Da Vinci Code Plagiarized:
Real Jesus Christ Died of Old Age in France.
The Religion eZine - Christians

KEVIN SULLIVAN - February 28th, 2006.

Da Vinci Code plagiarism case hits court. - Two historians allege author copied their work. - Suit against book's publisher opens in London.

LONDON: Author Dan Brown copied the central themes of his best-selling thriller, The Da Vinci Code, from a 1982 book, a lawyer for two of the book's three authors argued in a London courtroom yesterday.

But a lawyer representing Brown's publisher, Random House, dismissed the claims as "scandalous" and "wild allegations, completely unsupported by facts" on the opening day of a copyright infringement trial involving one of the best-selling novels of all time.

The case could potentially involve millions of dollars in royalties and profits from The Da Vinci Code, which has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide and has been made into a major Hollywood film, starring Tom Hanks, which is scheduled to open in May.

Brown, who generally shuns public appearances, sat in the front row of the small courtroom, dressed in his trademark tan blazer, black turtleneck and khaki pants. Brown is not a defendant in the case, which is being brought against Random House, but he is expected to testify.

Both The Da Vinci Code and The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, which was also published by Random House, centre on the idea that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene, they had a child together and the bloodline survives in secret to the present. Brown's book is a work of fiction; the earlier book, which was also an international best-seller, was presented as historical non-fiction.

Brown has publicly acknowledged using The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail as part of his research in writing his book, but he has described it as a minor resource. John Baldwin, the lawyer for Random House, argued the book "did not have anything like the importance to Mr. Brown" asserted by authors Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent.

Their book is mentioned in The Da Vinci Code. The name of one of Brown's key characters, Leigh Teabing, combines Leigh's name and an anagram of Baigent's.

The third author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Henry Lincoln, is not a party to the lawsuit.

In his opening arguments, Jonathan Rayner James, a lawyer for Baigent and Leigh, said Brown did not copy words from his clients' book but had taken "the idea you are left with when you've read the book."

James said the case was "not about stultifying creative endeavour" or "seeking a monopoly on creative ideas" or historical facts. He said it was about Brown appropriating central points of his clients' work.

In August, Brown won a similar case filed against him in the United States, when a U.S. District Court judge in New York dismissed claims that he had infringed on the copyrights of two books by Lewis Perdue, Daughter of God and The Da Vinci Legacy.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom yesterday, Brown noted that, unlike his book, "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" theorizes that Christ did not die on the cross, as millions of Christians believe, but rather survived and later lived in France and died of old age.