Do Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh have a case against Dan Brown for copyright infringement?

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JBro's picture
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1 May 2004
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I think they have got NO case against Dan Brown and it's their own fault. They regard their own work as historic research and not as fiction. In this case they can't possibly copyright historic facts or hypotheses. If this was possible any author of history manuals would see a flood of copyright cases..... no?

Btw I LOVED Holy Bloood Holy Grail !! Too bad it comes to this. They should have been glad - sales of their book are up on an astronomical scale, Dan Brown acknowledged their work (even naming a character Leigh Teabing ;-)

JBro

Robynne's picture
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31 August 2004
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One cannot copyright history. If Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh claim in court that "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" is fiction, then they could have a case. However, nobody would read anything by them except as fiction and they would have perpetrated fraud on the public. If they claim that "quotes" were lifted from their book and proper credit was not given, then they would have a case.
Since the former is highly unlikely and the latter, as I understand it, is not true it then follows that they have no case what so ever. I call their attitude into question as they are obviously jealous of not only Brown's notoriety, but the obvious fortune he has made off a cleaver idea. (He’s really a hack, as many fiction writers are)
RRE

kennc's picture
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Greg

Baring in mind that the material in these books has been around in dusty corners of libraries along with some of the conclusions for well over half a century , I think that long forgotten authors might have a case against all of the above; because, very little, if any, truely origional research was done by any of the above. Having read them and allowing for the benefit of the doubt, I would be very interest in knowing if anyone can find even one piece of truely origional research in any of them!

What do you think?

Where's the origional research?

kennc

Still Still's picture
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It's in Holy Blood Holy Grail.
"Quaerendo Invenietis" ~ "By Seeking, you will discover"

kennc's picture
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Still Still

I've read 'Holy Blood Holy Grail' and there isn't any new verifiable data in it. The idea that the Grail is the Blood Line Of Jesus isn't new either! Other speculation in the book isn't backed up by solid research either. It's a fun read; but, that is about all that it is!

What do you think?

kennc

Still Still's picture
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I think I might catch your point. Are you stating that speculation around an event or events within the annals of history is not original research? If so I agree. However if you consider original research to be accurate observation of prior speculation around events within the annals of history, then there might be a case for considering what Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln did to be original research. I'm not sure if reinerpretation of prior stated, i.e. not new, verifiable data is what was done in the book. I also think that if you allow for the latter definition to hold for original research, Dan Brown would have to be entitled to it as well.
Just a side question kennc, but does the difference between your spelling of "origional" and mine of "original" represent a seperate concept? What do you think?

"Quaerendo Invenietis" ~ "By Seeking, you will discover"

kennc's picture
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Still Still

I'm saying that they rehashed old research and did't find anything new that they could back up with anything other than speculation. Solid research on the speculation could be considered original research; but, I don't see it! Speculation about speculation does not constitute original research in my opinion.

What do you think?

kennc

pyramid's picture
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The book is called "The Jesus Papers" and it is very interesting--NOT fiction like Dan Brown's book. I don't really feel the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail or The Messianic Legacy have any real grounds to sue Dan Brown--His book is FICTION-Anyway I've read the Da Vinci Code,Holy Blood Holy Grail,The Messianic Legacy and The Jesus Papers--all are great reads-

pyramid's picture
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The book is called "The Jesus Papers" and it is very interesting--NOT fiction like Dan Brown's book. I don't really feel the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail or The Messianic Legacy have any real grounds to sue Dan Brown--His book is FICTION-Anyway I've read the Da Vinci Code,Holy Blood Holy Grail,The Messianic Legacy and The Jesus Papers--all are great reads-

Colette M. Dowell's picture
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I feel the same way, many books have been written throughout the centuries on many subjects that the authors have been long forgotten, but their books have been found and read and then rewritten, supposed upon, plagiarized and what not. I know even in the 20th century,(the turn of the 19th to the 20th not to 2000 on up) books that have been written on Atlantis, Ancient Civilizations, Egypt, Sacred Texts --along those lines ( as that is what I am into) have been plagiarized and no one would ever really know unless they happen to have one of the old books or is aware of the research. New authors that are coming out, or even who came out in the 1990s with "Hey, look at me, my special original research!" well, it was plagiarized material as I know the old professors and scientists that wrote the books way back in the 40s, 50, 60s and 70s from where the information was taken. A lot of them have passed now, many are very old and near their time for passing. New readers on the scene of so called "Alternative Research" will not know that the books they are reading are just rewritten words from others works. Like I remember when I asked the question is God plagiarized? Look how many versions of the Bible are out there, how it has been rewritten through out the centuries.

