Friday, November 09, 2007

Penguin sued Over Dorothy Parker - Update

By way of update, Mr Silverstein has not won the lottery and according to this mornings Telegraph his suit against Penguin has been dismissed. Under the hugely creative headline Poetic Justice, the Telegraph reports that Pearson prevailed in this six year battle. I suspect that Mr. Silverstein is going to have some significant legal expenses to pay.

This is my original post from September:

Mild embarassment could ensue if Penguin were to loose a copyright suit over a compilation of poems the publisher produced in 1999. The wheels of justice appear to move slowly but the story is as follows. One Stewart Silverman took a project to Penguin which they turned down because they didn't agree to Silverman's format choice. Silverman went ahead and published it with Scribner. Three years later Penguin published its own selection of 'lost' Parker poems which Silverman believes was a verbatim version of his own work. Final deliberations are supposed to begin on October 9th in New York.

Penguin's argument hangs on the belief that they owe Silverman nothing for the material they published since all the Parker works were in the public domain. As such, the works are not covered by copyright. The Silverman camp suggests that he asserted copyright to the compilation and that this fact was clearly noted when he originally went to Penguin with the project. The judge will decide the result, but on the witness stand John Makinson, Penguin CEO did admit:

''I think it would have been more appropriate to have given some attribution to Mr Silverstein for those poems; it's just a personal opinion that I have based on my reading of the situation subsequent to my deposition in the initial case here."

Silverstein is looking for $1,00,000 in punitive damages.


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