Two authors who claimed The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s hugely successful thriller, stole much of its content from their earlier non-fiction book on Wednesday lost their legal copyright case in London.
The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the authors, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who co-authored, along with a third individual, the non-fiction work The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.
Their book was first published in 1982 and was described by the pair as “a work of historical conjecture”. It included the ideas that Jesus was of royal blood and that he may have been married to Mary Magdalene and had children. It also suggested that some time after Jesus’s crucifixion, Mary Magdalene may have gone to southern France and established a bloodline there. These are all ideas that surface in The Da Vinci Code.
Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh argued Mr Brown had infringed their copyright by copying a “substantial part” of their book in six chapters of The Da Vinci Code.
A High Court judge had dismissed their claim, brought against Random House, Mr Brown’s publisher, and on Wednesday three senior appeal court judges upheld that decision.
The judges said that while aspects of the so-called “central theme” in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail had been used in The Da Vinci Code – along with material from other sources – the judge had not been wrong in his ultimate conclusion that the claimants had failed to establish that “a substantial part” of the earlier book had been copied.