Having seen, with my own two eyes, Indiana Jones receive the Holy Grail from a 1,000-year-old character actor in phony chain mail, I've had a hard time getting worked up about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Still, I've been impressed by the way the anti-Brown reaction revealed the obscure but common bond among art historians, book critics, and Roman Catholics. Now Salon's Laura Miller tracks a further complication—the fight over ownership of the book's made-up facts:
A cozy situation for Brown, but it became somewhat less so recently when, in the U.K., a lawsuit was filed against him for "breach of copyright of ideas and research." The complainants, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, are the coauthors, with Henry Lincoln, of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a bestseller from the early 1980s. Virtually all the bogus history in "The Da Vinci Code"—nearly everything, in other words, that today's readers' find so electrifying in Brown's novel—is lifted from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail."
This puts both Brown and the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," in a tricky position. Baigent et al. have always maintained that the "facts" supporting their theories are available to any dedicated scholar and that the theories themselves, while unconventional, have been seriously entertained by other "experts," (including some, they claim, in the "upper echelons" of the Roman Catholic Church).
Since "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" presents itself as nonfiction, it has been in its authors' interest to downplay how much of it is invented. However, if the "research" and ideas in "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" are not the original creations of the book's authors, they become harder to copyright, and the possible infringement suit against Brown might be weakened. No one, after all, has a copyright on the facts surrounding Abraham Lincoln's assassination or the Treaty of Versailles.
Whole article, including voluminous refutations of what sound like paper-thin historical theories, here (reg. req.).
(A: He got hung up on the boards.)