Dan Brown found “Not Guilty”

Dan Brown has been found not guilty of plagiarism charges, over his bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code.

Judge Peter Smith of London’s High Court ruled that Brown was not guilty of copying ideas from the novel Holy Blood, Holy Grail, written by British historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. Mr. Brown said the verdict “shows that this claim was utterly without merit”.

More than 40 million copies of Da Vinci Code have been sold since its release in 2003.

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“The Mona Lisa Code” ?

Yet another writer has laid claim to the ideas of the best selling novel The DaVinci code.

Straight off his legal win in a British lawsuit claiming that The DaVinci Code was plagiarized, Dan Brown finds himself immersed in another round of accusations in Russia. St. Petersburg scientist Mikhail Anikin claims that it was he that first decoded the Mona Lisa and coined the phrase “The DaVinci Code�? and he’s ready to take the best selling author to task for stealing his ideas. Anikin thinks that Brown may have stolen his theories after he shared them with a friend in 1998 during the exhibition of an American painter in St. Petersburg. He claims that he told his friend that his works could be used in a fiction work but only if he was credited. Like the British case, Anikin says that he published a book in 2000, which laid down the ideas for Brown’s book. Anikin’s theory of “decoding�? the Mona Lisa revolve around the famous painting being an allegory for the Christian Church.

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Bishops take on ‘Da Vinci Code’ in the Philippines

The Philippine Crusade for the Defense of Christian Civilization, Inc., has sent a letter to each of the Philippine Catholic bishops, asking them to publicly support a boycott of the film.

The following is the (unedited) general template used by the crusade to write to the Philippine bishops:

Your Excellency,

On behalf of The Philippine Crusade for the Defense of Christian Civilization, Inc., a civic and cultural organization of lay Catholics, I write this letter confident that you have heard or read about Dan Brown’s bestselling yet controversial book “The Da Vinci Code.” A movie based on the purported historical fiction is now set for worldwide release sometime in May of this year.

As faithful Catholics, we are concerned about the scandalous and sacrilegious manner in which Our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Mary Magdalene and the Catholic Church are portrayed in the book. We believe the movie wouldn’t be any different.

While apologists for the book or movie pass it off as mere fiction, we cannot remain naïve and complacent about the possible harmful effects it would have on the average Catholic reader or moviegoer. False conclusions based on shoddy fictional premises can and often do deceive many of those of weak faith to accept and believe as true what they would normally take for as ridiculous or nonsense.

To dispute those who claim protesting only generates publicity, we argue that the promoters of these productions fear the negative publicity generated by these protests since it translates to poor ticket sales at the box office.

In face of this scurrilous attack on the sacred person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it is our privilege to present Your Excellency a copy of Rejecting the Da Vinci Code: How a Blasphemous Novel Brutally Attacks Our Lord and the Catholic Church, published by The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP — http://www.tfp.org). The book aims to increase public awareness and refutes the malicious lies and distortions being perpetrated by Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”

I have also enclosed copies of articles assailing the literary and historical merit or lack thereof of “The Da Vinci Code” which I hope would be of use to you. [These were copies of your article and an article on the statement of the US Catholic Bishops.]

Knowing Your Excellency’s compelling duty to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful as a successor of the Apostles, we respectfully entreaty Your Excellency to voice out firm opposition and condemnation of the Da Vinci Code movie. We count on you to support our initiative as well as encourage the movie’s boycott among the Catholic faithful.

With this formidable task of going against worldwide public opinion, we hope to show the rest of the world that Filipino Catholics would stand up to defend the honor of the God-Man, that most singular Personage in all of history, the holy founder of Christianity, whom we call Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In closing, we kneel and kiss Your Excellency’s pastoral ring as we ask for your prayers and blessing.

Faithfully yours,

Dr. Jose Maria P. Alcasid
President
The Philippine Crusade for the Defense of Christian Civilization, Inc.

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Dan Brown no more a Plagarist than Shakespeare!

There’s no more plagiarism in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code than there is in Shakespeare’s King Lear,” said Dan Burstein, editor of the bestselling book, SECRETS OF THE CODE: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code.

Burstein was reacting to the recent headline-making news from a court case in London where Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, stands accused of plagiarism by two writers of the 1982 bestseller, Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

“Perhaps no one in the world has studied the issue of the source materials for The Da Vinci Code as closely as our team of writers and editors in the ‘Secrets’ series,” continued Burstein. “I can say with confidence that, while we found Holy Blood, Holy Grail to be very important to The Da Vinci Code, it was far from being the only book with that distinction: dozens of other books, authors, and ideas were clearly critically important as well. Indeed, the very purpose of SECRETS OF THE CODE from its inception was to introduce the reader to the cornucopia of controversial and compelling ideas from a broad range of books and other sources that Dan Brown had obviously read, digested, and used in the storyline of his work of fiction in his own way.”

