• 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.
  • NO expert testimony was allowed despite three international plagiarism experts who were willing to testif that it existed.
  • 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.

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.


Blogger Mark said...

Kinda looks like they got him on a couple of counts to me.

Thu Mar 16, 04:35:00 PM PST  
Blogger Lewis Perdue said...

Well, reading the witness statement, he has also backed off a lot of the lies he was telling about his music career, Blythe being an "art historian" and other parts of his fabulously fabricated biography he was nailed for a year ago on Lee's blog and Writopia.

Thu Mar 16, 06:03:00 PM PST  
Blogger RC said...

Very interesting...I personally am most interested to see how this really does or does not effect the may release of DVC the movie.

--RC of

Fri Mar 17, 11:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Lewis Perdue said...

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 admitting that he need to read "Da Vinci Code for Dummies," that he did "rework" HBHG and that Blythe is the real force, they 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.

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 don't really care. All I have ever wanted was an acknowledgement. Random House is the one who wanted to go nuclear over the mere suggestion of plagiarism and it was they who sued me.

Beyond my out-of-pocket costs to fight their ridiculous lawsuit, any money I may win will go to charity.

Sat Mar 18, 09:15:00 AM PST  

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