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The Da Vinci Code - Legal threat to film

The Da Vinci Code

Story by Jack Foley

A COURT case involving The Da Vinci Code could threaten the UK release of the film if it proves successful.

Authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh appeared in London’s High Court on Monday (February 27, 2006) to claim that Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, had copied their ideas in his novel.

According to Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh, The Da Vinci Code stole “the whole architecture” of research that went into their own 1982 novel, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

Both books contain the idea that Jesus had a child and put forward theories that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and that their blood line continues to the present day.

Random House, the publishers of The Da Vinci Code, denies the allegation and is currently being sued.

If successful, Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh could threaten the release of the film of the same name, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou.

It is currently due to receive its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Dan Brown in court

The Da Vinci Code has become a literary phenomenon since its publication, winning best book at this year’s British Book Awards and selling over 30 million copies in about 40 languages.

It has also caused widespread controversy over its claims, with Catholic groups, including Opus Dei, vehemently denying its assertions.

Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh’s non-fiction best-seller, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (HBHG) was also published by Random House, but their lawyer told Monday’s High Court session: “Dan Brown copied from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and therefore the publication of the result by the defendant is in infringement of the copyright of my client in the United Kingdom.”

In response, Gail Rebuck, chief executive of Random House, issued a statement saying that her company had published both books and was ‘genuinely saddened’ that two of the three authors of HBHG had chosen to pursue litigation.

“Random House takes no pleasure in defending legal action that it believes is without merit and we are confident that we shall prevail,” she added.

The case is scheduled to last for two weeks and has already attracted the attention of the world’s media, who flocked outside the High Court yesterday to capture the arrival of Mr Brown to proceedings.

Catholic group calls for adult rating for The Da Vinci Code movie