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March 13, 2006

"Da Vinci Code" Author Dan Brown Takes Stand In Infringement Case

Wait-- so you can sue for infringement over an idea? The authors of "Holy Blood and The Holy Grail" also seem to be suing over the idea he "organized" the book along the same lines as theirs. So it's not just a lawsuit over a naked idea. But that just seems to be silly, a way to plead around the general principle you can't copyright an idea, but only its expression.

Almost three years to the day that ''The Da Vinci Code'' was first published, American author Dan Brown found himself on a witness stand in courtroom 61 of London's High Court on Monday, denying accusations he copied from others to produce his huge best-seller.

Authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing ''Da Vinci Code'' publisher Random House for copyright infringement, claiming Brown ''appropriated the architecture'' of their 1982 nonfiction book ''The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.''

Both books explore theories -- dismissed by theologians but embraced by millions of readers -- that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, the couple had a child and the bloodline survives.

If the writers succeed in securing an injunction to bar the use of their material, they could hold up the scheduled May 19 release of ''The Da Vinci Code'' film starring Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen.

...

Responding to questions from the plaintiffs' attorney, Brown said much of the research for the book was done by his wife, Blythe.

''She was deeply passionate about the sacred feminine,'' Brown said.

The sacred feminine. No idea what this bubblehead could be talking about. Pooters?

...

Random House lawyers argue that the ideas in dispute are so general they are not protected by copyright. They also say many of the ideas in ''The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail'' do not feature in Brown's novel, which follows fictional professor Robert Langdon as he investigates the murder of an elderly member of an ancient society that guards dark secrets about the story of Jesus and the quest for the Holy Grail.

Under cross-examination, Brown acknowledged some uncertainty about the dates of events leading up to the March 18, 2003, publication of ''The Da Vinci Code.''

In his statement, however, he said he was certain he and his wife had not consulted ''The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail'' for research until after the ideas and storyline of ''The Da Vinci Code'' were ''very well developed.''

''All of my early research came from other sources,'' he said.

I'm guessing that's a lie, as "The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail" is the most famous book about this silly idea. How could it have been he never checked out the most famous book about his theory until well after he had "well developed" his storyline and silly conspiracy theory?

You can't do a google search on this sort of thing without coming up with six thousand references to Holy Bood, Holy Grail.

I'm pretty sure I first read of this goofiness in Umbert Eco's mega-conspiracy-novel parody "Foucault's Pendulum." Pretty sure Eco got this stuff from Holy Blood, Holy Grail though.


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posted by Ace at 12:16 PM

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