May 4, 2013

Harper Lee, 87, sues her literary agent, claiming he tricked her into giving him her rights to "To Kill a Mockingbird."

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is the only book she ever wrote, so don't be expecting "To Sue a Literary Agent."
Harper Lee, 87, says Samuel Pinkus took advantage of her failing hearing and eyesight to transfer the rights and has failed to respond to licence requests.
I originally saw the story about this lawsuit in The Daily Mail, which contains this line:
Lee, who lives in Monroeville, Alaska, has taken legal action to get the copyright reassigned but alleges Pinkus still received commissions.
I almost blogged what I thought was more interesting news: That the reclusive author, whose name we associate with the Deep South, has taken up residence in Alaska. Oh, those 2-letter state abbreviations. So tough for the UK news media to keep track of.

26 comments:

traditionalguy said...

It's not that cold in Alabama yet, but another 5 years like the last 5 years may do the trick.

Pogo said...

Lawyers!

Like puppies, only from hell.

ndspinelli said...

She's got nerve since Truman Capote really wrote the book!

edutcher said...

She looks a little like Slobbering Barney (and I feel sorry for her).

She got the same kind of shaft the Beatles did from Brian Epstein, but Epstein died just as his investment was paying off.

Ann Althouse said...

I almost blogged what I thought was more interesting news: That the reclusive author, whose name we associate with the Deep South, has taken up residence in Alaska. Oh, those 2-letter state abbreviations.

AL was a state long before AK, so I guess they got the right to keep it.

One wonders, though, why TX and TN both lost out on TE.

Is there a state we don't know about?

One of those 60 Barry mentioned?

Astro said...

Most over-rated novel ever.

Not implying I want to see her cheated out of her royalties.

Douglas2 said...

You would think the news media at the University of Kentucky would be better acquainted with the abbreviations of US states...

kcom said...

Monroeville doesn't sound very Alaskan. It struck me as odd before I finished the next sentences and the mystery was revealed.

madAsHell said...

I've read TKAMB two, or three times, and I've always wondered why she never wrote another book.

Why does she still have an agent??

MayBee said...

When I lived in Arkansas, relatives were forever addressing mail to me in AK

somefeller said...

Why does she still have an agent??

Normally, one answer would be: to help her with negotiating good deals relating to her intellectual property. But apparently that's not the case here.

Deb said...

There's some speculation that Lee did write other novels but hated the publicity that resulted from Mockingbird so she never had them published.

Of course that could be purely wishful thinking.

Deb said...

They've since corrected their mistake and Harper is back in Alabama.

m stone said...

She's worth $35 M.

Not worth the fight at 87, but tell that to an 87-year old.

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/harper-lee-net-worth/

wyo sis said...

There's more to it than money, but money is worth the fight. Why should the agent be allowed to profit from fraud.

David said...

Mediocre book. Worst required reading since Silas Marner.

Synova said...

I would think that she could win a suit if the literary agent did that on the basis that a literary agent has the obligation (and expectation) to be looking out for their client.

Not that they do that and not that they do that very often, but certainly if you hire a literary agent they've represented themselves as a person who is looking out for your interests.

It would be like hiring a manager who pockets all your money and then claims you never said they couldn't and they never said they wouldn't.

eddie willers said...

Colonel Tom Parker said, "When I met Elvis, he had a million dollars worth of talent. Now he has a million dollars".

Synova said...

"She's worth $35 M.

Not worth the fight at 87, but tell that to an 87-year old.
"

On the contrary... it might ONLY be worth the fight to an 87 year old. The lawsuits and the lawyers are expensive and she could use up a great deal of her personal wealth but she's 87 so what does she really care?

This sort of IP fraud is common enough that it's actually starting to be common wisdom that literary agents are out for themselves and will screw you over and that a smart author will hire an IP lawyer for contract negotiation on each individual sale because agents can't be trusted.

But when you're NOT 87, can you really afford to fight them? Or do you just eat the loss and, if they managed to get you into a bad contract you can't get out of, do you stop writing because you can't afford to get out of the legal mess?

wyo sis said...

I liked To Kill a Mockingbird. Lot's of high school student's in the 60's found themselves thinking differently about race and prejudice after reading it. Read it again and see if it still has the same impact.
Would Atticus be conservative or liberal in today's world?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse: Oh, those 2-letter state abbreviations. So tough for the UK news media to keep track of.

It's not a funny mistake. The Daily Mail is full of typos and errors now-a-days. I think because they focus on photos instead of text.

Last night we were tweeting about another of their articles:

"the full effect of the make-up good [could] be seen"

"looked just as hair appears in black and white details [photos]"

Chuck said...

"Pincus fuctus"

After many years of study, two orthodox rabbinical students graduated from the seminary, and were told to get black suits and go into the world. One said that his uncle Pinkus, the tailor, would give them a great deal, so they went to see him. After picking up their suits, the two new rabbis walked down the street, arguing about the color of their suits. The first rabbi said the suits were navy; the second said no they were black. That's when they saw a nun waiting at a bus stop. They ran up behind the nuns to compare colors of clothing. Lo and behold, their suits were navy! "How do you like that, Pinkus fucked us!" said one rabbi. The nun turned around, saying, "I didn't know you could speak Latin!"

creeley23 said...

Leonard Cohen lost most of his money and most of his song rights due to his manager's fraud.

The upside was that it forced Cohen into public again to make several sold-out tours. It wouldn't surprise me if he has made all the money back on his own.

TheCrankyProfessor said...

More novelists should stop after one.

ken in sc said...

When I was a kid, I thought Harper Lee was a man and Joyce Gilmer was a woman. My mother's name is Joyce.

creeley23 said...

Would Atticus be conservative or liberal in today's world?

wyo sis: Great question! I saw the movie a few years ago and reflected that Atticus is the template for the Good Liberal -- liberals as they would like to see themselves: honest, thoughtful, caring and just.

I've tried to live up to that commission, however imperfectly, and wound up conservative.

It seems to me the problem with many liberals today is they assume the moral high ground of Atticus Finch, but they don't earn it.

William R. Hamblen said...

TE? At least tee-eks sounds a little like Texas and tee-enn sounds a little like Tennessee.