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Writing News: Writers lose battle

Writers lose ‘Da Vinci Code’ fight


POSTED: 0958 GMT (1758 HKT), March 28, 2007

Story Highlights

• Court of Appeal rejects 2 authors’ claims Brown stole ideas for “Da Vinci Code”
• Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh wrote “The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail”

LONDON, England
(AP) — Author Dan Brown won his copyright infringement case Wednesday,
after Britain’s Court of Appeal rejected efforts from two authors who
claimed he stole their ideas for his blockbuster novel, “The Da Vinci
Code.”

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote “The Holy
Blood And The Holy Grail,” now face legal bills of about $6 million
after losing their appeal against publisher Random House.

Baigent
and Leigh had argued that Brown stole significant elements from their
book. Both are based on a theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married
and had a child, and that the bloodline continues to this day.

The
lawyers said Baigent and Leigh had “expended a vast amount of skill and
labor” in writing their book, first published in 1982. “That skill and
labor is protectable.”

Brown testified for several days during the High Court hearing last year.

The
claimants’ lawyer, Jonathan Rayner James, said that although the suit
had been against the publisher rather than the author, Brown was really
the one being put on trial for his work.

During a hearing earlier
this year, Rayner James said issues remained about the role of Brown’s
wife, Blythe Brown, who did much of the original research for the
blockbuster novel.

She did not testify at the High Court hearing. Brown said he wanted to protect his wife from publicity.

In
April, Justice Peter Smith ruled that Random House, publisher of “The
Da Vinci Code,” had not breached the copyright. Smith said the claim
was based on a “selective number of facts and ideas artificially taken
out of (the book) for the purpose of the litigation.”

“The Da
Vinci Code” has sold more than 40 million copies since its release in
March 2003. A film version starring Tom Hanks was released last year.

“The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” also was published by Random House. It was a best-seller when released 20 years ago.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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