Image via Wikipedia"60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," will not be published, advertised or otherwise distributed in the U.S. during the pendency of J.D. Salinger's copyright infringement lawsuit against its Swedish author, Fredrik Colting.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Deborah A. Batts yesterday granted the preliminary injunction against publication sought by the reclusive 90-year-old Salinger in the case of J.D. Salinger, individually and as Trustee of the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust v. Fredrik Colting, writing as John David California, WindupBird Publishing, Ltd., Nicotext A.B. and ABP, Inc. d/b/a SCB Distributors, Inc. (No. 1:09cv05095). Judge Batts confirmed her findings in extending the temporary restraining order that she instituted on June 17 that Salinger holds a valid copyright in his 1951 classic "The Catcher in the Rye," whose sales have topped 35 million worldwide, and that the novel's alienated teen protagonist, Holden Caulfield is sufficiently delineated so that a claim of infringement has merit. (See "TUOL" posts 6/3/09, 6/18/09).
The defendants' arguments that "60 Years" was a literary critique or parody of "Catcher" that was transformative of the original and shielded by the Fair Use exception to the Copyright laws did not hold sway with Judge Batts, who found that Colting's effort borrowed wholesale "substantively and stylistically" from Salinger's work. "To the extent defendants contend that '60 Years' and the character of Mr. C direct parodic comment or criticism at Catcher or Holden Caulfield, as opposed to Salinger himself, the Court finds such contentions to be post-hoc rationalizations employed through vague generalizations about the alleged naivete of the original, rather than reasonably perceived parody," Judge Batts wrote in her 37-page decision.
The 227-page "60 Years,"which already has been published in England, features a 76-year-old character named Mr. C who escapes from a retirement facility in upstate New York and encounters, among other characters, an individual named Salinger. Defendants may immediately appeal Judge Batts' ruling to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
At least for the time being, as Holden Caulfield would put it, Judge Batts' decision is a "crummy" "lousy" one for the defendants.