An author who some time got sued for copyright infringement by the estate of J.D. Salinger for publishing a sequel to Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” without permission has landed himself in legal trouble again for a series of children’s books he and a collaborator published.
The children’s books, called “KinderGuides,” bear the same title as several noted classics from the 20th Century, including books like “The Old Man and The Sea” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” The author and his collaborator claim they want to make these classic works accessible to elementary school-aged children by making them easier to read and, with respect to content, age-appropriate.
However, many of these works are still under copyright, and the estates of the famous authors who wrote these books, as well as at least two noted publishing companies, are not happy about what they claim is a blatant copyright infringement. The estates of the famous authors and the publishing companies are suing the children’s book authors in federal court.
According to their complaint, the “KinderGuides” are unauthorized derivative works and therefore infringe on the rights of the estates and publishers. Under copyright law, the owner of a copyright in a book has a right not just to the text of that book, but to create works that are derivative of the book, such as sequels or screenplay adaptations. The “KinderGuides” authors argue that their works are educational, and therefore fall under an exception to the derivative works rule.
Copyright infringement cases can be highly complicated. It is important to have the help of attorneys with experience in copyright and other forms of intellectual property.
Source: The New York Times, “Author who turns classics into children’s books is sued,” Alexandra Alter, Jan. 19, 2017