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February 28, 2006

Originality Sins

The Flea has yet to get round to reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code largely due to having read Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail many moons ago. Were I am betting man, I would put good money on the former having been largely ripped-off of the latter and no need for Leigh Teabing anagrams to buttress the point. That said, I fail to see how Baigent and Leigh expect to get anywhere suing Dan Brown for infringement of copyright.

As all good postmodernists know, there is no such thing as an original idea. There is, technically, nothing stopping two people having precisely the same thought, especially on such a well-trodden subject as religion. As somebody somewhere once said, originality is the art of remembering what you heard but forgetting where you heard it.

But no need to crib the Guardian on the subject (thanks for the post tag line!) or to invoke postmodernism. The trouble for the Holy Blood guys is their book, and its sequels, have always flown the banner of non-fiction - history, to be exact - and I fail to see how historical fact is subject to copyright. Unless, that is, the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, unwritten contract with readers of conspiracy theory was always meant to suggest we knew it was all made up in the first place. Bit of a rhetorical conundrum for them and one I hope sees them laughed out of court. Though I would be delighted to see them go on to make another small fortune from Dan Brown fans who cannot wait for the film.

Even if Baigent and Leigh confess their fabrication I still cannot see a case for plagiarism vis-�-vis the crucifixion; I gather it is a rather critical detail Brown did not pick up. Besides, the gnostics were advancing the story as fact some considerable time ago (not to mention the Muslims).

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 28, 2006 10:37 AM

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