“Don’t piss off J.D. Salinger,” said Steven W. Beattle in Quill & Quire. The “famously reclusive author” of the “iconic” 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye filed a lawsuit Monday against the “improbably named” writer John David California for his book 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, a supposed sequel to Salinger’s original. J.D. California had better watch out: Salinger is “famously litigious,” and it’s unlikely that he’ll back down in his attempt to stop the book from being published.
And he shouldn’t, said Beliefnet. Aside from the many “intellectual property laws, copyright laws, and the like at play here,” what about the “moral and ethical considerations?” It’s a well-known fact that “Salinger is notoriously protective of his work,” and if John David California really is a fan of Salinger’s—as he claims to be—how could he “ever dream of betraying” the author’s wishes? J.D. California should be ashamed of himself for trying to “profit” from “someone else's creation.”
But “when does an iconic image, a shared artistic experience, or a germane public idea shift shape from private and protected to public and open to fair use?” said Vickie Karp in The Huffington Post. The Catcher in the Rye was published over a half-century ago, and it’s “no longer wholly and only” Salinger’s. Unless J.D. California’s book contains “direct, extensive, wholesale and verbatim lifting of the old text with no additional perspective or art,” he’s done nothing wrong.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- Feast your eyes on this beautiful linguistic family tree
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- 10 things you need to know today: October 31, 2014
- The culture war finally comes to the Catholic Church
Subscribe to the Week