The lawsuit filed against Dan Brown, the author of the Da Vinci Code,
resumed at London's High Court on Tuesday after a weeklong break to give the judge time to read both books involved and related materials.
The litigants told the court that they had exagerated their claims in order to plead their
case. The case continues.
Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, dismissed the claims
that he stole the ideas of two other authors as "completely fanciful".
Three years to the week after "The Da Vinci Code" was first published,
the multimillionaire writer found himself on the witness stand at London's
High Court yesterday, denying accusations of copyright infringement
from Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh.
Brown said he was "shocked at the plaintiffs' reaction".
Under questioning by their lawyer, however, Brown
acknowledged that he could not always recall exact dates of
milestones in the creation of his novel.
"It's as if you've asked me to go back five years or 10 years and asked
me not only what I got for Christmas, but what order I opened
the presents," he told Jonathan Rayner James, a lawyer for the plaintiffs,
before a courtroom packed with journalists, religious skeptics and fans.
The author, a resident of Exeter, N.H., who gives interviews only rarely,
appeared composed during testimony. Only occasionally did he show impatience
with Rayner James' forensic questioning about documents and dates.
Random House lawyers argue 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" are not featured in Brown's novel,
which follows the 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.
In his 69-page witness statement, Brown acknowledged reading Baigent and Leigh's
book while he was writing "The Da Vinci Code" -- along with 38 other books
and more than 300 documents submitted as evidence to the court.
He said Baigent and Leigh's work "was not a crucial or important
text in the creation of the framework of 'The Da Vinci Code.'
The legal battle over "The Da Vinci Code" is nearing its conclusion.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs said in his closing remarks
that the writer's evidence should be treated with "deep suspicion."
He wanted to know why Brown's wife wasn't called in the copyright
infringement case. Blythe Brown did lots of the research on the
"Da Vinci Code." He says she could have confirmed the extent to
which the book relied on the 1982 nonfiction book
"The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail." The authors of that work are suing Brown.
Both books explore theories that Jesus married Mary Magdalene,
the couple had a child and that the bloodline survives.
Theologians dismiss those theories. The legal fight could hold up
the scheduled May release of the "The DaVinci Code" movie starring Tom Hanks.
It's a perfect ending to the latest chapter in Dan Brown's life. The author of The Da Vinci Code can continue making millions. Two writers had claimed Brown stole the themes of their book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Friday, a British court cleared Brown of copyright infringement.
The Da Vinci Code was already a blockbuster, but since the trial has been under way, Brown has been in the public eye more often, which is part of the reason he says he's concerned about his family's safety. They live in Rye, N.H., and he's been fighting for more privacy. He won the town's support Friday night.
You don't have to crack any code to find meaning in the beginnings of the new stone wall encircling Brown's property.
"If any individual wants to protect their property or their privacy, a fence is a good place to start," said the town's police chief.
It's not just any fence. It's a 2-foot stone wall and a 6-foot wrought-iron fence. Brown himself authored a letter to Rye selectmen, asking permission to build it. The letter, in part, says: "in the past few weeks we have had strangers, paparazzi, and fans trespassing on our property, even venturing into our backyard to take photographs through our windows."
At least one was spotted by selectman Joe Mills. "He was acting in a very strange manner and he had an English accent," he said.
So, Brown already started construction on the wall because selectmen assured him there would be no debate about it. He told them he's now staying at an undisclosed location and won't return to this home until the wall is complete.
The goal is to have it in by the time the movie version of his book hits the big screen next month. With it, even more fanfare and Hollywood style.
If a ticket to Rye doesn't buy him privacy, maybe the new security will.
So Friday night, the small town board voted yes, saying that he can build the fence, even though it encroaches on town property.
The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown and Holy Blood, Holy Grail author Michael Baigent just butted heads in a London courtroom. This week, they'll go head-to-head in bookstores, too.
Dan Brown's juggernaut, The Da Vinci Code, arrives in paperback form Tuesday.
More than 5 million copies of the DaVinci paperback go on sale Tuesday, in both mass-market ($7.99) and the larger trade paperback size ($14.95). So does Baigent's new book, The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History (HarperSanFrancisco); first printing: 150,000.
Among my examples was the lawsuit between Dan Brown, author of the all-time bestselling novel, "The DaVinci Code", and his publisher, Random House, on the one hand, and writer Lewis Perdue on the other. I called Perdue, "The plaintiff in that courtroom outing ... who alleged that Brown had pirated parts of two Perdue novels, 1983s 'The DaVinci Legacy", and 2000s 'Daughter of God.'''
Jim Castagnera is a writer and lawyer who
wrote about the Da Vinci code trial. In a recent article, he wrote that Lewis Perdue
(who was on the plaintiff side of the case)
contacted him after the publication of his article which
was generally in favour of Dan Brown's fight.
In a June 1 email Purdue wrote to Castagnera that "It is probably worth
noting that Random House
sued ME and not the other way around (as Mr. Catagnera had wrote).
