Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Extent of Copyright In Original, Unpublished Material: Raymond Carver's Stories

Matthew J. Weldon, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, has published Publishing Raymond Carver's 'Original' Stories as 'Fair Use' in volume 7 of the Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal (2008/2009). Here is the abstract.

This is a paper on copyright law as it relates the controversy of publishing Raymond Carver's stories in their unedited form.

The controversy arose when Raymond Carver's widow, Tess Gallagher, expressed her desire to publish these stories because Carver's editor, Gordon Lish, had dramatically changed their character and style. Indeed, she claimed that these unedited stories represented the "real" Caver, whom she wished to reveal to the world. However, Carver's estate no longer owned the copyrights to these stories.

The issue is particularly interesting because the "original" versions of the stories are considerably different from the published versions as edited by Lish. Thus, there is some ambiguity as to whether they are covered by the copyright of the published stories - in essence, they are the building blocks of the published versions, and thus it is unclear whether they would be considered derivative works.

These questions aside, this papers explores the role of an editors and various ways that editors receive recognition for their efforts. It then explores joint authorship under American law, and how the Carver situation would be different in a jurisdiction where moral rights are recognized. Finally, "fair use" is applied to to the particular facts to allow the revelation of Carver's unedited oeuvre.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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