Poet's Son Says No One Can Quote Father Without Paying Up... Even Academic Dissertations...

from the uh,-that's-not-how-it-works,-son dept

crcb alerts us to the bizarre situation where the son (and heir to the copyrights) of poet Louis Zukofsky isn't just brandishing the copyrights against those trying to republish his works, but he seems to be demanding fees from anyone quoting his father or writing about him -- even academic dissertations. It doesn't appear as if Paul is doing this to protect a legacy or anything (if anything, it sounds like he's not a fan of his father), but he does want cold hard cash:
"I hardly give a damn what is said about my father (I am far more protective of my mother) as long as the name is spelled properly, and the fees are paid."
The full copyright notice is quite a doozy, where the son basically seems to think copyright law means he alone gets to determine what is acceptable and what is not -- and, for the most part, his view is that he doesn't want you ever quoting or discussing his father, but if you must, then he wants money. He also seems to think that fair use is as he defines it, rather than what the law actually says.
All Louis and Celia Zukofsky is still copyright, and will remain so for many many years. I own all of these copyrights, and they are my property, and I insist upon deriving income from that property. For those of you convinced that LZ would find my stance abhorrent, the truth is that he kept all copyrights (initially in his name) as he had the rather absurd idea that said copyrights would be sufficient to allow for the economic survival of my mother, and their son. My stance is congruent with that hope.

Despite what you may have been told, you may not use LZ's words as you see fit, as if you owned them, while you hide behind the rubric of "fair use". "Fair use" is a very-broadly defined doctrine, of which I take a very narrow interpretation, and I expect my views to be respected. We can therefore either more or less amicably work out the fees that I demand; you can remove all quotation; or we can turn the matter over to lawyers, this last solution being the worst of the three, but one which I will use if I need to enforce my rights.
Except that, no, fair use is somewhat broadly defined under the law, and just because Paul wants it narrowly defined, it does not follow that this is the case. As Paul's father, Louis Zukofsky once wrote: "The best way to find out about poetry is to read the poems." Apparently, Paul would like to make that a lot more difficult and a lot more expensive. And, yes, Paul, quoting that was fair use.

Filed Under: copyright, fair use, louis zukofsky, paul zukofsky, poetry

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  1. icon
    tesla (profile), 19 Nov 2009 @ 2:39pm

    I half wonder whether this isn't a ploy to offend great scads of people enough that they will make a point of quoting Louis Zukofsky on their blogs, etc., thereby generating enough new interest in his work to cause actual sales of his actual books.

    If only I could believe that - it would be a charming use of irony.

    (Has Neil Gaiman blogged about it yet? He's usually the tipping point.)

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