Trial threat to Da Vinci Code film
THE release of The Da Vinci Code film could be halted if a plagiarism claim is upheld by a High Court judge next week.
The blockbuster starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou and costing 53m is due to have its UK premiere on May 19.
But it could be delayed or even blocked if a copyright action by the authors of the non-fiction book Holy Blood, Holy Grail is successful.
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who co-wrote the book 22 years ago, claim breach of copyright on the ground that the "architecture" or complex structure of their book was plagiarised by the Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.
The millionaire writer will be the key defence witness in the case brought against Random House, the parent publishers of his best-selling novel, which will be heard at the High Court in London on Monday.
The 10m claim has the potential to set a precedent in copyright law over the extent to which one author can draw on another's ideas.
If they win, Baigent and Leigh could seek an injunction preventing further infringement of their copyright, affecting future sales and delaying release of the film, or they could seek a share of profits.
They claim that Brown used their central hypothesis, that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had a child, founding a bloodline that was protected down the ages by secret societies such as the Knights Templar.
In The Da Vinci Code, Jesus did not die on the cross but married Mary Magdalene and started a family in France, where their descendants still live.
The authors will point to numerous references in Brown's book, including the character Leigh Teabing whose name, they say, is a tribute to themselves: Leigh from Richard Leigh and Teabing, an anagram of Baigent.
One of the characters also finds a copy of Holy Blood, Holy Grail on Teabing's shelves.
The Da Vinci Code is the world's best-selling hardback novel with sales of 29 million, but the case only relates to the four million sales in Britain.
Random House will argue that the book drew on a wide variety of sources.
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