PLEASE READ THESE FACTS FIRST:

  • Random House sued ME; not the other way around.
  • Random House filed suit to silence the facts I was posting on the web.
  • There has been NO trial on the facts, only the Random House effort to prevent a trial.
  • The only sworn statements made under penalty of perjury are affidavits from me and my experts, nothing from RH.
  • The judge refused to consider any expert analysis.
  • Despite suing me first, Random House & Sony UNsuccessfully demanded that I pay the $310,000 in legal fees they spent to sue me.
  • Contrary to the Random House spin, I am not alleging plagiarism of general issues, but of several hundred very specific ones.
  • This is not about money. Anything I win goes to charity.

Legal filings and the expert witness reports are HERE

I have a second blog, Writopia
which focuses on Dan Brown's pattern of falsehoods
and embellishment of his personal achievements.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Brown's Witless Statement Critiqued

This blog post, "Dan Brown's statement to the court tells us how little he knows," by Sandra Miesel (co-author with Carl Olson of, "The Da Vinci Hoax"), offers a concise summary.

There are more details, of course and I'd urge everyone to read Dan's witness statement to discover things for themselves.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dan: Just "Reworking" Not Plagiarizing?

Regardless of how the trial comes out in London, Dan and Blythe are now known as shameless rippers-off of other people's work -- a far cry from their previous statements about their so-called extensive research.

As a university faculty member, I frequently gave an "F" to unoriginal and desperate college students who diligently to altered what they copied in hopes that the copying would not be discovered.

London shows clearly why Random House is so desperate to keep my issues from coming to trial, why they had to sue me to shut me up and why they would not let Dan testify under oath here.

By JILL LAWLESS,
Associated Press Writer
Wed Mar 15, 12:25 PM ET

LONDON - Dan Brown returned to the witness stand Wednesday and acknowledged "reworking" passages from an earlier book for his best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code," but he firmly rejected charges that he ripped off key ideas for his conspiracy thriller.

Brown said "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" was "one of the books in the mix" when he and his wife, Blythe Brown, were researching the novel.

He acknowledged "reworking" passages from the earlier book.

"That's how you incorporate research into a novel," Brown said.


No, Dan. That's NOT how you incorporate research, at least not ethically, anyway.

Steal a little here, steal a little there. Alter the little pieces of fabric to hide the source, then stitch them together and produce a totally derivative and unoriginal patchwork quilt that you call your own and hope that no one notices the copying ... or that you have skirted the legalities.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's Just Fiction .... (Really!?)

I was clicking around some of Carl Olson's sites and finally found an article I have been looking for since the James Frey, A Million Little Pieces class action lawsuits were filed.

The London trial, along with many of my blog pieces here and at Writopia, pretty well confirm that Dan and Blythe Brown fabricated the details of much of their lives, just as Frey Did.

Further, the trial and the baker's dozen of DVCode "hoax" and "debunking" books have destroyed the notion that Dan conducted any research at all (much less the "extensive" research so heavily promoted by Random House). And much of the testimony showed that Blythe's research was simply retyped pages from HBHG and other sources.

So, like the Frey case, we have fabrications galore.

But has anyone suffered?

In AMLP (also published by Brown's publisher, Random House) , we have read numerous cases of people and recovering addicts, who feel deeply distressed, betrayed, crushed at the exposure of fraudulent claims. Their emotional distress and psychological damage form the basis of the class action lawsuits.

But, according to the loud refrain of the Random House spin machine, Da Vinci Code is "just fiction."

But as we and others have pointed out, that is NOT what Brown and Random House have been telling people. They have leveraged their sales by misleading people to believe that much of it is true and that it is based on the research of two diligent scholars.

But Da Vinci Code is "just fiction." How could that possibly leave anyone emotionally distressed or feeling betrayed?

Of all the counterarguments to this, I have found Carl Olson's March 14, 2005 article, to be the most complete and persuasive.

Yes, again someone who is not Catholic might quibble with some of the few theologically oriented references, but Olson's argument stands even when those are completely gone.

Is Dan Brown a "Liar?"

This post at the Da Vinci Hoax blog indicates that the London judge may think so.

This blog also has a courtwatcher "over there" with some insights and info losts by the MSM (Mainstream Media).

The blog is run by Sandra Miesel (bio) and Carl Olson (bio), co-authors of The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code (Ignatius Press, 2004) and is a companion site to their DaVinciHoax.com site, which contains numerous articles, interviews, and free downloads, as well as extended excerpts from The Da Vinci Hoax.

That last paragraph is brazenly plagiarized almost intact from their site.

Sandra and Carl have a point of view and have done an excellent job of defending a position that is consistent with contemporary Catholic teachings. While it is easy to find theological differences between them and me, I find far more grounds for agreement and recommend their work.

You do not have to agree with their religious viewpoints (nor mine either) to benefit from the work and analysis they have done.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Effects on the DVCode Movie

RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com left an interesting comment last light on my previous post. I've elevated it here because it is a good question:

I personally am most interested to see how this really does or does not effect the may release of DVC the movie. -- Fri Mar 17, 11:04:52 PM PST



My reply:

I don't thing it will -- or should -- affect the movie if the makers of it are careful.

