As you may have heard at some point in the last few weeks, “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown was sued by fellow authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”. The two asserted that Brown had violated copyright by taking elements from their book and using it in his own. The verdict was handed down today:
“The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown and his publishing house were cleared of copyright infringement in a British court Friday, with the judge finding the lawsuit based on a contrived and “selective number of facts and ideas.”
“It would be quite wrong if fictional writers were to have their writings pored over in the way DVC (`Da Vinci Code’) has been pored over in this case by authors of pretend historical books to make an allegation of infringement of copyright,” Judge Peter Smith said in his 71-page ruling.
The result should not surprise anyone, and this is where the idea for a conspiracy theory comes from. Let’s review a few facts:
- “The Da Vinci Code” is fiction, while “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” is nonfiction. Does it make any sense for a work of fiction to be accused of copyrighting a work of supposed fact? Brown’s book is probably similar to hundreds of books and documents, because he uses a real idea as the basis for his fictional story. Whether or not Brown did any research or not, the idea that works of fiction could be sued for using real-world ideas is absurd.
- “The Da Vinci Code” hardcover edition is published by Doubleday, which is a division of Random House. The paperback is published under Anchor, which is an imprint of Knopf, which is also a division of Random House. “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” hardcover is published by Delacorte, and the paperback by Dell, both of which are also divisions of Random House.
- According to an article at BusinessWeek, Baigent and Leigh spent “two years on the lawsuit and nearly $3.5 million, between their own legal expenses, and Random House’s fees.” Something tells me they don’t have that kind of money, so maybe Random House has got their back?
- Sales of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” have greatly benefited from the trial, as explained in this CBS News article: “Amazon.com reported a 3,500 percent increase in sales right after the trial began…”
- Giles Elliott of Bookseller Magazine was quoted recently as saying, “The trial means both books are getting worldwide attention and sales increases in the UK have been dramatic.” He says sales of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” increased 745% in the UK alone in the first week of the trial.
And it should come as no surprise that “The Da Vinci Code” has dominated bestseller lists for the last two or three years. As you can see, there is lots of evidence to suggest that Random House had something to do with it, as the lawsuit was a win-win for them. And I’m certainly not the first person to suggest this, I just wanted to collect some of the ideas into one place.
So what do you think, is Random House behind the lawsuit?