CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth reports that "Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown came to court in London Monday with a confident smile and a team of lawyers who'll be arguing you can't claim ownership of history, even when it's controversial, disputed history.
Roth explains that the historic cover-up, portrayed in the book and movie that's supposed to be coming soon, is of the theory that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene married and had a child, whose descendants are still around, and still supposedly threatened by the Catholic Church.
The tale's made a fortune for Brown, whose book acknowledges the controversial theory isn't his alone, and even mentions a book that got there first, "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," published more than 20 years ago, but as fact, not fiction.
The authors of that book are suing for infringement of copyright, claiming "The Da Vinci Code" didn't just borrow a theory, it stole the whole thrilling jigsaw puzzle they created.
And, in a response Roth notes has no suspense at all, Brown's publisher calls the claim nonsense.
Observes media lawyer Paul Herbert, "The publishers of 'The Da Vinci Code' are saying, 'Look, all we've done is take the basic planks in the original work, the premise about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and turn it into a novel. There is no copyright in the facts that we based it on, so where's the claim?' "
The claim, Roth says, is that about $18 million of what the book's already earned and the movie's expected to make ought to go to the authors who are suing. The legal wrangling could even jeopardize the film's opening in London, slated for May.
The movie was expected to be one of the summer's biggest hits.
Brown's book, Roth points out, has already survived a copyright challenge from another author in the United States who claimed plagiarism.