Author suing 'Da Vinci Code' publisher admits exaggeration

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

LONDON -- An author suing the publishers of "The Da Vinci Code" for alleged infringement of copyright told a British court Tuesday that he exaggerated his case in a witness statement before the trial, relying on book reviews to back up his claim in the statement, given to the court before the trial started.

The lawsuit filed against "Da Vinci Code" publisher Random House by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," resumed at London's High Court on Tuesday after a weeklong break to give the judge time to read both books involved and related materials.

Baigent and Leigh accuse "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown of taking material for his blockbuster conspiracy thriller from their 1982 book. Brown's novel has sold more than 40 million copies, and a film version starring Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen is scheduled for a May 19 release. If the writers succeed in securing an injunction to bar the use of their material, they could hold up the film's release.

Both books hinge on the theory that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and they had a child, and that blood line survives to this day. The earlier book set out the notion that Jesus did not die on the cross but lived later in France. Lawyers for Random House have said ideas about the life and legacy of Jesus Christ are so general they are not protected by copyright.

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