'Da Vinci' case dropped

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TAORMINA, Sicily -- The obscenity investigation into "The Da Vinci Code" was dropped a day after it was launched, as the state attorney in the Italian port village of Civitavecchia it is no longer looking into the charges.

It was announced Monday that a criminal investigation had been launched into whether the 2006 film based on the best-selling Dan Brown novel was in violation of Article 528 of Italy's penal code. If found guilty of the charges, Brown, director Ron Howard and eight other defendants could have been subject to unlimited fines and jail time.

The investigation was reportedly based on complaints from clergy in the area, who alleged that the film was "obscene" from a religious perspective. But on Tuesday, the process was dropped.

While the local media speculated that the change of course may have been sparked by all the negative publicity for the town 40 miles north of Rome -- the story was widely reported in the international media -- an official answering the phone at the state attorney's office said the decision was made based on the merits of the case.

"There are no grounds for this investigation," the official said.

The news of a possible lawsuit broke just as Howard and his team are beginning pre-production work on "Angels and Demons," the sequel to "The Da Vinci Code."
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