Thursday, March 29, 2007

Da Vinci Code

The Court of Appeal this week rejected Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's appeal against their first instance defeat in a claim against Dan Brown. Their central allegation was that large passages of the Da Vinci Code were copied from their earlier work the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

The case is interesting because it asks the question just how far does the protection of copyright extend? Undoubtedly there are similarities between the two books. When does drawing inspiration from an earlier work become copying it? There are only a limited number of plots anyway (some say only seven) so it is rare to come across a genuinely original novel.

Do both books fall foul of the ancient laws of blasphemy still in force in England and Wales?

The Da Vinci Code (and to some extent Angels and Demons also by Dan Brown) also raises difficult questions about the dividing line between fact and fiction. There is something uncomfortable about fictionalising the lives of real historical people, especially when that fiction is presented as though it is the truth.
I hope to write more about the Court of Appeal decision next week, once i've had the chance to digest it!

3 comments:

Charon QC said...

A minor evidential point.... and possibly with philosophical implications.

You state: "There is something uncomfortable about fictionalising the lives of real historical people, especially when that fiction is presented as though it is the truth."

Would The Bible stand up to evidential scrutiny on the 'realness' of (a) the principal players (b) the extraordinary events described... a different question, possibly, from blasphemy?

Anonymous said...

Point 1:

Corporate Blawg thinks that what makes good fiction is when that fiction is presented as truth.

Take Robinson Crusoe, or Steppenwolf, or any book which has a fictitious introduction by the person who "recounts" the story.

Point 2:

Any biography will contain subjective truth, censored facts, and artistic licence. The only truth we can ever be certain about with real historical people is that they were real people.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Will be interested to hear more on this Tim.