27-04-06

Judge Creates New Mystery in "Da Vinci Case" In what may be an unprecedented trick by an English judge, Mr. Justice Peter Smith, who presided over and gave judgment in the "Da Vinci Code Case" (Baigent v Random House Group Limited [2006] EWHC 719 (Ch)), has created his own mystery. In his written judgment, reported 7 April 2006, the judge apparently embedded his own secret code by inserting a series of letters in a different font which spell out his own name and a further as-yet-unsolved puzzle. In the first paragraph of the judgment, the letter "s" at the end of the word "claimants" appears in italicised bold and in the second paragraph the letter "m" is similarly set out. In this way, the phrase "SMITHY CODE" is spelled by the first ten letters, followed by a seemingly random collection of 30 further letters. It appears that no one spotted the judge's antics for nearly three weeks until an interview yesterday with a journalist in which the judge asked if the journalist had found his "coded message". He then gave some further clues including: "think mathematics", a reference to his own entry in "Who's Who" and the date "2006". Mr Baigent and his co-author Mr Leigh lost their copyright claim against Random House over Dan Brown's book "The Da Vinci Code". Also within the text of the judgment, the judge confirmed the long-held UK legal view that there is no copyright in facts or ideas (or "schemes or systems or methods") - only the "expression" of a fact or idea. It would appear that a race is now underway (among lawyers?) to unscramble the mysterious 30 letters and decipher the extra-judicial message. The full text of the judgment may be accessed via: http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/images/judgment-files/baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf
Article by Tom Frederikse