Burstein continued, “Shakespeare did the same thing-he borrowed the plot of King Lear and numerous other plays from prior plays. But then he added his proprietary Shakespearean touch, which made all the difference.”

SECRETS OF THE CODE lets readers explore for themselves what is fact and what is fiction in The Da Vinci Code, both the book as well as the forthcoming movie. SECRETS OF THE CODE has just been released in a new and updated paperback edition with significant new content. CDS Books, an imprint of the Perseus Books Group, announced today a first printing of half a million copies of Burstein’s book, which has come to be known as the world’s leading guidebook for understanding The Da Vinci Code phenomenon.

“The courtroom drama over the intellectual property at the heart of The Da Vinci Code is not really a battle over plagiarism,” said the award-winning author Dan Burstein. “Instead, it is a battle over the collective heritage of western civilization. These myths, legends, Jungian archetypes, alternative histories, and cosmological theories belong to all writers, to do what they will with them in fiction or nonfiction.”

SECRETS OF THE CODE was a New York Times nonfiction bestseller for five months when it was first published in hardcover and has been a bestseller in many of its 30 international editions as well. SECRETS OF THE CODE is a must-read for anyone interested in the plagiarism trial of Dan Brown or in the deeper, broader discussion of The Da Vinci Code-the novel, the upcoming movie, and the entire phenomenon that has so captivated Americans and people all over the world.

“In editing SECRETS OF THE CODE three years ago, long before the allegations of plagiarism surfaced, our editorial team sought out all the books Dan Brown might have used in his research, and licensed the right to present excerpts from many of them in our book,” Burstein observed. “We included an excerpt from Holy Blood, Holy Grail in SECRETS OF THE CODE because it was obviously one of the key books Brown relied upon.”

Holy Blood, Holy Grail isn’t the only fascinating or controversial take on the so-called “Holy Bloodline” or other key elements of the plot of The Da Vinci Code. Far from it. SECRETS OF THE CODE follows Dan Brown’s research into other works and authors that obviously influenced him as well, including Lynn Picknett’s The Templar Revelation, Margaret Starbird’s The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, Elaine Pagels’ The Gnostic Gospels and The Nag Hammadi Library edited by James Robinson.

In addition to excerpts from Holy Blood, Holy Grail and all the other key books used by Dan Brown in creating The Da Vinci Code, the new edition of SECRETS OF THE CODE features numerous chapters that will be of special interest to anyone following the London courtroom controversy. These include an extensive interview with Lewis Perdue, an American novelist who charged Dan Brown with plagiarism in an earlier court battle; essays about the hoaxes at the heart of the “Priory of Sion” and Rennes-le-Chateau legends; the 30 books of critical importance to understanding The Da Vinci Code; and a path-breaking 20,000-word biography of novelist Brown, written by the “Secrets” team’s investigative reporter, David A. Shugarts.

DAN BURSTEIN is the creator of the “Secrets” series, which, in addition to SECRETS OF THE CODE, includes Secrets of Angels & Demons, Secrets of the Widow’s Son, and Secrets of Mary Magdalene (to be published in October 2006), now has three million books in print worldwide. Edited by Burstein and business partner Arne de Keijzer, the “Secrets” books have been best-sellers in almost every major global publishing market. They have also been the basis for special collector’s issues of US News & World Report. SECRETS OF THE CODE is currently in production as a feature film documentary, directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jonathan Stack. A two-hour documentary, Secrets of Angels, Demons & Masons, is available currently on DVD. Burstein is a much sought-out expert on the issues relating to The Da Vinci Code and has appeared on numerous television specials from the History Channel’s “Beyond the Da Vinci Code,” to Inside Edition and MSNBC.

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Da Vinci Code Author Jams with Dreadnaught

There’s a little bit of rock star in all of us, even those multi-million-selling best seller authors like Dan Brown.

Brown will step aside from the hoopla that’s surrounded his latest novel, The Da Vinci Code to take the stage with Dreadnaught at Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H. April 23. The collaboration is one part of the Writers On A New England Stage series which places authors in front of Dreadnaught to get their rock’n’roll fun.

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Da Vinci Code leads to Religious Publishing Boom

A wave of religious books is coming to bookstores to cash in on The Da Vinci Code movie in May, including a book saying Jesus survived crucifixion and an Evangelical novel with a modern-day Mary Magdalene heroine.

