J.D. Salinger v. John Doe, John David California



Author J.D. Salinger, at 90 years-old, filed a lawsuit

this week seeking damages for copyright infringement and an injunction against the writer, publishers and distributor of a "sequel" to "Catcher In The Rye" .... "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye."

A character very much like an aged Holden Caulfield, at 76 years old, an escapee from a retirement home and identified as ``Mr. C" takes on New York, like the young Holden in "Catcher In The Rye." J.D. California, the author of the sequel never refers to the character as Holden Caulfield, only as "Mr. C."

The complaint asserts the sequel infringes Salinger's copyright rights in both his novel and the character Holden Caufield. The sequel and the original both begin with Holden leaving an institute and end with he and his sister at the carousel in Central Park. The complaint goes on to allege the bulk of the book has Holden doing, seeing and talking to the same folks as in the original while he is in New York.

The sequel is currently available for purchase in the UK and is scheduled for a Fall 2009 release in the US.

Can J.D. California successfully defend an action for copyright infringement? The Wall Street Journal blog has a great outline of the defense here http://www.1010wins.com/pages/4512245.php?contentType=4&contentId=4099583. I struggle with the thought that this sequel could be fair use. It is really going to hinge on whether or not this new work is transformative of the original. I posted http://www.askbeforeyouact.com/blog/post/Is-Fairey-Transforming-Copyrights.aspx earlier this year on the status of fair use and transformation in the Shepard Fairy case.

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Reference Info:Pleadings | Federal, 2nd Circuit, New York | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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