First of all, Baigent & Leigh are making a weak case based on generalities.

Other than Dan Brown confirming that I was correct about the James-Frey-like biographical fabrications over on Writopia, (and that the legions of books debunking DVC's historical, factual and religious errors were also correct) the testimony confirmed that:

  • Dan did rely heavily on HBHG,
  • He was well-coached for cross-examination and conveniently can't remember details or historical fact,

  • There are contradictions between his statement and the Random House briefs in my case,
  • Blythe and not he conducted what research there exists,

  • Most of the well-hyped research consisted of pages of material copied from other authors and,

  • Blythe is the real force,

Baigent & Leigh don't seem to have proven any specific infringements in the expression.

While I am pulling for B&L for purely psychological reasons, and while I do think that there are probably real infringements there, I do not think that B&L have proven their case.

Testimony in the case has stripped away Dan and Blythe's false and pretentious biographical trappings and revealed DVC as the patchwork derivation of other writers' work that it is. But it does not seem to me (pontificating half a globe away) that they have proved theiir case.

As for the movie, a clever and careful script can avoid infringements. Plus, Baigent & Lee WANT the movie to do well if they win because -- while the movie can skirt plagiarism -- if B&L miraculously come out winners, they want there to be more money coming to RH.

Personally, I really like Tom Hanks and think that Ron Howard is one of the best producers ever. I don't care about the movie money angle, never have. In fact, it was never my idea to go after Sony. The money has never been the reason for my trying to get some measure of justice.

All I have ever wanted was an acknowledgement. Not money

Random House is the one who wanted to go nuclear over the mere suggestion of plagiarism and it was they who sued me.

Random House forced this whole thing out of the realm of private conversation and into the courts rather than having the few milliliters of class and decency it would have taken to have a quiet, private and calm conversation three years ago.

I have been consistent about my goals. Beyond my out-of-pocket costs to fight their ridiculous lawsuit, any money I may win will go to charity. I wish the movie, Tom Hanks and Ron Howard well.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

London: Details Devil Dan; Jovial Judge Joshes About

Dan Brown's testimony was book-ended by two publishers who added little to the proceedings.

The first few minutes were taken up by Patrick Janson-Smith (PJ-S) who was Baigent and Leigh's editor in the late 1970s/1980s. He also was the boss of the RH editor who bought the UK rights to DVC.

He indicated that he thought the two books were related, picked up on the Teabing anagram and assumed (erroneously) that Dan Brown had been in contact with Baigent and Leigh in his writing. He was rather shocked by the lawsuit and thought Baigent and Leigh were "making fools of themselves" and that their legal central themes were not ones he thought were central themes of HBHG.

Still, Baigent and Leigh's barrister might have gotten some mileage out of the fact that he saw clear connections between the two books--although a lot of books have been produced in this "genre" over the years.

Then it was back to Dan on the stand and he was again led through his research process--which is to say Blythe Brown's research process--and led to a large number of selections of DVC text that correspond quite directly to HBHG.

Baigent and Leigh's barrister traced out the connections through Blythe Brown's research documents and frequently got Dan to concede that HBHG was the likely source of a range of phrases and sentences.

There were about a dozen of these over the course of the day. The word alterations in a lot of cases were pretty minor "worthy of the Gestapo or KGB" in HBHG became "worthy of the CIA" in DVC in a description of the Church's Friday 13 hit on the Templars.

Dan Brown tried to say that it was all historical fact, which generally it is, but both Baigent and Leigh's barrister and the judge were not quite accepting that, finding some significance in his use of clearly similar language.

The Judge: "that is a different point ... whether it is history or not, you've taken the language from HBHG."

A few of the examples seemed rather overdrawn, but most of them seemed rather clear and had connections in Blythe Brown's notes. Dan Brown was "fine" with a variety of conclusions that HBHG was the original source of the information, although on occasion he would point out where he/RH's research team had been able to find other possible sources.

The Grand Master list was carefully traced back to Dan/Blythe Brown's copy of HBHG in their notes on the list, some alterations, and a few misspellings (including Botticelli) that appeared in Blythe Brown's handwriting.

Misspellings/US-UK spellings seem to play an interesting role in this case. Yesterday it was shown how Blythe Brown misspelled Leigh's name in a document and Dan had corrected it; Dan said Blythe Brown might not have known how to spell his name.

Baigent and Leigh's barrister: "but you did" suggesting Dan's familiarity with Baigent and Leigh at an early stage.

In this vein, the US Perdue case came in at one point as RH had used HBHG in that case as a "historical source" along with a book about the Gnostic Gospels.

Interestingly, Dan's US copy of HBHG had a UK spelling of "Saviour" while the Gnostic Gospels used a similar quote with an American spelling.

In DVC, Sophie when reading has "Saviour" with UK spelling.

