The Wright County Library, a small Missouri library system that operates under the name Laura Ingalls Wilder Library, filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming that it is owed an unspecified amount of royalties and revenues generated since 1969 by Wilder's books and related projects. The library said it filed the complaint after discovering a copy of Wilder's will stating that after the death of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, all income derived from her copyrighted property be given to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Library. Lane died in late 1968.
Named in the suit are Abigail MacBride Allen, J B. Cox and HarperCollins. Allen is the daughter of Roger Lea MacBride, who was the executor and sole heir of Lane's estate. Cox is the representative of Roger Lea MacBride's estate, and HC is the longtime publisher of Wilder's books. According to the suit, after Lane's death MacBride took over her estate and, instead of reverting the rights and royalties to the Wilder Library, began renewing the copyrights of Wilder's books in his own name as well as in those of his lawyers. As a result of MacBride's action, the Wilder Library received one $28,011 payment in 1972 and "was misled and deceived as to its rights to receive the royalty payments and revenue due it," the complaint states.
Topper Glass, the attorney that brought the suit on behalf of the library, told PW that the lawsuit is not seeking to stop HC from publishing any Wilder titles, but rather wants the Missouri court to order an accounting of "who owns and who owes what."
HarperCollins declined to comment on the suit.