material from an earlier book when he wrote "The Da
Vinci Code", his best-selling religious thriller at
the centre of a copyright case, a lawyer told London's
High Court on Tuesday.
With over 36 million copies of his novel in
circulation and a major Hollywood adaptation due for
release in May, the stakes are high in a case brought
British publishers by historians Michael Baigent and
In opening arguments for the defence, publisher Random
House said that much of the "central theme" of "The
Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail", which the authors say
has been plagiarised, did not in fact appear in The Da
"A further difficulty for the claimant is that The Da
Vinci Code doesn't actually have many of the points of
the central theme," said the publisher's lawyer, John
Baldwin. "We say that's fatal to their case."
On the second day of the trial, with Brown again
present in court, Baldwin also argued that the ideas
the historians were seeking to protect were too
"The claimants' claim relates to ideas at a high level
of generality, which copyright does not protect," the
publishers said in a document outlining their case.
They add that the complaint appears to centre on the
idea in The Holy Blood book that Jesus married Mary
Magdalene, they had children who survived and married
into a line of French kings, that the lineage
continues today and that a secret society based in
France aims to restore the lineage to the thrones of
"The claimants contend that their idea is protected by
copyright, whereas Random contend there is no
copyright in information of this nature, and that in
any event there was no copying," the publisher said.
BROWN ACKNOWLEDGES SOURCE
The case has generated considerable media interest,
both because it involves one of the world's most
successful authors and because it pits the rights of
an author to use existing research against protection
of non-fiction writers behind it.
Commentators point out that a character in 41-year-old
Brown's book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an
anagram of Leigh and Baigent. A third author of the
1982 book, Henry Lincoln, has decided to stay out of
The defence admits that Brown looked at The Holy Blood
book, also published by Random House and a bestseller
in its own right, when he was writing his novel. In
fact, the character Teabing refers to it in the
But lawyers argue that he had already written a
synopsis of The Da Vinci Code before either he or his
wife ever looked at the other work. Brown's wife does
some of his research for him.
Last August, Brown won a court ruling against another
writer, Lewis Perdue, who claimed The Da Vinci Code
copied elements of two of his novels, "Daughter of
God" and "The Da Vinci Legacy".
Perdue had sought $150 million (85.6 million pounds)
in damages and asked the court to block distribution
of the book and movie adaptation, which features Tom
Hanks and French actress Audrey Tautou.
The current case is scheduled to last up to three
weeks, Brown may take the witness stand some time next
week. The hearings have been adjourned until next
Tuesday to allow the judge time to read the books and
other related material.