Judge: "Further down there is an American 'Savior' (laughter in court room). When Sophie reads, she reads in English.(more laughter in the courtroom)"

Baigent and Leigh's barrister suggests that this indicates Dan Brown was copying from HBHG and the judge chuckled and nodded vigorously in the affirmative.

The they moved to the Council of Nicea for more similarities which included the words "mortal Prophet" -- Dan Brown said many people use "mortal Prophet" and that the whole religion of Islam thought Jesus was a mortal Prophet, was Baigent and Leigh's barrister suggesting that he couldn't use those two words?

Baigent and Leigh's barrister : "we're not saying you can't use the words"

Judge: "can it be in the film? (lots of laughter)". The judge was in a merry mood today, it seemed.

This does raise the point that a Baigent and Leigh win could stop release of the DVC film.

At the end of the day, the judge asked the parties if there was going to be a discussion of the potential damages Baigent and Leigh suffered and the two sides indicated that that was *not* going to be discussed, at least at this point.

Baigent and Leigh's barrister finished his questioning with some relentless questions about how Dan could testify to where anything came from when Blythe Brown did all the research and summarised everything for him, often without citation.

Didn't this sort of research arrangement and unattributed notes create a danger for Dan.

Dan Brown wondered why, he wasn't writing a history textbook.

Then Baigent and Leigh's barrister got into a discussion of what Dan meant by the word "plagiarism".

He didn't come quite out and accuse him of it, but it seemed obvious from the previous questions that Dan would have a hard time knowing one way or the other whether he plagiarised if Blythe Brown was copying things verbatim and handing him computer printout with no citations.

Baigent and Leigh's barrister finished with Dan and judge asked him if it was the position of Baigent and Leigh's barrister that Dan Brown had read HBHG before he came up with the synopsis.

Some discussion occurred between the complainants solicitors--presumably there might be problems accusing a witness of lying--and then they said no, they accepted he might not have read HBHG before then, but it would be their case that Blythe Brown could have and that they would deal with her separately.

So it looks like they will try and saddle Dan with the notorious and not-very-credible plagiarist's classic defence "I had no idea, I was just copying notes and it was my researcher's notes" (Stephen Ambrose comes to mind in this regard).

The final bookend of the day came with the Doubleday editor/publisher testifying. Stephen Rubin testified but didn't really add much to the proceedings. Afterwards, we all picked up witness statements from the publicists/lawyers, but they were short and weren't all that interesting.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

No Comment Needed

From Dan Brown's witness statement (points 67, 68)


"I did receive numerous offers for the film rights to Angels & Demons, but I turned them down as they were not enough money and not with major studios.

"This was not an easy time financially. I remember that we were forced to literally sell books out of our car at low profile publishing events."

Brown Whines About Simon & Schuster and St. Martin's Press

Brown's witness statement, posted online by The Times contains some choice comments about his former publishers.

He echoes a common gripe most authors have (whether they deserve to gripe or not). But whining about it in a public forum?

The following are Brown's words which are unchanged. I have added some new paragraph breaks to make it easier to read.


Promotion of The Da Vinci Code

213. I am quite Sure that a great deal of the success of The Da Vinci Code is down to the excellent promotion the book received. The Da Vinci Code got a huge launch.

My first three books were barely promoted.

There were more Advance Reader Copies given away for free of The Da Vinci Code than the whole print run for Angels & Demons.

I am convinced that The Da Vinci Code would have failed if it had been published by my previous publishers - equally, I think Angels & Demons would have been a big success if published by Random House [emphasis added] with as much fanfare as they brought to The Da Vinci Code. Angels & Demons is perhaps even more controversial (it deals with a Pope who had a child), and many people have told me they actually prefer it to The Da Vinci Code.

64. After our trip to Rome, I had completed an outline for Angels & Demons, including a grand finale at CERN, which ultimately I did not use.

St. Martin's Press (SMP, my publisher for Digital Fortress) wanted to buy Angels & Demons, but I had been frustrated by their lack of promotional effort on my behalf.

I had taken matters into my own hands. I spent my own money on publicity. I booked more than a hundred radio interviews, doing several a day for months.

Despite good reviews, a very newsworthy/timely topic, and all of my grassroots efforts, the novel sold poorly. I decided that I would change publishing houses. I got an offer from Simon & Schuster, who wanted to buy Angels & Demons based on my outline and promised me a much larger publicity campaign.

65. Because Simon & Schuster had purchased my book in advance, 1 now was writing knowing that 1 [NOTE: looks like that last was a typo from scanning on the Times site] had a publisher.

I was encouraged because Simon & Schuster said they were extremely excited by Angels & Demons. They promised to give the book considerably more publicity and support than my previous publishers. Their proposed publicity included a much larger print run (60,000), advertising in major newspapers, web advertising, a 12 city tour, an e-book release, and other exciting prospects.

66. Unfortunately, when the book came out, my print run was slashed down to 12,000 copies with virtually no publicity at all.

I was once again on my own and despite enthusiastic reviews, the novel sold poorly. Blythe and I were heartbroken as we had put so much work into this book.

Once again, we took matters into our own hands, booking our own signings, booking our own radio shows, and selling books out of our car at local events.

