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Salinger's Ghost Censors From The Grave

Jay McInerney in the NY Times reminds us why there will never be a biographical account of J.D. Salinger that is as accurate and insightful as it could be, all thanks to a bit of stifling censorship from the current copyright regime:
...Hamilton tracked down a great deal of unpublished correspondence and quoted extensively from Salinger's letters and books. When a galley of the book reached Salinger, he called in the lawyers and demanded that Random House remove quotations of unpublished letters from the text. The initial district court ruling in favor of Random House and Hamilton was overturned on appeal with major repercussions for American copyright law and with the immediate result that Hamilton was forced to paraphrase the letters he'd relied so heavily on. Slawenski is muzzled by that 1987 ruling and also by his fastidious interpretation of fair-use copyright law in regard to quoting from the fiction, limiting himself pretty much to short phrases. The bulk of the book was written when the litigious Salinger was still alive, but I can't help wondering if his heirs might have proved a little more relaxed about quotation. Margaret Salinger's memoir, "Dream Catcher" (2000), to which Sla­wenski is heavily indebted, quotes great swatches of the prose, but she may have presumed that even J. D. Salinger was loath to sue his own daughter.

Full review/article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/books/review/McInerney-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1


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