James Joyce copyright case settled in California

Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:02am EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter, ESQ.) - A Stanford University professor has settled her closely watched copyright misuse battle against the estate of James Joyce and will be allowed to publish her work focusing on the life of the author's daughter, both sides said.

Carol Loeb Shloss, an acting professor of English at the California school, filed suit in June after she was forced by the estate to delete substantial portions of her book, "Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake." It contained evidence of the younger Joyce's influence on her father's book "Finnegans Wake."

The estate, controlled by Joyce's grandson (and Lucia's nephew), Stephen James Joyce, denied her permission to quote from any of the material the estate controlled and threatened to sue Shloss for copyright infringement if she did, the professor claimed.

Shloss later created a private Web site, not accessible by the public, which contained the unpublished material, but received repeated warnings from the estate of possible legal action. Shloss' complaint asked the court to approve her use of quotations from published and unpublished works relating to Joyce and his daughter on the Web site.

The case was being monitored by intellectual property attorneys because Shloss alleged the estate had misused its copyrights, and she sought to establish how far copyright owners could go in prohibiting scholars from sampling published and unpublished works in scholarly endeavors.

But with a settlement, the case does not establish any precedent. It was reached with a court-appointed mediator.

According to Maria Nelson, who represented the Joyce estate, the mediator was able to get both sides to agree on specific material Shloss may use.

"In the complaint, nowhere did it say specifically what the materials are that she wanted to publish or what the context was of that publication," Nelson said Thursday. "It was important for our clients to identify what specific materials were at issue and what the context of publications would be, which we were able to do during the course of the litigation and settlement talks.

"We did grant them the covenant not to sue if those specific materials are published," Nelson said, adding the estate is not admitting to fair use by granting those rights.

According to Schloss' attorney Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford, the Joyce estate has been "extremely aggressive in enforcing copyrights and has threatened scholars with lawsuits even though their work qualifies under the 'fair use' doctrine of copyright law."

He added that Schloss "got exactly what she asked for in her complaint, and more."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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