Baigent and Leigh Appeal Dismissed

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.

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RobertH's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
4 years 47 weeks

I think Mr Brown should aleast help Baigent and Leigh out and pay the legal fee as a gesture of good will. After all if it wasn't Holy blood Holy grail there would not have been a Da Vinci code.

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
2 days 6 hours

I was about to post the same suggestion, I totally agree it'd be a very nice gesture if Dan Brown helped out Baigent and Leigh. But Baigent and Leigh rolled the dice, and now they have to deal with the consequences. They did accuse Brown of plagiarism afterall, so they haven't exactly endeared themselves to Brown's compassion. As Greg said, the publicity generated by TDVC helped sell HBHG, Baigent and Leigh could have used TDVC in a positive way to promote their ideas. Instead, the ugly green creature of jealousy possessed them. It's a horrible situation to watch, because I can understand (and sympathise with) both sides of the conflict. There's only one clear villain in this story, and that's Random House ... who own both TDVC and HBHG.

If I get filthy rich when my novels are published, I won't hesitate to help those whose research inspired me. That includes Greg Taylor. ;)

RealityTest's picture
Member since:
16 August 2006
Last activity:
1 week 3 days

Speaking of fiction (and that dealing with some of the same personalities/characters), Ki Longfellow's The Secret Magdalene, begun years before The Da Vinci Code was published, is now officially out (again).

Originally self-published, the book was sold to Crown, a Division of Random House; that firm then required Ki, a friend of mine, to rewrite the book to its satisfaction.

This is an entertaining and well researched tale quite unlike most of the other material dealing with "Mariamne" and her friends.

Bill I.