London: Brown Sweats & Forgets; Blythe Ascends

First a note: Dan Brown's witness statement has been posted online by The Times. It makes for some very interesting reading. Now, for the dispatch from our London correspondent.



Summary of yesterday's (Tuesday) proceedings, 14 March, Court 61, London.

Dan Brown went through some tough moments yesterday; not as excruciating as during Baigent's testimony, but he has found his and Blythe's actions under the microscope in a way that he probably never imagined.

All of the tediousness of Monday's proceedings is starting to reveal its rationale -- having established the sorts of writing that Blythe Brown did in the margins of books, the types of documents she produced and the 39 books that DB/BB consulted, the barrister for Baigent & Leigh started working to establish when DB had access to HBHG.

A quick summary of the timeline as presented by DB -- he/
Blythe started research on DVC in the summer of 2000 and he put together a brief synopsis for his agent in Jan 2001 (including the Boticelli Code and the Nostradamus Code).

Shortly thereafter he produced a longer synopsis of perhaps 40-50 pages of DVC. These contained the core outline of the book, although there were numerous changes in the final edition from this synopsis the main outlines of the core plot were present.

A sidenote on elements that changed between synopsis and publication -- Silas was originally named Oedipus (an anagram of Opus Dei that DB "first thought was clever, then thought was a bit too clever"), Sophie's grandfather was originally her father, the Teabing villian was introduced later replacing a consular officer who was the villian, a Shroud of Turin plot line was dropped, etc.

According to DB, he mainly relied on 7 books (primarily the Templar Revelation--TR) which are listed in a bibliography to his synopsis. HBHG was not included in these seven so DB says he didn't use it then. He claims he only got to HBHG later in the research, late 2001 by his reckoning.

However,
the barrister for Baigent & Leigh has been able to demonstrate that there is substantial circumstantial evidence DB/BB had access to HBHG prior to the synopsis.

DB's copy of TR has on its cover some blurb about being the best book since HBHG. The judge points this out. They look inside DB's copy of TR and there is on one page where there is a reference to HBHG a notation in
Blythe's hand that reads "get this book".

The barrister for Baigent & Leigh
suggests this indicates that when DB/BB were intensively using TR they got HBHG and that they know they were using that in the summer of 2000.

DB said no, if he had gotten HBHG he would have put it in the bibliography to impress his publisher. The judge points out that TR refers to HBHG as "the essential source" for Mary bloodline topics and asks sceptically "how could you miss it?"

Brown's synopsis contains a reference in a poem about the Merovingians to "mer" being the French word for sea and "vin" being vine.

His witness statement suggets he got this from Woman in the Alabastar Jar (WAJ), p. 62.

However, that is *not* the construction in WAJ, there "Mer" is referred to as "Mary" so the combination of vine of Mary would have blookdline implications that might be important to DVC's main theme.

Where then does "Mer" as sea appear? It is mentioned in that construction in HBHG, so
the barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests that that little snippet/textual similarity of the synopsis indicates that he had access to HBHG prior to Jan 2001.

DB: "that isn't logical" at which point we had an intervention from the judge:"I think it's very logical; you just don't agree with it."

DB is forced to concede that point. DB claims his "knowledge of French" led him to that conclusion -- this was not mentioned in his witness statement where he said it was WAJ.

The judge suggests to DB "your point is not a sustainable one".

A few other items come up -- HBHG evidently has a constitution of the Priory that indicates that secrets are passed from parents to children.

In the original synopsis Sophie's father is trying to pass the secret to her. This is changed later to grandfather, but the barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests that HBHG's stress on the parental secret passing was the source of this initial father-daughter line-up.

A weaker point than the previous one, but perhaps indicative.

Some members of the press found it very persuasive in conversations afterwards.

They then move to a document that seems to have come 90% from the internet. It has red text for a direct internet cut&paste job of major portions of Ch 12 of HBHG.

The web page it comes from is known. There is additional commentary in black text.
The barrister for Baigent & Leigh suggests that commentary, which summarises portions of ch 12 missing from the direct cut&paste were put in by Blythe.

DB thinks not as much of the black text has British spellings. Seems a good point for DB.

DB also says the document is too well formatted to be
Blythe's work as she tended to have just typed out documents she would "never" have had something that was typeset so well.

The barrister for Baigent & Leigh indicates they have another document or two that Blythe created that she did take a great deal of care on in a virtually identical fashion. In any event, DB's copy of HBHG has many markings in ch 12 at exactly the points where text was copied/summarised in this "research document" there is also reference to "notes" in Blythe's handwriting in the margins.

This seems a bit tedious, it is not entirely clear that
Blythe did the typing with UK spellings, but the clincher -- of possible great relevance is that the computer file this was all in was created in Sept 2000, a full four months before the synopsis. It again seems to demonstrate that HBHG info was in DB's possession prior to the Jan 2001 synopsis.

A small, but perhaps telling point, DB claims that much of the markings in his copy of HBHG (which far exceed the markings in any other of his 39 books) were done during a "refresher exercise" when he was on book tour and found he couldn't answer the historical questions being raised.

