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June 4, 2009

More views of the J.D. Salinger lawsuit

J.D. Salinger's legal battle to halt publication of 60 Years Later: Coming through the Rye, an unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye, has received a lot of attention. I was amazed to see Salinger and related search terms listed in Google's hot trends yesterday, along with the usual pop culture chaff: Kate Gosselin in bikini, Kathy Griffin and the latest reality TV finale. For more readings:

-- Read the lawsuit at The Smoking Gun. -- The publisher of 60 Years Later, Fredrik Colting, told Swedish newspaper the Local that the Salinger challenge was "completely ludicrous." He admitted that 60 Years Later is "written in Salinger's style", but said "words and imagination belong to everyone. You can't copyright a style. Otherwise, we wouldn't have any books left."

-- Susan Weissman, On Huffington Post, says the "sequel" will ruin memories: "I don't want to think, let alone read, about Holden Caulfield aging in a senior home any more than I want to consider where or who Mr. Hubner is right now. Whether J.D. California wrote his sequel, 60 Years Later: Coming Through The Rye as a tribute or for personal gain, isn't my question. Rather, why would a writer want to mar the once perfect love of any true readers?"

-- The Wall Street Journal has a Q&A with Marc Reiner, a copyright lawyer and partner at Dorsey & Whitney in New York.

Posted by Dave Rosenthal at 10:44 AM | | Comments (4)


is he using the same characters? i havent read catcher and the rye but aren't characters and other details of a creative work protected? I mean if this guy wants to write a sequel he should ask permission or just release it free to the public

His main character is Mr. C (and Salinger makes an appearance as well), but the plot revolves around the character revisiting New York scenes from the original. There's more freedom to parody a work of art, but that doesn't seem to be the case here

Nice piece. But I must say, that Salinger has some nerve to complain about someone writing a "sequel" when "Catcher" was in just about every sense a "sequel" to "Huckleberry Finn." But of course, as Hemingway said, "all American novels flow from one book, and that book is 'Huckleberry Finn.' "

Salinger can't even claim originality in the name Holden Caulfield. I'm sure you're aware that he got the name from a movie marquee in New York that prominently featured the names of William Holden and Joan Caulfield. They should'a sued him.

Recently I wrote a 100-page comparative research paper on the treatment of parody in the copyright laws of common law countries and selected European countries. Thus, I could not help but voice my thoughts regarding the ongoing dispute between J.D. Salinger and the author and publishers of a purported sequel to The Catcher in the Rye.

I have posted my new article "Why Courts Should Not Allow the Parody Exception to Make a Parody of the Copyright Law" at

I hope you don't mind me using your blog to advertise it. I would appreciate any comments you may have with regard to my article.

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About the blogger
Dave Rosenthal came to The Baltimore Sun as a business reporter in 1987 and now is the Maryland Editor. He reads a wide range of books (but never as many as he'd like), usually alternating between non-fiction and fiction. Some all-time favorites: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole; Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and anything by Calvin Trillin or John McPhee. He belongs to a book club with a Jewish theme.
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