Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Of Mice and Millions

Steinbeck novels are the issue of a dispute between Steinbeck's biological heirs and his legal heirs. The disagreement probably has its origins in long-held family tensions according to the Los Angeles Times. Steinbeck was married three times. He had no children with his first or third wife. The second wife bore his two sons and his last surviving son Thomas and his daughter Black Smyle are fighting the heirs of Steinbeck's third wife.

The Steinbecks lost in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the family's petition, which argued that Steinbeck's biological heirs had a right under U.S. copyright law to terminate earlier publishing agreements with Penguin and negotiate a newer, more lucrative one. The Supreme Court has refused to hear the case.

Steinbecks Grandaughter Blake Smyle issued a press release saying "This is about family. My grandfather would be deeply saddened to know that his contributions are now in the hands of strangers."

The specifics of the case had to do with interpretations in certain changes to copy right law. Which is weird because as pointed out at, if copyright law hadn't changed to extend copyright protection, Steinbeck's works would be in the public domain by now.

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