majority of the book and writing it in your own (Dom, fact or fiction, makes no difference) without much re-write other than the weaving of poor detective story around it does give rise to the thought of plagiarism.

    “Either Holy Blood is a fictional story and DaVinci Code is IP theft. Or Holy Blood is factual and in the public domain.” Not strictly true Dom, just because your book claims to be true does not mean all your theories are public domain. Could I take the autobiography of some famous star, reprint it and sell it from my back door? No.

    Anyway claiming something is fact is not the same as having it proven so. There are many versions of events in the years that Jesus is claimed to have lived, there is no fact for this book. The book is a factual description of a groups investigation into the theories, not a description of factual events. That’s the difference in the book, it’s not like a WWII book describing facts written about, filmed and witnessed by so many other sources.

    I suggest reading the book before saying the authors are wrong.

  7. Don’t the authors of Holy Blood claim that everything in that book is fact? Yet now they’re saying a fantasy novel based on these ‘historical facts’ is IP theft. Get your story straight.

    Surely that would be like a WWII historian suing Steven Speilberg for basing a film on a text he wrote.

    Either Holy Blood is a fictional story and DaVinci Code is IP theft. Or Holy Blood is factual and in the public domain.

  8. The DaVinci Code is clearly marked as fiction, and sold as such. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is sold as a non-fiction book pertaining to religion and history and is 21 years older than The Davinci Code. Now, I know JFK did credit “On The Trail Of Assassins”, and Top Gun even credits the newspaper clipping it was inspired by… but how long, or how many others have to write about some theory before they don’t have to credit their inspiration or research. Jame’s Cameron’s Titanic doesn’t credit ANY book, but if you read Titanic: An Illustrated History, by Donald Lynch and Ken Marschall, there are few to no differences between their interpretations of the sequence of events of the sinking or even in how the hue of the sky reflects off the white painted walls, it’s like a visual companion to the movie, without Kate and Leo publicity shots. And it came out years before. We can think of many other examples… What Bermuda Triangle movie credits Charles Berlitz… (Consult IMDB) Oh, they do… well.

    At least Dan Brown has the cash to spare.

    It is funny though that DC Comics never sued their parent company or their sister company for the similarities between Books of Magic and Harry Potter.

    How many different sources do you need to be original?

  9. Interesting. Another book with virtually identical themes, albeit dissected on a much more meticulous level, is FOCAULT’S PENDULUM by Umberto Eco. I had a hard time reading the DaVinci Code without being continually shocked by the similarities. However, Eco’s long, drawn out descriptions and explanations make his work far less palatable to your average reader. Incidentally, the comic book PREACHER also touches on the idea of the ‘Grail’ being an organization to protect ‘Scions of Jesus’. (Not to mention Kevin Smith’s DOGMA).

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