To Kill a Mockingbird Lawsuit

Adaptation of photograph by Sew Technicolor, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Copyright © 2009 Sew Technicolor.

Adaptation of photograph by Sew Technicolor, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Copyright © 2009 Sew Technicolor.

Anja Asato, Associate Editor- News

Harper Lee, the author of the famous book, To Kill a Mockingbird, filed a lawsuit on Friday regarding copyright and sales issues.  Lee rarely takes the spotlight or ventures out of the small Alabama town where she lives, which adds to the importance of the lawsuit to the 87-year-old author.

Lee filed a lawsuit against Samuel Pinkus, the son of her former literary agent, who allegedly took advantage of Lee seven years ago and tricked her into signing off the copyright of To Kill a Mockingbird to him and his company without any compensation.  This occurred just after she suffered a stroke, and was experiencing declining eyesight and hearing, and apparently had no recollection of the agreement.  She was also living in an assisted living home during this time, without advice and guidance from friends or family who could have stopped her from agreeing.  Lee’s lawyers also stated that “Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see,” furthering the case made that he tricked her while she was suffering health problems.

Since then, the lawsuit suggests that Pinkus has been earning commissions off the sales of the novel, even after Lee got a copyright reassignment.  The lawsuit filed by Lee states that, “the transfer of ownership of an author’s copyright to her agent is incompatible with her agent’s duty of loyalty; it is a gross example of self-dealing.”

Although To Kill a Mockingbird is the only book Lee has authored, is a best-selling classic and Pulitzer Prize Winner.