‘Da Vinci Code’ Raises Intellectual Issues

The Internet and advancing digital technology play havoc with intellectual property law, but sometimes a copyright conflict is as low-tech as the esoteric conspiracy theories underpinning “The Da Vinci Code.?

Like, for instance, when authors of an earlier book attempt to sue the pants off Dan Brown over the breakneck-paced thriller (coming soon to a theater near you. Consider yourself warned). Brown’s conspiracy theory involved the bloodline of Jesus (and Mary Magdalene) having survived the crucifixion and spread through Europe to pretty much every royal line in every defunct or statutory monarchy. It was lifted more or less wholesale from an earlier work of purported nonfiction entitled “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,? that cross-pollinated ingeniously circumstantial theories on how Jesus could’ve easily faked his death on the cross (a theory that does not, strangely, slay ’em at cocktail parties) with Knights Templar goofiness and secret-society illuminati paranoia.

Two of the three authors of that rollicking tome are suing Brown’s publisher (which is also their own publisher) in a U.K. courtroom. Since the Brits don’t have plagiarism laws, the suit alleges copyright violation. According to The Scotsman newspaper, the case will either fall as flat as Brown’s prose or will thoroughly rewrite British copyright law.

The “Holy Blood? writers have the right idea: Brown has sold nearly 50 million copies of that silly book, and is probably scuba-diving in a drained swimming pool full of cash at this very moment. But if you haven’t written a book that Brown “used for research,? maybe there’s still a way to go with the cash flow. Several shots have been taken at filing class actions against James Frey for making up facts in an ostensible memoir (plaintiffs seeking reimbursement for the cover price and time lost). If someone were to contrast Brown’s assertion, at the front of his book, that the historical data in his novel is absolutely true with the midsized armada of Web sites and news articles debunking even the simplest of Brown’s “facts,” maybe we could all file Frey suits.

Ambitious class action attorneys, apply within.

— Brian McDonough

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One Response to “‘Da Vinci Code’ Raises Intellectual Issues”

  1. felixd Says:

    too much hype in these issues of DaVincci

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