Bloomberg.com (and many others) reports that Friday, April 7th, will be the day that judgment will be rendered in the Doubleday vs. HBHG Authors case, which began in late February:
A judge in London is due to decide tomorrow whether Dan Brown plagiarized the plot of his best- selling "The Da Vinci Code" from two other writers. Judging by book sales, readers may not care.
More than 500,000 copies of Brown's thriller were sold in the first week after its paperback release on March 28, Random House Inc.'s Anchor Books said yesterday. Promotion of the film version, due in May, and reports of the U.K. lawsuit have boosted interest in the novel, said Russell Perreault, director of publicity at Anchor and Vintage books.
"It's really been a perfect storm of events,'' Perreault said in an interview. ``There are still a lot of people out there who have been waiting for the paperback to come out.''
Historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing Random House, Brown's publisher, for copyright infringement. They claim the author lifted the theory that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child from their non-fiction ``The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,'' published more than 20 years earlier.
The case, which opened at London's High Court on Feb. 27, drew packed courtrooms for three weeks. It has also sparked a sales revival for Baigent and Leigh's book. Sales of ``The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail'', which graced the New York Times bestseller list in the 1980s, surged 26-fold in Britain and sixfold in the U.S. during the trial, according to figures provided by Nielsen BookScan and Bookseller magazine, a trade publication.
What are the stakes? Mercury News reports:
A victory by Baigent and Leigh would stun the world of copyright law, challenging the concept that copyright protects the expression of an idea rather than the idea itself.
"A victory for Leigh and Baigent would make it very difficult for novelists, particularly historical novelists," said Fiona Crawley, a copyright expert with law firm Bryan Cave LLP.
"They go to source books to research the history to incorporate into their novel. It would call into question how they can research a historical novel without being accused of copyright infringement by the historian who has written the key work on that incident in history."
A win by the plaintiffs also could hold up the scheduled May 19 film release of "The Da Vinci Code" movie, starring Tom Hanks. Sony Pictures says it plans to release the film as scheduled. If Leigh and Baigent lose, they could have to pay costs that legal experts estimate will top $1.75 million.
Hmmmm....I don't think I'd want to be in the shoes of Leigh and Baigent at this point. Sure, it's obvious that Brown relied heavily on their book for key passages in his novel, but my highly subjective and non-expert opinion is that the judge will lean toward Doubleday on this one. Regardless, those who have paid close attention and have actually read Brown's witness statement know that the novelist's claims to deep and serious research have been thoroughly discredited. But does it matter? Probably not much. The paperback version of the novel sold 500,000 copies this past week, setting yet more publishing records.