Now supposedly they found some thing on Judas, there will be authors jumping on that now and claiming they have found this, or that and write a book and so on....a lot of writers write what is the hot topic , and not really on material that is original and unique.

With the internet and so much that is available now, there is much information that is not properly credited. There are many versions of the blood line of Christ and Mary and all of that. Who is right? I do not know.

C

Dr. Colette M. Dowell ND
Circular Times
www.robertschoch.net

epgrondine's picture
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to those who do not know where it came from.

I don't think the HBHG authors have much of a case against Brown.
Theosophist themes have been very successfully used for fictional purposes by not only Brown, but also by Speilberg (Indiana Jones) and Clive Cussler.

About the only person who the HBHG authors might have a case against is David Hatcher Childress for his unacknowledged use of their work, as Mrs. Brown pointed out.

PS - Does anyone here know whose work was infringed by Mr. Childress that caused the first edition of "Extraterrestrial Archeology" to be
pulled from sale?

E.P. Grondine
Man and Impact in the Americas

alevangel's picture
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Yah, ditto to all the previous comments -- you can't copyright ideas....only the order of words on paper. Makes me wonder if HBHG authors are looking to piggyback on Brown's visibility, or if they are screwy enough to think they CAN control the ideas. I read HBHG some decades ago during my wasted youth, thought it was cool. With the benefit of passing years (and a more thorough understanding of history), the HBHG "theory" screams 'fantasy' to me now. Waiting to see how this plays out....

alevangel

earthling's picture
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It is very questionable whether this is a copyright violation.

On the other hand, Dan Brown's claim that he dreamed this up all by himself is much less than believable. That claim is just silly. But that is what he reportedly said today (BBC).

Of course, it is quite believable that he invented a story line to fit in with speculative interpretations of history. That is what makes his books interesting, and there is nothing wrong with that, and certainly nothing illegal.

So I would say that Dan Brown makes up fiction, as a good fiction author should, based on both accepted knowledge and speculative extensions of accepted theories, and on alternatives to accepted theories.

He should not claim that he did all this by himself. He clearly has not.

Audrey's picture
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I'm in the process of reading HBHG and I find it fascinating. I read TDVC about a year and a half ago and thought it brought to light some plausible ideas, but didn't look into it any further. I remember seeing a link online somewhere to HBHG but paid no attention to it, and I regret to admit that I'm only just now reading it because of current events. However, the original research it contains is amazing. Of course, anything you read you can choose to either accept it as true or not, but the evidence seems to abound in the novel. Granted, it is full of admitted speculations, but the hypotheses that were derived were all of reasonable thought - nothing that would make the authors seem foolish to anyone other than very devoted religious fanatics refusing to believe anything other than what has been force-fed to them. But more on the point - if HBHG is a non-fiction book, then as much as I am beginning to admire the authors for their research and zeal, I don't believe they have a leg to stand on. Historical fiction as a whole has been a concept for writers far before Dan Brown, and I believe that wherever he supposedly got the ideas for his book, it makes no difference. As stated previously, unless he quoted an exact phrase with no footnoting or mention of any kind, then he has a complete right to his novel. The point of historical fiction afterall is to take a few historical facts, and twist them around an interesting fictional story. I haven't researched it myself, but has Dan Brown ever claimed that EVERYTHING in his book is fact? And sorry this is so long, but one last thing - I don't see what the big deal is; it's all very interesting, the bloodline, the grail, Priory of Sion, etc, but who's to say ANY of it is fact? I'd like to believe so because it just seems to make a little more sense, but no one ever REALLY knows. Anything can be covered up, hidden, and fictionalized. ...How's that for my first post? Heh
Audrey

Ruby Lang's picture
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21 March 2006
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I find it bizarre that the Holy Blood, Holy Grail authors have brought this action against Dan Brown. Their own non-fiction work has profited immensely from the association with Brown's FICTIONAL bestseller, which of course drew on the ideas of Baigent and Leigh (and the third author, Henry Lincoln, who is not involved in the legal action), as well as a few others who have entertained the theory of what the grail could truly be.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail was a great read, and at one time quite hard to find in book stores, verging on out-of-print status.
The Da Vinci Code has given the book a shot in the arm, a second life. It seems a peculiar way to thank one's indirect benefactor.
I can only surmise that somehow the authors feel that Brown's subsequent kudos and bestseller status should be theirs, that he is cashing in on their work...that perhaps he has stolen their thunder. On the other hand, they may feel he has trivialised their work.
I can say right now that any thinking person can tell the difference between fact and fiction, and those truly motivated and inspired by the places and snippets of history pulled together in Brown's book(s) have gone on to search out the same sources the author turned to in his own research.
This otherwise template thriller has helped to make history cool and generated opportunities for other authors to write books 'decoding' the codes Brown uses and create accessible mainstream history books.
I really don't think Baigent and Leigh have a hope in hell, but I hope for their sakes they don't lose too much money in this fiasco of a court case.
However if, in an alternate universe they managed to win this action, think what a precedent it would set. How many other works of fiction would likewise be subject to litigation because they wove their fictional story into a "factual" or historical context first mooted by somebody else?

