from the general-ownership-of-anything-statute dept
The family's power attorney Marty Singer released a statement regarding the situation, telling omg! Yahoo, "The Kardashians and Kris Jenner have filed a suit against Ellen Pearson for taking personal property belonging to them by virtue of Robert Kardashian’s will and by virtue of copyright protection. Today's filing should serve as notice that they will vigorously defend their rights when forced to do so."Apparently, in his will, he left "his personal tangible and intangible property" to his children. Yet, they claim, Pearson (whom father Kardashian married just two months before his death) has held onto some of his things, including (most importantly) his diary. Why is that so important? It appears that Pearson has been revealing things from the diary which is somewhat embarrassing to the Kardashian clan.
Pearson has been in the news lately, recently claiming that Khloe is not Robert's biological daughter and that Kris Jenner is an abusive mother. Pearson shared excerpts from Robert's diaries with In Touch Weekly, telling the magazine, "I am simply stating the facts and the truth -- their father’s truth. I simply delivered hand-written diaries from their father. They are my property at the disposal of whatever I so choose. Robert would have no problem with that.”This is interesting on a variety of levels, and I imagine might make for an interesting law school exam question. By my read (and I'll let the decent number of law school professors who read this site correct my errors), the copyright claim here is highly questionable on a variety of fronts. First off, the lawsuit has been filed in
Even if there was a copyright issue (and, yes, there likely is a copyright over the diary thanks to our silly automatic copyright on everything policy), it seems like they're confusing the copyright in the content with the physical work itself, which are two different things. Owning the physical book is different from owning the copyright. So, even if they do have some rights to the copyright in the book, the copyright claim alone would not be enough to get the physical copy from Pearson. Nor would it likely be enough to silence her from revealing statements from the diary, which likely qualify under fair use (though, certainly, arguments to the contrary could be made).
It is, of course, entirely possible that there is some legitimate claim over the tangible property based on the will, but my knowledge of estate law is pretty limited. I just find it bizarre that they're even bringing copyright into this at all. It just seems like yet another case where people think copyright is something it's not -- and they're looking to use it to try to make an additional claim of ownership where it really doesn't fit or make sense. To some extent, this is yet another example of the problem of what's become of copyright law today. It's so widely abused that so many people seem to think that it's a tool to get whatever they want. Copyright is not a "general ownership of anything I want" statute, but many seem to treat it that way.