Americans are finally able to buy Dan Brown's best seller in paperback yesterday, three years after it was first published, and with Da Vinci Code fever as strong as ever, it's never been so profitable to write about Christianity.

After Brown's book sold 40 million copies worldwide, books that once might have been released in a limited print run will be stacked at the front of bookstores this spring.

Even Michael Baigent, who sued Brown in a London court this month for plagiarism, is riding on the "Code's" coattails, publishing his latest book, The Jesus Papers, yesterday.

Baigent's previous book examined the controversial idea Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and had children — a key plot element in The Da Vinci Code. His new book suggests Jesus did not die on the cross and lived on for years.

The new batch of Da Vinci Code spin-offs comes ahead of the May 19 release of the movie starring Tom Hanks.

Ehud Sperling, publisher of Inner Traditions, already owes a lot to Brown, who credited several of the publisher's books as sources, fuelling a jump in sales for unlikely titles.


 

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, one of the so-called Gnostic Gospels not included in the New Testament, has sold more than 100,000 copies. "That's amazing for a translation from the Coptic," said Sperling, who has several new releases.


Evangelical Christian publisher Tyndale wants to do more than sell books — it aims to defend the faith. It has created a campaign titled "Da Vinci Didn't Convince Me" aimed at some 2,300 stores in the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA).

"The church needs to equip itself to answer the questions that this movie will raise," said Les Dietzman of CBA member Berean Christian Stores, an Ohio-based chain of 17 bookstores.

Erwin Lutzer's The Da Vinci Deception has sold some 300,000 copies. He likened the movie to a "spiritual tsunami."

"The Da Vinci Code is the most serious assault against Christianity that I have ever witnessed," Lutzer said.

Lutzer, an Evangelical minister in Chicago, has prepared discussion packs for churches in the Tyndale package.

"The majority of people in our churches are going to see the movie and we're not telling them not to," he said, adding that he plans to see it so as to be able to discuss it.

Karen Kingsbury, a Christian fiction writer whose books have sold more than 4 million copies, has written a new book called Divine, a parable about a modern Magdalene figure.

"There's different ways you can go after reading The Da Vinci Code. You can just take it as entertainment and walk away or you may say 'I need to learn more about the history."

"But maybe even bigger is going to be that our society has a very strong curiosity about Mary Magdalene," Kingsbury said.

Amy Welborn, the Catholic author of De-Coding Da Vinci who has written a new book about Magdalene, says she is wary of giving credence to a work of fiction by protesting too much.

"What The Da Vinci Code says about Jesus and Mary Magdalene is silly," she said.

On the more academic side, Oxford University Press is publishing Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene, by Bart Ehrman.

Ehrman, author of the 2004 book Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, said most such books were by Evangelical Christians or Catholics worried about defending the faith.

"That wasn't my concern at all. I'm just interested in the historical issues that The Da Vinci Code raised."

Still he may be popular among such Christians because he says there is no evidence for the marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and he dismisses the more controversial theories put forward by Baigent and others.

"There's not a single scholar on the face of the Earth who buys any of it," Ehrman said.

Dan Brown’s Wife Blythe his main researcher!

Wife of Dan Brown, Blythe emerged as a key figure in the case, collecting research material before her husband wrote the novel and arguing for the inclusion of some of its most important themes.Rayner James said Blythe’s evidence was of “fundamental importance” to the case.

“It was crucial in revealing the dependency on HBHG and the extent to which she relied upon it,” he said. “Perhaps that explains why she was not produced.”

Dan Brown, who was not in court but spent three days under cross-examination last week, had explained that he wanted to keep his wife away from the media spotlight.

The lawyer criticized Brown, 41, for being vague about dates and sources. He also admitted his own client Baigent had been “a poor witness.” The historians argue that Blythe must have referred to the Holy Blood book before Brown wrote his synopsis for The Da Vinci Code in January 2001, contrary to his witness statement.

Copyright lawyers believe the historians may struggle to convince the judge they can copyright general ideas, while publishing executives say the case underlines the saying: “Where there’s a hit, there’s a writ.”

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It is not the first time Brown has been accused of plagiarism. Last August he won a court ruling against Lewis Perdue, who alleged The Da Vinci Code copied elements of two of his novels, Daughter of God and The Da Vinci Legacy.

The losing side in the current case faces over one million pounds ($1.75 million) in legal costs, though the publicity has caused a spike in sales of the Holy Blood book.

Also set to benefit from the media coverage is the Hollywood movie of The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks, out in May; the release of the U.S. paperback edition of the novel on March 28, and Baigent, whose book The Jesus Papers is due out next week.