Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003503, Thu, 19 Nov 1998 15:07:49 -0800

Re: Lo's Diary: What's the Law? (fwd)
According to <http://www.templetons.com/brad//copymyths.html> (myth
#6), writing fiction with characters from someone else's copyrighted work
requires permission EXCEPT in parodies. Thus a court case on _Lo's Diary_
might hinge on the question of whether the book qualifies as a parody.
This exemption is part of the "fair use" provision in U.S. copyright law,
meant to keep copyright restrictions from interfering with creativity.
Section 2.9 of Terry Carroll's copyright FAQ at
<http://www.aimnet.com/%7Ecarroll/copyright/faq-home.html> discusses the
ambiguity and room for subjectivity in other aspects of fair-use law.
One issue that neither site addresses is whether changing the
character's names provides any protection.
So the answer to your question "But does anyone know...?" may be "No."

At 02:23 PM 11/18/98 -0800, you wrote:
>From: Jay Livingston (livingston@montclair.edu)
> Most of the discussion here seems to have been over what's right and
>wrong. But I'm curious about the legal issues.
> The potential American publisher of "Lo's Diary" backed down, so we
>never got to see the case argued in court. But does anyone know what the
law is
>on these matters--in the U.S. at least (presumably it's looser in Italy and
>perhaps other European countries)? Do authors own their characters--does the
>Nabokov estate own Lolita--in the same way that Disney owns Mickey Mouse?
> If Shakespeare's heirs still had copyright protection, would
>"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" be gathering dust in Stoppard's
> Or could I, without fear of a successful lawsuit, publish a book with
>the title "P is for Plagiarism" featuring a detective named Kinsey
>EDITOR's NOTE. Oddly, there is a book that traces Kinsey M.'s life thru
>her alphabetic adventures. Whether Sue Grafton or her publisher
>"authorized" it, I don't know. I wonder if the author of the
>"meta-Millhone" book meditates on that first name? Why "Kinsey"?x