Thursday, June 18, 2009

Copyrights: Is The "Catcher In The Rye" Sequel Going To Be Allowed?

"Catcher In The Rye" is one of the most popular novels of the last sixty years, but it is shrouded in mystery because "Catcher" author J.D. Salinger has become one of the most famous literary recluses since the publication of the book. Now someone totally unconnected to Salinger has decided to publish a "sequel" to "Catcher In The Rye" without Salinger's approval. The resulting dispute is now in court. Here is an interesting article about the lawsuit. Why is this important? Because the court will have to decide whether a pure literary character like "Catcher In The Rye" protagonist Holden Caufield is subject to copyright protection. If so, publication of the sequel might be stopped unless the author can somehow get Salinger's approval. Whether or not a literary character like Caulfield is subject to copyright protection will involve an analysis of the "Fair Use" defense to claims of copyright infringement. For a fascinating overview of the "Fair Use" doctrine, see our February 1, 2009 blog entry.

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