The publisher of a collection of three early J.D. Salinger stories has dropped its copyright lawsuit against the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust.
The move comes after U.S. District Judge Thomas Anderson in October transferred the case from Tennessee to a federal court in New Hampshire, where Salinger’s widow resides. Tom Graves, of the plaintiff publisher, the Devault-Graves Agency, said the venue change prompted the decision to abandon the case, citing an "unfair ‘home field’ advantage," and "the complexities of relocating the case from Memphis to New England."
Filed in March, the suit accused the Salinger Literary Trust of “tortiously interfering” with the Devault-Graves Agency's attempts to license foreign editions of J.D. Salinger: Three Early Stories, the Devault-Graves Agency's collection of three Salinger works that lapsed into the U.S. public domain. The publisher had sought damages, a declaration from the court that the Salinger Literary Trust had no rights to the works in question, and an affirmation the publisher was free to sell its collection globally.
The case was an uphill battle from the start, however. In its motion to dismiss the case, the Salinger Literary Trust conceded that the stories in question are in the U.S. public domain, but argued that foreign copyright protection is a different matter. Bolstering their argument, a Regional Court in Berlin this spring barred German publisher Piper Verlag from selling the book in Germany, holding that “copyright protection [for the] works in foreign countries was still possible.”
Anderson dismissed the March 2015 lawsuit but, citing “efficiency, fairness, and the interest of justice” he agreed to transfer the case for final disposition to the District Court of New Hampshire.
Despite Salinger's opposition, Graves told PW that the publisher has licensed the book to 10 foreign publishers, and that there are now six foreign editions in print.