September 10, 2013

Harper Lee settles copyright lawsuit


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 is a publicist at Melville House.