Ruby
www.strangenation.com.au

Still Still's picture
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After reading all of these comments i think that it is clear that Baigent and Leigh probably don't have a case of copyright infringement on Dan Brown, although I am not even sure of the exact specification of the case. What exactly is Dan Brown being sued for?
I think that he might have been wise to include the authors names in the book, especially when he mentioned the title HBHG. One of the main reasons I think only Leigh and Biagent might be involved, and this is kind of a naive theory, is that they might feel they were mocked by Brown's use of the character Leigh Teabing, which is an anagram for Leigh Baigent. Viewed in one way, Brown can be seen to be having a laugh (legally) and being mischievous, however, this might have been Dan Brown's idea of a tilt of the hat in their direction as well. I'm not really sure on this one, any ideas?

cathy's picture
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I seems to me that if Dan Brown had only properly acknowledged HBHG and its authors, none of this would be an issue. But then, I have my doubts as to if Dan Brown even knew where his material came from! Therefore, I consider Dan Brown negligent and irresponsible in accrediting any sources except those of his wife. Did he ever ask her where her material was coming from? It is obvious the anagram was a lucky stoke. Perhaps Mr. Brown should have properly said his book was based on the historical book, HBHG. This would be much like the producers of a film crediting an author/book with an acknowlegment such as 'this film was based on...'

the shadow's picture
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From what I have been reading about Brown I think that it is his wife who should be getting all the credit for his books.
He comes over as a weak sort of character to me.Apart from the theme of TDVC I found his writing style difficult and his other books boring.I think when he said he has writer's block what he means is that his wife hasn't finished all the research for his new book.
I saw a book in Bookworld the other day based on The Solomon Key but can't remember the name.
I didn't have enough money to buy it and I already have one anyway.

shadows

kennc's picture
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Shadows

The problem is that I didn't read anything in HBHG that I hadn't come across over 40 years ago in a variety of other sources. At best, HBHG compiled information from a variety of sources. Furthermore, I think that they used to Priory of Scion motiff to get around crediting many earlier sources by claiming that the information came from Plantard or what ever his name was. So, I agree with you about Brown; but, his wife could get the same information without ever reading HBHG, anybody could. It just takes time in a library. So, I can't agree that any of the principles have a case here! If anything, a case could possibly be made against them. But, many of the copyrights have probably expired. Some of the relevant sources date back to the early 20th century!

What do you think?

kennc

the shadow's picture
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about Greg Tyler the symbologist to come out.

shadows

brusmon's picture
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I have read most,if not all books dealing with the subject, I believe the general subjects have been under discussion for the last hundred years by specialists as various ancient texts have been discovered.

Dan Browns book brought this subject to the attention of a large number of people that had been comfortable in the orthadox views. So the blame game begins.

brusmon

pyramid's picture
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I already gave my opinion on this question but what I wanted to say now is has anyone seen the show"Digging for the Truth?" Interesting show--according to the host the theory that Jesus married and had a child is false. There is no evidence proving that he did marry---

the shadow's picture
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,,,that Jesus actually existed.

shadows

Xibalba's picture
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...don't take our ball away!

yer ol' pal,

Xibalba
(This post was brought to you by "Realm of the Dead")

chrisssy's picture
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the shadow wrote:

,,,that Jesus actually existed.

shadows

You really think, jesus christ never existed? i mean, probably he didnt do any wonders, but hell, its 99.9% sure, a guy called jesus lived that time. So he could have had children, too.
But i dont think that he had.

Xibalba's picture
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Hi Chrissy,

A guy called Jesus DEFINITELY existed at that period. In fact, since Jesus is a very popular name for that region, there were probably HUNDREDS of people called Jesus!

But, frivolity aside, I agree that the character of Jesus, as portrayed in the bible, probably did exist but that he was probably just an ordinary bloke (minus all the divine powers, which were most likely made up to bestow even higher greatness to their esteemed leader) who became a leader of his peoples, and something of a revolutionary against the state.

