Sunday, February 26, 2006
Researchers sue Dan Brown for using their data
Dan Brown, author of the insanely popular novel The Da Vinci Code, is being sued for using someone else's research in his fiction. Brown's book has sold over 44 million copies and been translated into dozens of languages.
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing their own publishers, Random House, which also published The Da Vinci Code. The pair say that Brown's book draws heavily on their bestseller Holy Blood, Holy Grail, first published in 1982.
Those familiar with Holy Blood, Holy Grail weren't surprised at Brown's storyline — that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had married, had a child, and that after Jesus' crucifixion Mary and the child fled to France, where the bloodline continues to the present day. Not only was it recognized that HBHG was Brown's inspiration; Brown actually credited Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln's book within his fictional story. (Lincoln, the third author of HBHG, is not a party to the lawsuit.)
The court proceedings are expected to last about two weeks, barring a settlement, and its outcome could hold up release of the upcoming theatrical version of The Da Vinci Code in Britain, scheduled for May. The case is likely to clarify how far an author can go in using other people's research under existing copyright laws.
With the Vatican now claiming copyright for the Pope's own Papal Bulls, and researchers claiming copyright over the information they discover, how much longer will it be before the descendants of Britain's King James claim copyright for the Bible, and descendants of Frances Bacon try to copyright unwritten Masonic ritual?
Da Vinci Code | Holy Blood Holy Grail | Dan Brown
The painting Et in Aracdia Ego is by Nicolas Poussin. If you don't know why we've chosen to use it to illustrate this article, you really should read Holy Blood, Holy Grail.