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Marking Bloomsday With a Lawsuit

Today is Bloomsday, marking the 1904 day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom chronicled in James Joyce's Ulysses. In Ireland, the official commemoration is canceled, in deference to the funeral and burial of Charles J. Haughey, Ireland's former prime minister. Meanwhile, in the  United States, lawyers are observing the day in their own unique way -- commencing litigation.

As Lawrence Lessig reports on his blog, the Fair Use Project of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society has filed a copyright lawsuit on behalf of scholar Carol Loeb Shloss against Joyce's grandson and only surviving heir, Stephen Joyce, who claims the right to control access to Joyce's papers and letters. Lessig claims that Joyce is misusing copyright law to intimidate researchers and block publication of their work. More about the lawsuit and Stephen Joyce's battles with scholars can be found in an article by D.T. Max in the June 19 New Yorker.

Commenting on the case, Ted Frank at Overlawyered takes issue with the grounds underlying Lessig's lawsuit:

"Lessig's insistence on a misuse, rather than a right of fair use, legal theory is unfortunate: the suit would seek to revoke the copyright, and, if successful, could have implications that would make copyright litigation more, rather than less, likely."

A question Leopold Bloom once asked may apply by analogy to lawyers: "Do fish ever get seasick?" Happy Bloomsday.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 16, 2006 at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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