James Joyce Estate Agrees To Pay Legal Fees To Professor It Sought To Stifle

from the good-news dept

We wrote in the past about how the estate of author James Joyce tried to use copyright law to prevent a professor from quoting any works from James Joyce or his daughter Lucia Joyce in a biography of Lucia Joyce she was working on. This was, of course, ridiculous, and after many years in court, the estate didn't just lose, but was ordered to pay attorneys' fees as well, totaling more than $326,000. The estate then appealed that as well, but has now agreed to settle, and pay $240,000 in attorneys' fees to the professor, Carol Shloss. While the end result was good, the fact that she had to go through this whole process just to write a biography in the first place is still quite problematic. Abusing copyright law to stifle free speech is always a problem.


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  1.  
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    Mr Big Content, Sep 29th, 2009 @ 11:47pm

    Yeah, Right

    The fact that copyright was in the US Constitution from the beginning, while freedom of speech had to be added as an afterthought, shows you the relative importance attached to each by the Funding Fathers.

     

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  2.  
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    Chargone (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 12:48am

    ya know, i never did get the whole appealing to what the founding fathers Meant thing.

    mostly just seems to make them all out to be arseholes.

    then again, I'm not actually an American, so what do i know?

     

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  3.  
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    BillH, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 1:23am

    Re: Yeah, Right

    Copyright in the Constitution was not a clearly defined right or law. The first copyright law didn't appear until 3 yrs later, in 1790. Constitutionally, it was just one of the powers given to Congress, allowing them to enact laws establishing a system of copyright if they chose to at a later date. The Bill of Rights were added later (1791) but they had been promised during contentious debate in 1788. I don't think there was more support for copyright than freedom of speech as you contend. Certainly copyright had its supporters, but so did speech & other rights & the debate for the BoR generated a lot more contention & interest & had the potential of derailing the new nation, while copyright did not.

    Also remember that copyright of 1790 was a very limited version of what we get today. Some of us would contend that currently it doesn't resemble original intent at all (Oh Scalia, where are you when you're really needed?)

     

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  4.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 2:43am

    Re: the funding fathers

    "the relative importance attached to each by the Funding Fathers."

    Hmm the funding fathers

    Freudian slip here perhaps

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 3:36am

    Is James Joyce famous? I have never heard of him. Who is he? Is he as good as bestselling writers Robert Ludlum, Jeffrey Archer, Sindey Sheldon and J.K. Rowling?

     

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  6.  
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    curranderry ireland, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:19am

    dear Anonymous Coward james joyce is one of the greatest writers ireland ever produced, he puts those writrs you mentioned t shame. and yes you pig he is very famous

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 4:25am

    Oh! I see. How many copies of his books have been sold? Is it more than what J.K. Rowling sold for Harry Potter?

     

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  8.  
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    ..., Sep 30th, 2009 @ 5:13am

    Re: Yeah, Right

    "Funding Fathers"

    Hahaha
    Whether intentional or not - still funny!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 5:23am

    the Joyce estate...the real terrrrrists!!!

     

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  10.  
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    phil, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 6:34am

    Ignorance

    Hey A. C.
    Apparently you are ignorant of anything that took place before you were born.
    In 1999, Modern Library (Random House) published a ranking of the 100 greatest English language novels of the 20th Century. James Joyce's 'Ulysses' was ranked #1 on that list.
    BTW, 'Ulysses' was patterned after the 'Odyssey' written by Homer. Ever heard of him?

     

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  11.  
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    Call me Al, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Re: Ignorance

    Ulysses is one of the most pretentious and tedious books ever written. The writing itself is stunningly constructed but the narrative is aweful. However, because of its pretension, its been heralded as one of the great pieces of literature. It is the same a looking at a really ugly building but saying that the nails used in its construction are lovingly crafted. Ulysses regularly finds its place high up on the lists but very few people actually read it because it is boring.

    Back to the topic at hand though, I'm glad this has rebounded on the Joyce estate. I wonder if they also argue against books of notes on his works on the same grounds. It is a severe limit on free speech and legitimate criticism and reflects very badly on their contempt for their audience.

     

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  12.  
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    Jim O (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    Re: Ignorance

    Interesting point. I wonder if the Homer estate should have tried to block the Joyce estate from producing 'Ulysses'...?

     

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  13.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    Re: Ignorance

    OK, so we have established that this author lived during a time when there was a "public domain".

     

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  14.  
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    TheStupidOne, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Yeah, Right

    My understanding is that all of the founding fathers understood that there would be freedom of speech and just didn't include it in the constitution. The constitution focused on government powers. However after a bit of an outcry they decided they needed the bill of rights to make the people happy even if all of those rights were understood to exist. I for one am happy they put it in the constitution but I do not think they valued copyright more than free speech.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Ignorance

    "Ulysses is one of the most pretentious and tedious books ever written."

    Couldn't agree more, although the writing is truly stunning. However, for a pure display of Joyce's skill, I can't imagine a better example than "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man".

     

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  16.  
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    Sir William, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Re: Ignorance

    the BBC's list of top 100 books has 6 by Charles Dickens but only 1 by James Joyce. Take that, you bog-trotter.

     

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  17.  
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    phil, Sep 30th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Ignorance

    Excellent idea. Seeing has how it's been 2800 years and all, every living Greek is probably descended from Homer. I'll bet there's some sort of national culture IP that could be claimed. (remember the 'invented' NZ tribal dances)
    What claim might work best?... the 'invention' of epic poetry? ... or a 'trademark' on Greek national heritage perhaps? I suspect 'copyright' might be a problem given that 2800 year thing.
    Not only is there cash to be raised to clear up that budget deficit in Greece, but I bet safeguarding cultural IP would incentivize more innovative literature.

    Remember, it's never too late to sue, although sometimes it's too late to win.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Re: Ignorance

    Highest ranked book that never gets read....

     

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  19.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Ignorance

    Hey, I'm a descendent of bog-trotters! Of course, I still reserve the right to consider Ulysses to be something that would be improved by feeding it to goats, in that the end result of the digestive process could at least conceivably be put to good use in agriculture.

     

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