At that point he asked Blythe for help with the history ("I'm a fiction writer, not a historian") and she marked up HBHG extensively as part of that preparation.

The barrister for Baigent & Leigh is doubtful, he is doggedly suggesting that most, if not all, the marking up came during the writing and that reliance on HBHG demonstrates that a lot was borrowed from it. I thought a telling point was that when it came time to defend the key elements that the public were interested in, DB/BB turned to HBHG.

If anything demonstrates that the popularity of DVC is related to themes in HBHG, that reliance during the "refresher exercies" would seem to do it.

Whether it is a basis for a copyright claim under UK law is not clear.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blythe Brown: The Missing Witness

Dan Brown took the stand today and this morning's testimony was mainly designed to establish how he did research (in collaboration with Blythe Brown) and a timeline of his research.

Baigent and Leigh's barrister appears to be trying to place the order of the books that Dan Brown/Blythe Brown read and the timeframe in which that occurred. As the judge had earlier indicated that the order of the research might be of great importance, this would appear to be the core of the complaintants' case.

They are presumably going to try and put HBHG into a certain slot that will indicate that the central idea (or "Big Idea" as Dan Brown calls it) came from HBHG.

There are some documents that are missing, including the original short proposal for DVC that was sent to Dan Brown's agent -- it was the first of what was a three part proposal for three book, the other two being "The Botticelli Code" (the outline of which survives) and one possibly called "The Nostradamus Code" (one where the outline does not survive. The longer synopsis has survived, although it was created at a later stage than the original proposal.

A few other documents are missing, mainly due to flooding in March 2004 of Dan Brown's Rye, NH, basement. However, a large number of electronic documents (with dates) exist -- these are referred to as research documents and there are about 304 of them.

They mainly consist of notes from Blythe Brown, excerpts of things Dan Brown typed, printouts of things Dan Brown typed or got off internet, photocopies of articles/books and handwritten notes. The other items sent by the defence include Dan Brown's "library" which evidently consisted of 39 books -- Dan Brown: " I'm without a library, its all over here somewhere".

Some of Blythe Brown's research notes are not included because the defence did not ask for them -- the consensus view appears to be that they were unaware of the extent of her role as researcher when they made their requests.

The questioning was pretty tame, although Baigent and Leigh's barrister was able to push back the time that Dan Brown got Knights Templar from when he was doing a book tour for Deception Point (late 2001) as he claimed back to when he was doing one from Angels&Demons (mid-2000). There were some hints that they might even be able to establish that he bought it/ordered it from his hometown bookstore.

Dan Brown's longer synopsis of DVC has a series of redactions for "commercial reasons" -- these appear to be because it was initially proposed as part of a multi-book deal and he wants to keep the possibilities on future books confidential.

The contents though are known to all the attorneys involved in the case and in general they agree they are not relevant to this case, they just won't be released publicly. They might have been overly rigorous on redacting as H&L's barrister wants to ask questions about 2 redacted portions and Mr. Baldwin (Random House's barrister) has no objections.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Da Vinci Court in London: Leigh Proves Strong Witness Against Brown

Dispatch from Da Vinci Crock's London Correspondent:

The afternoon session started when Richard Leigh was called to the stand and contrary to audience expectations he proved a formidable witness.

The legal implications of his testimony might have been different, but it didn't seem Mr. Baldwin (Random House barrister) extracted much from him. Leigh was the writer of the book while Baigent was the researcher, so perhaps there was less to draw out, but the best Baldwin could do was find a few points of text that Leigh had copied from Baigent's notes that were broadly similar to a few of his sources.

There were some clear references to clear textual similarities with DVC (p. 88 of HBHG is nearly identical to p. 245 of DVC, for example) and the judge made reference to the fact that Baldwin had not cross-examined on the similarities as he did not dispute they were there.

There was some debate over whether HBHG sold well in the US because of its "central themes" and Leigh made a convicing statement that the so-called "central themes" were a legal construct foisted onto the book by the case but that the core of the case resolved around the Magdalene bloodline and the central themes all led to that.

To a layman that sounded very plausible--what bearing it has on UK copyright law is unclear.

In response to that statement, the judge asked Leigh "Is that why we're here?"

Leigh responded that Brown should have given them credit in the front of his book as many authors do.

Baldwin's last question was to suggest Leigh was misleading in his statement that he had seen DB's copy of HBHG and that it was heavily annotated. Baldwin said RH's solicitors had had it in their possession all the time it had been in the UK and had no record of him having seen it. Leigh said he'd seen photocopies and when he said "copy" that's what he meant.

Baldwin let it drop at that -- although it is worth noting there was some suggestion earlier in the week that there is a dispute between the parties about those annotations. RH's lawyers say Blythe Brown annotated it after the original complaint was made, Baigent&Leigh's solicitors appear to suggest that the annotations represent the copying that would help make their case.

Leigh did very well on the stand. The most telling questions to him came from the judge who pointed to DVC page 339 where HBHG is explicitly mentioned as an international best seller. Leigh suggested that the reference was condescending and patronising.

