September 10, 2013

Harper Lee settles copyright lawsuit

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Harper Lee

Earlier this year, Harper Lee sued her literary agent, Samuel Pinkus, for having “duped” her into signing over the rights to her acclaimed (and only) novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, Deadline’s Dominic Patten reports, the parties have reached a settlement agreement, and both the federal and state cases are expected to be dismissed.

The 87-year-old Lee filed a complaint against Pinkus and associates of his in May, alleging that in 2002, he took advantage of the fact that she’d recently had a stroke, was already partially deaf, and was not aware of what she was signing, in order to get her to give away the rights to her Pulitzer Prize-winning book for nothing. The Tennessean outlines some more details of the allegations:

The federal lawsuit sought forfeiture of all commissions Pinkus and his companies received after the copyright assignment in 2007; damages; and that Pinkus and his companies assign whatever copyright rights they own to Lee. The lawsuit didn’t accuse Pinkus, of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., of diverting any of the royalties from Lee.

The Tennessean also reports that Vincent Carissimi, an attorney for Pinkus, said that “the parties reached a mutually satisfactory resolution and…would like at this point to put it behind them.” As of this writing, there hasn’t been an official statement from Lee’s attorneys.

Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.

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