Producers of the film version of The Da Vinci Code presumably heaved a long sigh of relief when a British judge today (Friday) ruled against two writers who claimed that author Dan Brown infringed on the copyright of their book by lifting its "architecture" for his own. If the court had ruled otherwise, it might have resulted in the producers having to reach an agreement with the plaintiffs before they could release their movie, which is scheduled to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month. The lawsuit had been filed by Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, two of the three authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which Brown refers to in his novel. "Even if the central themes were copied, they are too general or of too low a level of abstraction to be capable of protection by copyright law," Justice Peter Smith ruled. "Accordingly, there is no copyright infringement either by textual copying or non-textual copying of a substantial part of HBHG." Random House, which published both books, released a statement quoting Brown as saying, "Today's verdict shows that this claim was utterly without merit." Gail Rebuck, chairman and CEO of Random House, said that it was "highly unusual and very sad" that Leigh and Baigent had sued their own publisher, adding, "The ruling is very important for the future of creative writing in the U.K."
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