"That's because the person making the comments is a condescending and patronising person" replied the judge. B&L's barrister appeared happy enough with the testimony that he had no questions. Except for a few relatively minor amendments, Leigh's witness statement seems to be almost entirely intact. How telling the difference between the legal "central points" and the "real themes" is was unclear.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

London: Baigent Does Better, Random House Dodging Key Issues

From our London Correspondent:

There was a mention of Dan Brown testifying on Monday and providing a witness statement Monday morning. Unclear on whether that would be supplementary matters (i.e.-would he testify tomorrow and deal with other things on Monday) or be the start of his testimony?

Court today started with some preliminaries relating to the addition of language similiarities between DVC and HBHG. Baigent&Leigh intend to rely on those "fingerprints" as supporting evidence that demonstrate that their book was used as source material for DVC.

Since the main claim is copyright infringement rather than outright plagiarism, this is considered a small point. Random House's lawyers would prefer not to get into peripheral matters as they are not central, but the judge indicates that he will allow it on the grounds of letting the parties present everything relevant they want so that they can't claim to have had important evidence excluded.

He does allow that they are "faint fingerprints" and that he will look rather favorably on DB testifying that he can't recall where several of the textual similarities came from on the grounds that they are rather late additions to the case. In any event, he also indicates that the case will succeed or fail based on other factors, said the judge: "if you can't win on your primary case, these [faint fingerprints] won't save you."

After the preliminaries, Baigent returned to the stand for his third day. He fared much better today than before and it is unclear how much of his witness statement still stands -- there are hundreds of paragraphs to it and while Mr. Baldwin (RH's lead counsel) has extracted a lot of concessions from Baigent, it is not so apparent to the audience how comprehensive the concessions have been.

For all we know, 300 paragraphs might stand uncontested -- or maybe only 3?

Baigent though is back to conceding points, but scores some points of his own -- although I'm not sure how helpful those are. In one case, Baldwin draws attention to DVC p. 218 that makes reference to Baldwin II and the Knights Templar to suggest that DB's source could have been a book by Addison called "History of the Knights Templar". Baigent indicates that DB's text contains a major historical error in that Baldwin II's reign did not include the Second Crusade (1147-1152) as indicated in DVC and says "HBHG didn't make that sort of egregious historical error."

Point for Baigent on historical accuracy, point for DB on not plagiarising HBHG -- doesn't Baigent know that common ERRORS are often more important for showing copying than common truths?


[ This is why Random House in the United States stooped to an outright lie in claiming -- both in court and in ite filings -- that I had dropped my claims relating to my 1983 book, The Da Vinci Legacy. We proved conclusively that the historical error which I made -- and which Brown copied -- was not coincidence.]

Some give and take between Baigent and Mr. Baldwin on Baldwin II on this point that is stopped by the judge telling Baigent "you know it's not bloody from your book as you didn't make that error." Baigent has to concede that he "finds it difficult to claim he [DB] took it from us."

Later Baldwin makes a nasty insinuation about Baigent's witness statement that Baigent was claiming credit for the idea of dividing the words "Sangraal" into two and coming up with the French for "Blood Royal". He suggests that Mr. Leigh's witness statement indicates that Leigh and Lincoln came up with the idea before they met Baigent and Baigent is trying to take credit for their idea.

The paragraph in question in isolation does appear to suggest this interpretation, but the immediately preceeding paragraph does explicitly say that splitting the words was Richard Leigh's idea. This time, I think "infelicitous" might have been quite properly used, but Baigent appears to have learnt his lesson with that phrase.

He has a new phrase that Baldwin will probably crucify him with once he's had a chance to reflect on it. This time the phrase is "It's implicit" in answer to any question pointing out the absence of a central theme of HBHG from a portion of DVC that Baigent argued did, in fact, contain the central theme.

All too often, it appears that Baigent&co have included every odd mention of Mary or the Holy Grail and claimed it as a direct mention of something like Mary fleeing Palestine and going to France or something more specific. Baldwin is laser-like in arguing "that isn't there, is it?" for every passage so indicated and Baigent responds "it's implicit". On yesterday's form, I think Baldwin might get around to saying something like "Is 'it's implicit' your long word for 'it's not there'?"

Baigent is forced to concede that not all his central themes were included in DVC, so his charge in his witness statement that they were is erroneous and should read "some" instead of "all". As most of the support for Central Theme point 2 (CT2) falls away under cross-examination, the judge finally says to Baigent "all you have to CT2 is that Jesus was a Jew and he married -- are you claiming that that could only have come from you?"

Baigent concedes it couldn't and with the apparent demise of CT2 court adjourned for lunch.


The Importance of Being Blythe

The absence of Blythe Brown on the witness stand in London has been the source of much astonishment given the prominent role everyone says she played in the writing of The Da Vinci Code.

To that issue, I received an email this morning which offered the following:
As for why Dan Brown's wife is not testifying, perhaps the plaintiffs were unable to call her as a witness. In CA, Under CA Evidence Code Section 970 a wife does not have to testify against her husband in a civil case. No idea if the UK has the same rule, if not, I can't imagine why they would not call her. Good luck!

