Holy Blood and the Holy Grail author sues over Da Vinci Code

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of the 1982 nonfiction book “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,” are suing publisher Random House, Inc. over the allegation that parts of their work formed the basis of Dan Brown’s novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and remains high on best seller lists nearly three years after publication.

I’m really baffled by how this is supposed to stand-up in court, but I haven’t read Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. It seems what happened is that Brown summarized the thesis of HBHG and proposed a counter-thesis within the framework of a fictional story. How is that a copyright violation?

MSNBC: Authors claim ‘Da Vinci Code’ stole ideas


  1. 1. There’s no way this can stand up in court unless Brown outright lifted paragraphs. Ideas are free, other people’s words are not.

    2. Baigent and Leigh should be thanking Brown for getting them booked on the history channel and to cocktail hour lectures for life.

    3. Holy Blood Holy Grail is enough of a detective story to begin with that it makes me wonder why it had to be written into fiction to become popular, but then again, it’s easier to sell trade paperbacks than things in the “nonfiction” section.

    3. Man, this is an old wound for me. I read that Priory of Sion stuff when I was like 15 and it ruined my life. But then my schtick, that everybody told me was just nuts, got fucking co-opted and now it’s in everybody’s hands on the subway… this must be how the first generation punk rockers feel.

  2. Even Shakespeare had to put up with lawsuits about lifted themes and ideas, didn’t he?

  3. I’ve read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and I will tell you that the themes of the two books are extremely similar – a little too close for comfort; but considering that Brown does cite the book as a reference,etc., I think he’s covered enough ground to keep the suit from costing him money.

  4. Hm, the article looks very different today than it did yesterday… am I going crazy? There’s parts in it I don’t remember reading. Also, I thought I remembered reading that part of the controversy was about how Brown organized his ideas. One can copyright the way ideas are organized.

    I liked what Exploding Aardvark had to say: “I read Holy Blood back in 1985 or ?86, and it is true that when I read Da Vinci Code, the similarity in theme struck me?but the suit just seems odd, like if the author of a history of Chicago were to sue another author for setting his fiction in historical Chicago. It?s almost an admission that they intended their book entirely as fiction to begin with. To hell with searching for truth?show us the money! Hey, whatever.” http://www.fpmrecords.com/cgi-bin/blosxom.cgi/2006/02/27#da_vinci_code_lawsuit

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