Harper Lee, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, has filed a lawsuit to re-secure the copyright to it. The lawsuit filed in Manhattan seeks damages from the son-in-law of Ms. Lee’s ex-literary agent and companies he allegedly created.
The lawsuit alleges the son-in-law, Samuel Pinkus, failed to protect the copyright after his father-in-law, Eugene Winick who had represented Ms. Lee as a literary agent since the book was published in 1960 became ill a decade ago. She alleges Mr. Pinkus took advantage of her declining hearing and eyesight seven years ago to get her to assign the copyright to him and a company he controlled. She alleges Mr. Pinkus still received commissions.
“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,” the lawsuit says.
The book won the Pulitzer for fiction and is widely assigned in schools.