When I saw the headline that read Date set for Da Vinci Code plagiarism trial. I just had to click through to read it. I figured it could only be one of two things. The first that Dan Brown had somehow filed suit against himself for plagiarising his first novel Angels and Demons, which didn’t seem likely, the second being that Dan Brown and his publishers had finally gotten around to suing the people who made the movie National Treasure. It turns out it was neither. It is actually Dan Brown and his publisher being sued (it is short so I will quote it all):
LONDON (Reuters) – Two historians are suing the publishers of Dan Brown’s best-selling religious thriller “The Da Vinci Code” in a case which lawyers said Thursday was due to start early next year. Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent are suing Random House for lifting “the whole architecture” of the research that went into their 1982 non-fiction book “The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail.”
Lawyers on both sides of the case met Thursday to thrash out technical details, and said a trial date had been set for February 27.
They would not comment on how the trial might affect sales of the hugely successful novel or the distribution of a major Hollywood adaptation which Sony Pictures plans to release in May next year.
Random House said a “substantial” part of the claim by Baigent and Leigh had been dropped as a result of Thursday’s discussions, and added in a statement:
“Random House is delighted with this result, which reinforces its long-held contention that this is a claim without merit.”
A spokeswoman for Leigh said he still intended to pursue his claim against the publishers of Brown’s book, which has 36 million copies in print worldwide and has upset Catholics for suggesting Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child by her.
The same theory is put forward in The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail.
Commentators have pointed out that a major character in Dan Brown’s book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. A third author of the 1982 book, Henry Lincoln, has decided to stay out of the action.
Ironically, a special hardback, illustrated version of their book, called Holy Blood, Holy Grail has just been reissued by none other than Random House.
In August, Brown won a court ruling against another writer, Lewis Perdue, who claimed The Da Vinci Code copied elements of two of his novels, “Daughter of God” and “The Da Vinci Legacy.”
Perdue had sought $150 million in damages and asked the court to block distribution of the book and the movie adaptation, which features Tom Hanks alongside French actress Audrey Tautou.
That is hardly how I thought this was all going to come down. Of course the fact that I found it in the Odd News section might be an indicator of just how seriously the allegations are being taken. The allegations are pretty ridiculous when it comes right down to it. I don’t know if Brown ever looked at the particular book that they are suing him for plagiarising, but I am damn sure that Brown did a lot of homework on the book to make sure he had everything else (location, pictures, etc.) covered. I bet he referenced tons of non-fiction while he was researching aspects of the plot of the novel. That is what you do if you want people to take this type of a novel seriously.
Trying to sue someone for researching a subject before writing about it is a bit suspect anyway. That would necessarily mean that every college thesis is basically plagiarism. You have to reference dictionaries and reference books to build a base for the project, not to mention newspapers and magazines, yep, you plagiarised them all. Nevermind the fact that you are only looking for actual facts. Hell, I have been plagiarizing math my entire life: at some point I read that 1+1=2, I have written that very statement many times over the years.
What I really loved about the article, though, was this quote: Commentators have pointed out that a major character in Dan Brown’s book, Sir Leigh Teabing, has a name that is an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. First off, the characters name is Sir Leigh Teabing, which is in no way an anagram of Leigh and Baigent. If you were to leave the “Sir” off of his name you could spell Leigh, you could spell Baigent, but where the hell would you get the and? Second, if you were really plagiarising someone’s work, would you make an anagram of their name that only required moving a letter or two? Personally I would at least mix the letters together rather than using the exact name for the first name then barely mixing up the last. I would never use a name like Mark Waint if I happened to be ripping off Samuel Langhorne Clemens Mark Twain. Tim Warnak is the first name that I can quickly anagram from Mark Twain, and, as an added bonus, it doesn’t seem to make it glaringly obvious that it is an anagram.
The lawsuit seems to be claiming that when those two guys wrote a book in 1982, they were the only ones in the entire world that had ever thought that maybe Jesus had actually married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child or children, which is completely untrue. There are even some religious scholars that admit it is a possibility, since the biblical texts are far from a complete and accurate historical document. However, religious scholars are not Priests (or the pope for that matter), therefore the church refuses to accept any possibility the Jesus ever fornicated with a woman (or man. Had to throw that in just to piss off religious zealots). I can see their logic. The bible doesn’t say that Jesus ever married anyone, sex out of wedlock is a sin, Jesus never sinned, therefore he died a virgin.
Thing is that the bible leaves out a lot of important details. Like why God hid a bunch of huge dinosaur bones under the ground, forced them to fossilize, then let modern man find them. Were you to take the bible literally, you would simply have to believe that Noah loaded two of every dinosaur onto his boat, along with two of every other species on the planet (many of which eat wood, which must have sucked. Imagine trying to save all of the species only to find that on your fifth day, out of forty, the insects have eaten the majority of your boat. Sucks to be Noah). That must have been a damn big boat, and a monumental undertaking. I would probably be more inclined to believe the story had the bible started out, “In the beginning, God created a Huge ass boat, knowing he would need it later. Then he created the Heavens and the Earth, which was easy stuff after that boat. God realized that the boat would not actually fit on the face of the earth so, rather than scrapping the boat (he spent some time on that thing, it was all pimped out), he killed all of his pet dinosaurs and hid them way under the ground. God then used his power to shrink the boat to such a point as it would fit on the earth (sail the earth? not so much, it was still big enough that, stern to bow, it was roughly the diameter of the earth). God then killed off many other large species of animals, in the hopes that he would be able to get his boat small enough to actually be able to move around the earth using its waterways. Once God had destroyed hundreds of thousands of species, he got angry and said God Damn It. God ordered Noah to load onto the boat whatever would fit, which was roughly 300 species. Now God had to atone for the sin of using his own name in vain. It took him millennia to figure it out, but he eventually decided on the “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” scam: Pretend to have a son, make the people crucify him (as his son), boom, instant atonement for his sin.”
Makes more sense than the bible.
This has gone a bit off topic though (can you say understatement?). I am gonna call it a post.