It seems the definitive judgement on the Da Vinci copyright case has now been handed down. The Court of Appeal in London has ruled that Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, did not reproduce ideas from the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, authored by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. Baigent and Leigh lost the original court case in 2006 (Lincoln declined to take part in the claim), with the appeal held in January of this year.
Personally, I have to say I'm happy with the decision...if a precedent had been set in this case, I can't imagine the issues there would be in future for fiction writers in using historical research. On the other hand though, it's sad to see 'legends of the genre' Baigent and Leigh take such a costly fall (it is said they will have to pay costs of £3million). In a statement, B&L said:
We believed, and still do, that non-fiction authors would suffer and be discouraged from extensive research if it was found that any author could take another's ideas, 'morph' and repackage them, then sell them on.
I can't see a lot of merit in this reasoning - all non-fiction researchers know that any fiction writer can take their ideas and weave a story around them. In B&L's case, did Brown's book cost them anything? On the contrary, it provided a whole new wave of publicity and sales of their 1980s bestseller went through the roof. Comments welcome.