April 7, 2006

“Da Vinci Code” publishers win plagiarism case

LONDON (Reuters) - The publishers of "The Da Vinci Code,"
the blockbuster novel by U.S. author Dan Brown, won their UK
court case on Friday over accusations of plagiarism.

A judge at the High Court in London rejected allegations by
two historians that Brown had stolen ideas from their book "The
Holy Blood and the Holy Grail."

The historians, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, had
brought the case against Brown's British publisher Random

Judge Peter Smith gave his verdict at the end of a trial
which lasted nearly a month and was followed intensely by
reporters, copyright lawyers and fans of the novel, which has
sold over 40 million copies worldwide.

"The plaintiffs' case has failed," he said. "Dan Brown has
not infringed copyright. None of this amounts to copying The
Holy Blood and the Holy Grail."

Brown testified at the hearings, which were peppered with
abstruse debate over the Merovingian monarchy, the Knights
Templar and the bloodline of Jesus Christ, all of which feature
in The Da Vinci Code.

The verdict will be welcomed by Bertelsmann AG, the German
media conglomerate which owns Random House, and Sony Pictures,
which is due to release a film based on the book soon.

Baigent and Leigh, who published "The Holy Blood" in 1982,
also with Random House, now face a legal bill of over one
million pounds ($1.75 million).

However, sales of their own book have shot up as a result
of the publicity surrounding the case.

They had based their argument on the similarities between
the books, which both raise the possibility Jesus had a child
by Mary Magdalene, that she fled to France after the
Crucifixion and that Christ's bloodline survives to this day.