Monday, April 17, 2006

David Hooper on the Da Vinci case

Huge mountains of tosh have been talked about the Da Vinci case, but at last we have an article which talks sense. It's written by David Hooper and it can be found in Publishing News.

If I were ever -- God forbid -- in serious legal trouble over a book-related matter, David Hooper is the lawyer I would think of first (though I doubt that I could afford him). He is currently with Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, and he is the author of Reputations Under Fire, which is the book on libel in terms of English law (particularly dangerous law for writers). He has been mentioned here briefly from time to time.

Hooper's view is that Baigent and Leigh 'cannot have received encouraging legal advice as to their chances of success.' And he agrees with my own view that the third co-author, Henry Lincoln, was wise to stay out of it.

The outcome of the case demonstrates, says Hooper, that 'The law is as everyone thought it was. Unless you copy the means of expression of facts and ideas, you do not breach copyright.'

Baigent and Leigh must now pay their own legal costs plus 85% of Random House's costs -- not much change out of £2 million. This figure alone surely casts doubt on the idea that it was all a put-up job to increase the royalties from both books and to boost Random House's profits; plus, of course, the movie box office. I just don't think the arithmetic works. Hooper says that 'the cost of such litigation [for Baigent and Leigh] would easily outweigh even the large additional sales.'

As for the idea that it cost Random House nothing because they used in-house lawyers, who are being paid a salary anyway-- well, I hardly think so. The English legal system just does not work that way. Just by way of example, Richard Spearman QC, who represented Baigent and Leigh, cannot by any stretch of imagination be described as a Random House in-house lawyer. And I bet he ain't cheap.

At the end of the day, says Hooper, 'Baigent and Leigh made an unwise and ruinous decision to accuse Brown of plagiarism.' The winners? Dan Brown; Random House; Henry Lincoln (who gets increased royalties with no legal bills); and the Da Vinci movie. 'And, of course, the lawyers.'

Oh yes. We mustn't forget them.


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Bravo....a voice of reason in the sea of stupid!

Unionsbuerger said...

Der Da Vinci Code ist eine gute UCHRONIE.

Diese Uchronie ist nicht unwahrscheinlicher als die Fabeln der Kirche.
Die "Templiers" sind nicht wegen Blasphemie von Philippe Le Bel und vom Papst erledigt worden.
Sie waren einfach zu mächtig und zu reich für die Karolinger geworden.
Den "Templiers" das Geheimnis der Tochter Jesus: Sarah anhängen zu wollen,
ist eine schöne kontrafaktische Geschichte.
Warum sollten wir aber nicht daran glauben ?
Müssen wir den eidesstaatlichen Versicherungen vom Opus Dei und ihrer Benedikten glauben ?