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You Might As Well Sue: Dorothy Parker Collections, Legal Infractions

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: , , , , ,

Via Dear Author, this Dorothy Parker news:

Starting July 17, 2007, Penguin will be in court to defend itself from allegations of copyright infringement by Stuart Silverstein. For anyone not familiar with how slowly the wheels of justice churn, Silverstein’s case is illlustrative. The story begins in 1994 when Silverstein shopped around a compilation of 122 Dorothy Parker poems, many of which had never been included in book form.

He brought the collection to Penguin and was offered $2,000 for an advance. Silverstein declined and eventually published the collection, NOT MUCH FUN: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker through Scribner. In 1999, Penguin released, Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems in 1999, which was essentially a “comma by comma” copy of Silverstein’s work. The Penguin editor admitted that she copied Silverstein’s book and cut and pasted the poems into Complete Poems.

Silverstein filed suit and it has gone round and round (all the way to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal) and is now set for trial. The basis of the dispute is whether the compilation by Silverstein contains enough creativity to deserve a copyright.

When I’m less sleepy, I will see what Kevin Fitzpatrick at the Dorothy Parker Society has to say about this. (Their site’s looking really nice these days. If you live in or are visiting New York and haven’t taken Fitzpatrick’s Algonquin Round Table walking tour—do!) Anyone else know more?


Jeez, they only offered him $2000? And they plagiarized him? And they’re even trying to fight this? Why not also steal his dog, or grease his toilet seat? What kind of people are these Penguin people?

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