(From Yahoo News - Monday February 27 12:57 PM ET)
'Da Vinci Code' Author Accused in London
"The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown was accused in Britain's High Court on Monday of taking material for his blockbuster conspiracy thriller from a 1982 book about the Holy Grail. The accusation was made in a breach of copyright lawsuit filed against "The Da Vinci Code" publisher Random House. If the lawsuit succeeds in getting an injunction barring use of the disputed material, the scheduled May 19 release of "The Da Vinci Code" film starring Tom Hanks and Ian McKellan could be threatened.
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," sued Random House, which also published their book. Random House denies the claim. Baigent and Leigh claim Brown appropriated their ideas and themes in writing his book, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its 2003 publication. Both books hinge on the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had a child, and that blood line survives to this day. The earlier book set out the notion that Christ did not die on the cross but lived later in France.
Brown, who was expected to testify next week, told reporters outside court that this idea had no appeal for him. "Suggesting a married Jesus is one thing, but questioning the Resurrection undermines the very heart of Christian belief," said Brown, who described himself as a committed Christian. Jonathan Rayner James, a lawyer for Baigent and Leigh, said the case did not relate to the theft of specific parts of text but to the appropriation of themes and ideas. "Brown copied from 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail' and therefore the publication of the resulting novel is an infringement of my clients' copyright," he told the court.
James said his case was not an attempt to "stultify creative endeavor" or claim a monopoly on ideas or historical debate.
But Jonathan Baldwin, representing Random House, said Baigent and Leigh were making "wild allegations." He said they were suggesting that "Mr. Brown has appropriated not only the numerous parts of a jigsaw puzzle but the organizational way (Baigent and Leigh) put it together."
"In brief, the complaint appears to be that 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail' discloses the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that they had children which survived and married into a line of French kings, that the lineage continues today, and that there is a secret society based in France which has the objective of restoring this lineage to the thrones not only of France but to the thrones of other European nations as well, and that ('The Da Vinci Code') uses some of this idea," Baldwin said. He said Brown referred to "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" in his novel, but the earlier book "did not have anything like the importance to Mr. Brown which the claimants contend it had."
Full article here.
Wikipedia's entry on The Da Vinci Code