Friday, June 19, 2009

US publication of book delayed in Salinger dispute; Associated Press, 6/17/09

Larry Neumeister via Associated Press; US publication of book delayed in Salinger dispute:

"U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts temporarily blocked publication of the book, "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," until she rules whether the book transforms Salinger's original creation enough that it qualifies to be published as a "fair use" of a copyrighted work.

A ruling was anticipated in the next 10 days. The book was scheduled for U.S. release on Sept. 15 but the court dispute was likely to delay that...

She said she read both novels and agreed with Salinger that the new book was substantially similar to his own, published in 1951. Although there was little legal precedent to find that a character in a book with no drawings or photographs of him could be copyrighted, Batts said she believed Caufield could be.

"It's a portrait by words," she said. "It is difficult in fact to separate Holden Caulfield from the book

The hearing featured spirited arguments over whether Salinger's most famous literary character, Holden Caufield, is himself entitled to copyright protection and whether stopping publication of what some publicity materials referred to as a sequel would amount to a book ban.

[Fredrik] Colting, who lives near Gothenburg, Sweden, said in a court document that he did not "slavishly copy" Salinger when he wrote "60 Years Later," his first novel, under the pseudonym J.D. California.

"I am not a pirate," he wrote. He said he wrote the book as a critical exploration of the relationship between Salinger and his famous fictional character.

He said he used his book to transform "the precocious and authentic Holden into a 76-year-old man fraught with indecision and insecurity." The character, identified as "Mr. C," escapes from a retirement home and experiences similar to those Caulfield went through decades earlier.

He said his dedication of the book to Salinger was ironic.

"While I greatly admire Salinger as a writer, he is not the God-Author the public has created," Colting wrote. He also said it was a mistake that early copies of the book released in Great Britain included words promoting it as a sequel to Salinger's book.

During arguments Wednesday, Salinger lawyer Marcia Beth Paul called Colting's book "pure commercialism." She said 94 percent of the book was told in Caufield's voice and only 6 percent in Salinger's voice.

"This is a book about Holden Caulfield," Paul said. "It's a sequel, plain and simple."

She said it was wrong of the defendants to claim that blocking publication of the book because it infringes copyrights would be the same as banning a book. Salinger's book has frequently turned up on book ban lists.

"Make no mistake about it," Rosenthal charged in response. "This is banning the book."
He added: "To enjoin the book before a full exploration of the book is a prior restraint that raises very serious First Amendment questions.""

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