I replied that I think that would apply only if she was testifying against him.

Brown himself is not being sued in London, only Random House. Perhaps they are not suing him so that they _could_ call her to testify against RH and explain her prominent role.

But that still does not answer the question about her absence.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Da Vinci Code in the Dock - Baigent Continues to Shoot Self in Foot

Da Vinci Crock's London Correspondent filed the following dispatch and offered a couple of relevant links.

"The courtroom was less crowded today. The case is being heard in the Royal Courts of Justice, whose main building is a giant Victorian Gothic structure that is quite imposing.

"However, the court where the case is heard is Court 61 in the Thomas More Building, which sounds pretty impressive except that it is a 1970s office block and the court is a modest-sized room on the 10th floor.

"Baigent was still on the stand after yesterday's debacle. The cross-examination continued today and was probably not as bad as yesterday, but Baigent can't like being cross-examined. The consensus appears to be that yesterday went poorly for him and there were fewer reporters in attendance today.

"All-in-all it was fairly boring this morning as they went over specific pieces of DVC and HBHG to ascertain just what Central Themes existed and which were explicitly included and which not.

"While the DVC might have the 'look and feel"'of HBHG, on close examination, finding explciit mention of the themes can prove elusive. I found myself wondering during the hearing whether the barristers and judge had been English majors in college as there was a lot of close reading of texts going on.

"Two important points were highlighted today:

"(1) That HBHG's key conclusion about the Priory desiring to restore the Merovingian blood line to the throne of France and other european countries is absent in DVC.

"On that point, the judge asked Baigent at one point: 'Those points [restoring Merovingian line] simply don't feature in his book [DVC], do they?'

"(2) HBHG has the Priory with an explicit and active political program they want to promote and publicise while the DVC has the Priory trying to keep a secret hidden.

"On this, the judge asked: 'How does he use your results [about the Priory] if he reaches the opposite conclusion?'

"At another point, Baigent was forced to concede (again) that he had used 'infelicitous phraseology' in his witness statement. He seems prone to using 'infelicitous' a lot and Random House's counsel must have come up with his sound bite last night as he quickly came back with 'is "infelicitious" your long word for being incorrect?'

"Baigent frequently had long pauses of 30 seconds to more than a minute; the silence was incredibly lengthy as he contemplated his answers -- which all too often were agreeing that certain pages of DVC that he had identified in his witness statement did not explicitly contain themes from HBHG as he had claimed.

Links:

BBC

The Times

The Guardian

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Report from the Da Vinci Code-Holy Blood, Holy Grail Trial

I am extremely fortunate to have a European friend who has been keeping an eye on the Da Vinci Code-Holy Blood, Holy Grail trial. This friend wishes to remain unidentifiable in order to avoid a range of repercussions.

The latest dispatch is below and covers the re-convening of the trial today, March 7. The dispatch adds valuable "color" lacking in media reports. I have added [my comments in brackets].

"In Court 61 in the Royal Courts of Justice this morning, about 30 of us sat while another 30 stood about. Baigent and Lee came in like two aging hippies and Dan Brown came in looking rather thinner and less dapper than his photos.

"Mrs Brown was not there and the counsel made a brief mention that she would not be testifying."


[
I am not surprised that the book's key researcher, Blythe, is _not_ on the stand. I imagine that having her under oath could be devastating to Random House. It is, however, surprising given the extensive role that Brown says she played. ]

[On the other hand, if the Random House lawyers can successfully deprive the judicial process of her valuable testimony, then they have a public relations coup: Brown may very well be able to say, truthfully, that he did not read the books in question. And by other skillful coaching by lawyers, Brown may be able to skirt the edges of perjury in his answers. ]


"A few interesting things came out before testimony:

"A few items that were originally claimed to have been copied from HBHG have been dismissed because DB's lawyers can show ... wait for it ... he copied them from a different source, not HBHG. There was a hint that the copying was "textual" (word-for-word?) but that it was of very brief length.

"Baigent and Lee had to declare a list of "central themes" they allege that DB has infringed upon. They came up with 15.

"The case revolves around these central themes and whether they are copyrightable. My guess is they aren't, but seeing how the case revolved around that rather than broad similarities was interesting to see. Baigent was the only witness I saw but he had a very rough time of it.

"Although I am a bit out of sympathy with Baigent, his cross-examination was pretty rough. There was a lot of attention taken to the original proposal to the publisher that itself did not contain many of the 15 central themes ("how can they be central themes if they aren't in your outline?" was a frequent question).

"Of course, the outline pre-dated the book by about 3 years. Anyways, Random House went on about that for a while, but I think the judge was sympathetic to Baigent on that because, in reality, most finished books do not adhere rigidly to the original proposals.

"The judge wasn't so supportive on issues of "other people share my belief" that was included in Baigent and Lee's complaint -- their examples, while referencing the similarities between DVC and HBHG did not reference the 15 central themes, so Baigent was forced to admit that his complaint on that score was either incorrect, false or (his words) 'infelicitous'."


