Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Happy Bloomsday

Friday is Bloomsday-- the annual celebration of James Joyce. In honor of the day, get thee to this excellent New Yorker article, THE INJUSTICE COLLECTOR, which provides as good an example as any I've seen recently of the absurdities of current copyright overreach and the erosion of fair use.

Stephen Joyce, James's grandson, controls and inhibits scholarly use of Joyce's works with an iron-fist and with what seems to be incredible caprciousness:

Most prickly literary estates are interested in suppressing unflattering or intrusive information, but no one combines tolltaker, brand enforcer, and arbiter of taste as relentlessly as Stephen does, and certainly not in such a personal way. In 2003, Eloise Knowlton, a Joycean and a novelist, asked permission to publish a fictional version of “Sweets of Sin,” the risqué novel that Bloom picks up for his wife, Molly. (“Ulysses” offers only a glimpse of its contents.) Stephen wrote back, “Neither I nor the others who manage this Estate will touch your hare-brained scheme with a barge pole in any manner, shape or form.” When turning down a request for permission from an academic whose work was going to be published by Purdue, he said that he objected to the name for the university’s sports teams: the Boilermakers. (He considered it vulgar.)
But perhaps he's now met his match: Joyce's attempts to censor publication of Carol Scloss's work on Lucia Joyce will provide the basis for a lawsuit soon to be filed by Lawrence Lessig. This will definitely be a case to follow.

(p.s. speaking of Joyce: we've decided on a honeymoon spot: Ireland!)


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