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Posted by on Jul 2, 2009 in Media, Society | 5 comments

Judge Bans Book: Kills Off 60 Year Old Copy-Cat Caulfield

In America, commerce trumps speech:

In a 37-page ruling, [Judge Deborah A. Batts, of the United States District Court in Manhattan] issued a preliminary injunction — indefinitely barring the publication, advertising or distribution of the book in this country — after considering the merits of the case. The book has been published in Britain.

In a suit filed on June 1, lawyers for Mr. Salinger in the copyright infringement lawsuit contended that the new work was derivative of “Catcher” and Holden Caulfield, and infringed on Mr. Salinger’s copyright.

The work by Mr. [Fredrik] Colting, 33, centers on a 76-year-old “Mr. C,” the creation of a writer named Mr. Salinger. Although the name Holden Caulfield does not appear in the book, Mr. C is clearly Holden, one of the best-known adolescent figures in American fiction, aged 60 years.

Mr. Colting’s lawyers argued, among other things, that the new work, titled “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” did not violate copyright because it amounted to a critical parody that had the effect of transforming the original work.

The economics of the situation would have worked in Salinger’s favor; “60 Years Later” would have spurred sales of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

I was never under Caufield’s spell. In that I’m more in sync with today’s youth:

Teachers say young readers just don’t like Holden as much as they used to. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as “weird,” “whiny” and “immature.”

The alienated teenager has lost much of his novelty, said Ariel Levenson, an English teacher at the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Holden’s home turf. She added that even the students who liked the book tend to find the language — “phony,” “her hands were lousy with rocks,” the relentless “goddams” — grating and dated.

Can anyone imagine the originalists on the supreme court urging us back to the 14 year copyright terms that served America well for 200+ years?

RELATED: A NYTimes editorial got it way wrong. (Why’d they even bother?) So did TechDirt. Ron Rosenbaum, writing in Slate, says save the Salinger archives. From Salinger himself. Not of the Salinger cult, I can’t say I got the point.