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Monday, March 26, 2012

Dan Brown's lawyer: No RAW defense in plagiarism trial

Dan Brown, author of the mega-bestselling The Da Vinci Code, was sued for plagiarism by two of  the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the conspiracy theory book which claims that the Merovingian dynasty in France was descended from Jesus Christ. The judge ruled that as Holy Blood claimed to be history, Brown had the right to base a historical novel on it, just as any  novelist might use history as part of his material.

I have wondered for awhile now whether Brown's lawyers cited The Widow's Son by Robert Anton Wilson as part of their defense. After all, The Widow's Son also bases much of its plot on Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Wilson cited the book in the novel's footnotes. 

If the authors of Holy Blood believed that basing a novel's plot on their book was "plagiarism," then why didn't they object to The Widow's Son? Could it be, perhaps, that their objection to The Da Vinci Code was not based on principle, but on a desire to seize some of Brown's profits?

Via the Internet I tracked down John Baldwin, a British lawyer who is an expert on intellectual property and who represented Brown in the plagiarism lawsuit. I explained my interest in the case and asked Baldwin if The Widow's Son had come up during the trial.

Baldwin kindly took the time to email a reply to me. "As far as I can recall, Mr Wilson’s book was not brought up during the Da Vinci Code trial," he wrote.


michael said...

Thanks for this sleuth-werk, Tom.

In a RAW interview in the book Secrets of Angels & Demons: An Unauthorized Guide to the Bestselling Novel, edited by Burstein and De Keijzer:

Q: You're familiar with the plot of Angels and Demons. What sort of fictional or conspiratorial sources do you detect in it?

RAW: Immodestly, I see a lot of my own influence. And a lot of the books (allegedly non-fiction) about the Priory of Sion.

Anonymous said...

If Dan Brown had copied 25% of the author's idea, then he is guilty of plagiarism. I don't think that the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail are after the money.

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Clarck said...