[Despite erroneous media reports that echo the Random House party line, my case hinges NOT on general themes or broad claims but on several hundred very specific and identifiable instances of copying that were comprehensively analyzed by forensic linguist Johgn Olsson, but which the trial judge refused to admit into evidence.]

"The judge forced him to make a few of these admissions. Not very helpful, I think, to his case -- moral: if you cite other people, make sure that you have a statement from them supporting what you're saying they wrote."


[In my case, we introduced into evidence a numbed of unsolicited emails from strangers callig my attention to what they saw as plagiarism of my books by The Da Vinci Code.]

"I imagine several of the people cited might well have agreed with Baigent, they just didn't write it out in a way that coincided with a claim of copyright (as opposed to plagiarism).

"They mentioned a few other books that Dan Brown used for his notes, I recall this one: Woman in the Alabastar Jar (might be off by a bit in the title)."

[That would be The Woman with the Alabaster Jar : Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail, by Margaret Starbird.]

"The judge indicated that the important feature of the case was the *order* in which DB did his research and whether some of these other sources stemmed from HBHG and when he read HBHG and what he used ("cribbed") of it."


Monday, March 06, 2006

Date Set for Appeals Arguments

At 10 a.m., April 11 in New York, Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

On a related topic, I was watching an old videotape of the quickly defunct (and ahead of its time) Max Headroom television series this weekend. One of the characters (Blank Reg, if you know the series) notes that, "Publicity is the last refuge of the innocent."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

RH London Lawyer No Better At The Truth Than American

According to this article in the Book Standard, the Random House lawyers in London are as adept at misrepresenting reality as those in this country.

This excerpt contains a gross falsehood by
RH lawyer John Baldwin:

"According to Baldwin, Brown's own copy of Holy Blood was annotated after Da Vinci was published, ahead of another, unsuccessful action by author Lewis Perdue, who accused Brown of plagiarizing his books The Da Vinci Legacy and The Daughter of God. "American lawyers have crawled over it [emphasis added] and Mr. and Mrs. Brown have annotated it up in 2003, after The Da Vinci Code was published."

No. No that bolded statement is not true. It's false and totally unsupported by the facts.

Shame, shame.

Justice in this case truly needs a measure of truth and, as here in the U.S., it doesn't look as if RH is going to provide that. As I've said with my own case, if RH has such a great case, why must they resort to falsehoods? And if this is a lie, what else have they said that also cannot be trusted?

London Judge Adjourns Court to RE-read the Books in Question

Some very interesting material here, especially the judge needing to read the books a SECOND time and the RH attorney's statement that:

"You cannot, he said, claim copyright over a few bars of a song; it's the whole tune or nothing."

The second contention is an obvious mistake, at least in America, as any competent copyright attorney here knows.

The first part shows a judicial willingess to consider all the facts. RE-reading after having heard testimony in order to see for himself. This judge seems to understand that determining plagiarism is not always as simple a task as breezing through the works in question.

Da Vinci judge turns back to page one

By Alan Hamilton

The devil is in the detail, and one reading of the two hefty books in question proves insufficient

DID Pepin the Fat assassinate King Dagobert II in AD679? Why did the Knights Templar fall out with the Priory of Sion in 1188? And was the Crucifixion a fake?

Early Christian history dominated the second day yesterday of the hearing in the High Court into whether the American author Dan Brown had infringed copyright by lifting ideas from a book published more than 20 years previously for his blockbusting fiction, The Da Vinci Code, written in 2003.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh are suing their publishers, Random House, for breach of copyright, saying that Brown took at least 15 core ideas from their non-fiction work, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail, written in 1982. It was the turn of the defence yesterday to deny the claims and, as ever, the devil was in the detail.


Read the rest.

Notable Absences at London Trial

From The Guardian

"There were two notable absentees from the court: the third author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Henry Lincoln, who is taking no part in the action; and Mr Brown's chief researcher, whose habit was to copy, type and hand over to him long extracts from works that she thought might interest him - his wife, Blythe.

Every now and then, in a day of tortuous legal argument about what constitutes "the architecture" of a book, of how plagiarism can be proved in the era of instant information, and of whether a single phrase about the Emperor Constantine being baptised on his deathbed could have copyright, the softly spoken judge, Mr Justice Peter Smith, threw a remark or question into the proceedings that fell like the clonk of a concrete boot.

Inferences

Quietly he remarked that inferences might be drawn from the absences of Henry Lincoln and Blythe Brown.

Quietly he asked what, precisely, the plaintiffs were seeking as remedy? Did they want, as he had heard suggested on the news, to stop the release of the film? Did they want millions of copies of The Da Vinci Code to be destroyed? Or were they just looking to be paid a licence fee?

Quietly he asked whether Random House was not still selling The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. "Indeed yes," stammered Jonathan Rayner James QC, for the plaintiffs, looking astonished at the question. "Forgive me if I hesitate at your question ... "

"Don't worry," said Mr Justice Smith, quietly. "You'll have a lot more of them before the end of the case."