Wednesday, January 12, 2011

J.D. Salinger Estate, Swedish Author Settle Copyright Suit


It appears that Holden Caulfield will remain under tight control of the Salinger estate—at least in North America. In early  December, the estate of J.D. Salinger and Swedish author and publisher Fredrik Colting entered into a consent agreement to end the copyright battle over Colting’s book 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, the so-called “unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye," that would bar the book's publication the U.S.
According to a settlement agreement, seen by PW, Colting has agreed not to publish or otherwise distribute the book, e-book, or any other editions of 60 Years Later  in the U.S. or Canada until The Catcher in the Rye enters the public domain. Notably, however, Colting is free  to sell the book in other international territories without fear of interference, and a source has told PW  that book rights have already been sold in as many as a half-dozen territories, with the settlement documents included as proof that the Salinger Estate will not sue. In addition, the settlement agreement bars Colting from using the title “Coming through the Rye”; forbids him from dedicating the book to Salinger; and would prohibit Colting or any publisher of the book from referring to The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger, the book being “banned” by Salinger, or from using the litigation to promote the book. The agreement is final and terms are confidential. In a statement to PW, Colting said, "We've come to an agreement with the Salinger trust but I'm afraid I can't go into any specifics. Let's just say that the book will be published in a number of countries this year and I'm very pleased with that." 

The settlement comes after a win for Colting at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which, in September, 2009, vacated the injunction that barred publication of 60 Years Later in the U.S. (it has been published in the U.K. and Sweden), and ordered the case to proceed to trial. The case had attracted worldwide attention, not only from Salinger-watchers, but from copyright experts who noted the vacated District Court ruling was the first to extend copyright protection to a single literary character from a lone work, and from publishers and First Amendment groups, who protested the "book banning" nature of the preliminary injunction.

Salinger died in January, 2010, leaving his heirs to take over stewardship of his literary estate. Since its 1951 publication by Little, Brown, The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 35 million copies, while the reclusive Salinger towered over his masterwork, spurning all television, stage and film adaptations, including overtures from Steven Spielberg, and refusing to license audio editions. 

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