Given the way that money speaks in the legal system, I would never
have been stupid enough to sue them. I've got shallow, modest,
middle class financial pockets (or HAD before this whole litigation
hell began) and Random House has the Bertelsmann billions behind them."
Wanting to learn more, Mr. Castagnera apologized and the apology was accepted.
Perdue, who at age 57 boasts an extraordinary resume that includes 20 fiction and non-fiction books and a long list of entrepreneurial achievements to boot, attached the pdf file for an article which one month later appeared as a major feature story in the July issue of Vanity Fair magazine. The piece was penned by a former Newsweek writer named Seth Mnookin, to whom Perdue reached out in 2003. Mnookin dashed off a 384-word item in the June 9, 2003, issue under the header, "A Stolen 'DaVinci' --- Or Just Weirdness?" He says in V.F. three years later, "That, I thought, would pretty much be that."
But the case was just too compelling to die such a quiet death. In 2004, two of three authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" sued Brown in a London court. As noted in my column, they lost to no one's great surprise, since the facts in their non-fiction book were fair game for Brown's background research. "But," writes Mnookin in V.F., "Brown didn't emerge unscathed from his London trial. He had submitted a 69-page witness statement in which he made a number of bizarre assertions, chief among them that, despite all indications to the contrary, 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' had been one of the less important research texts Brown had consulted." Mnookin began paying closer attention to Perdue's persistent email salvos. "The more I looked, the more some of what Perdue's emails (and blog entries) claimed appeared worth pursuing."
Among Mnookin's revelations in V.F. is an expert-witness report by Director John Olsson of Britain's Forensic Linguistics Institute. The report, which was not allowed into evidence by the federal judge who decided Brown and Random House v. Perdue, states flat out, "This is the most blatant example of in-your-face plagiarism I've ever seen."
Let's assume Olsson is correct. In my line of work --- higher education --- if Brown were a tenured faculty member, he'd probably be forced to resign from the faculty. Although some famous academic authors, such as the late historian Stephen Ambrose, manage to shrug off accusations of plagiarism, academia is typically harsh in its handling of word thieves. A couple of years ago, the president of Central Connecticut State University was forced to retire for cribbing materials for a guest column in the Hartford Courant ... just a wee column like this one, not a novel!
Unfortunately, federal copyright law is a lot less stringent than academic honesty codes. The expression, not the idea, is protected from poaching. So, if Shakespeare had walked the streets of New York's West Side in 1961, he couldn't have done a thing about the appropriation of his plot in "Romeo and Juliet," when Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents morphed it into "West Side Story".
Some lawyers would like to see that change. Earlier this year Arthur Miller, the Harvard law prof/TV personality, published a piece in which he calls for greater protection of an author's plots and characters. Sadly for Lewis Perdue, this may be an idea whose time has not yet come.
is an attorney and a journalist who lives and writes in Havertown.
Friday, November 23/2007 By NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press Writer
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Sheiks, libraries and collectors around the world have ordered the Vatican's new $8,400 limited-edition documentation of the heresy trial of the Knights Templar, officials said Thursday.
The leather-bound volume, which includes high-quality reprints of the original documents as well as clerical seals, is noteworthy because it contains a long ignored parchment showing that Pope Clement V initially absolved the medieval order of heresy.
Scrinium publishing house, which prints documents from the Vatican's Secret Archives, is issuing 799 editions of the volume _ and plans in the coming days to present one to Pope Benedict XVI, officials said at a presentation inside Vatican City.
The order of knights, which ultimately disappeared because of the heresy scandal, recently captivated the imagination of readers of the best-seller "The Da Vinci Code," which linked the Templars to the story of the Holy Grail.
The Vatican work reproduces the entire documentation of the papal hearings convened after King Philip IV of France arrested and tortured Templar leaders in 1307 on charges of heresy and immorality.
In addition to sheiks and libraries, individual collectors, Templar associations and cultural organizations around the world have reserved copies, though about 300 are still available, said Scrinium president Ferdinando Santor.
He declined to identify any buyers by name, citing Italian privacy laws, but said they included "internationally famous" people.
The military order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land after the First Crusade.
As their military might increased, the Templars also grew in wealth, acquiring property throughout Europe and running a primitive banking system. After they left the Middle East with the collapse of the Crusader kingdoms, their power and secretive ways aroused the fear of European rulers and sparked accusations of corruption and blasphemy.
Historians believe Philip owed debts to the order due to his wars with England and used the accusations to arrest its leaders and extract, under torture, confessions of heresy as a way to seize the order's riches.
The new volume includes the "Parchment of Chinon," a 1308 decision by Clement to save the Templars and their order that was long ignored due to a vague catalog entry made in 1628.
Vatican archives researcher Barbara Frale determined the significance of the parchment in 2001, realizing that it was not of secondary importance as had previously been thought but actually concerned a trip by three top Cardinals, including Clement's right-hand man, to interrogate the Templars' Grand Master and other top officials.
The parchment shows that Clement initially absolved the Templar leaders of heresy, though he did find them guilty of immorality, and that he planned to reform the order. However, under pressure from Philip, Clement later reversed his decision and suppressed the order in 1312.|