Why, therefore, if he was just an ordinary bloke living in rough times, do you think that he didn't have children? There's no hard evidence either way to answer this with any finality. But you have to remain open to the possibility that it might have happened.

yer ol' pal,

Xibalba
(This post was brought to you by "Realm of the Dead")

kennc's picture
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pyramid

Even so, a young Rabbi at that time in History would have taken a wife! It was the way of things, Tradition! But, a person who never existed could not have taken a wife!

What do you think?

kennc

pyramid's picture
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While it is true that a young jewish man at that time would have taken a wife and had children if a person is to believe that Jesus neve existed then he never could have had a wife. I'm not so sure I buy everything written in the bible as being true. However there was a person in that time named Jesus. Was it the same Jesus?

Jaques's picture
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Somone wrote "I find it bizarre that the Holy Blood, Holy Grail authors have brought this action against Dan Brown.

Their own non-fiction work has profited immensely from the association with Brown's FICTIONAL bestseller" This is a comparative nonsense Brown's profits from his plagarisation of Baigents work, some of which is original not as some other person claims "stuff I knew about 40 years ago" (ie 16 years before HBHG was PUBLISHED....many years of research went into the eventual book. You may have known some, even much but not all. I have some ideas on the Arcadia lettering...have even lived in that area in provence where the tomb in the "ego" painting was "destroyed".I am quite skeptical you knew it all although freemasons live in the perpetual illusion as they move up the ladder that they do.

Brown, who seems to me to be a vacuous person claimed his wife did the research and that he had never fully read HBHG. Personally I think he is not only a liar but set the wifely "in between" on legal advice. He didn't say 'my wife never fully read the book" he simply isolated himself as "an author" creating a story from anecdotes his wife told to him. Were he a decent person he'd have included Baigent and co in the fabulous sums he has made through extrapolating on their compilations.

Those who claim Baigent and co just didn't take up the opportunity to create the fiction are in my mind as vacuous as Browm. Don't give us this "well he was great bloke he even acknowledged a Baigent characer" and then in the bext breath tell us he owed baigent nothing. Sounds to me like a Judge Judy's narcissistic mumbo jumbo posing as law.

The court essentially decided that the common knowledge could not be an accusation of "plagarism" however the informations were common knowledge primarily owing to HBHG.Did Brown and his wife visit the sauniere church and surrounding lands? I have.You need a long stay and some good contacts to get to the non tourist areas. One can buy books there which are very detailed but whilst it is claimed Brown did not visit Rennes le Chateau he does use the surname of Berenger Sauniere around whom the mystery of Rennes revolved.Personally I suspect Brown would be too lazy to walk up the hill but as Rennes was another focus of Baigent perhaps his memory slipped.

Be all that as it may I realise as a well educated but somewhat skeptical catholic I am aware that it is unlikely Brown did much research on the Opus Dei. The greatest pity of all for me personally (setting aside the injustice to Baigent and Co) is that people think Brown has discovered some stream of mystic knowledge in his often fanciful and unfortunately often a bit boring writings. Well educated as I said I immediately detected faulty conclusions in some of Baigent and Leighs HBHG but a very strong stream of research was there.

None of that existed in Brown's work, he simply lifted it.his mad monk could well have been based on Rasputin or any character from "the name of the Rose" time machined into our era. I am only speculating of course...I do know that some readers of Brown may not be able to cope with the more learned Baigent though I found HBHG a great read.The Jesus Conspiracy, Jesus the Man and such books are also fascinating. I have visited places mentioned such as the Dominican Church in St Maximin la Sante Baume and found long before I read either book some seriously profound questions staring me in the face, seemingly un-noticed by others. If nothing else I hope that these books will start some people at least researching not so much lollywater as is in browns novels, but truth and mystery.Voila

LastLoup's picture
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1) Jesus was a human being and, dare I say, a philosopher, a seeker of wisdom and truth. *sky falls*

2) Neither side is a saint in the matter, they have all stirred the waters and have unknowingly convinced several people to pack their bags, go to France, and drive the tour guides crazy with irritating questions.

3) Aside from several of his foibles, Dan Brown's worst crime was adding fuel to the fire of underground conspirators who reemerged from the soil of contempt and hatred like a group of blind cicadas. For years they had been quietly picking apart books like HBHG and when Brown came by with new conspiracies (I KNOW he stated they were fiction, but...) that allowed them to use this new ammo to shoot down innocent people or societies.

I am going to say this right now, I am not a fan of Dan Brown. Many of his little tid-bits found in his stories have misguided the masses and even though he says it's fiction, he's really not doing anything to stop them believing that Bernini sculpted Illuminati clues in the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, for example. He isn't because it sells books. All this being said, I will credit him AND the writers of HBHG for invigorating the human imagination and re-opening doors to the occult and esoteric thinking that the world has left in the dust.

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................