Penguin Faces Off in Plagiarism Suit
Starting July 17, 2007, Penguin will be in court to defend itself from allegations of copyright infringement by Stuart Silverstein. For anyone not familiar with how slowly the wheels of justice churn, Silverstein’s case is illlustrative. The story begins in 1994 when Silverstein shopped around a compilation of 122 Dorothy Parker poems, many of which had never been included in book form.
He brought the collection to Penguin and was offered $2,000 for an advance. Silverstein declined and eventually published the collection, NOT MUCH FUN: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker through Scribner. In 1999, Penguin released, Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems in 1999, which was essentially a “comma by comma” copy of Silverstein’s work. The Penguin editor admitted that she copied Silverstein’s book and cut and pasted the poems into Complete Poems.
(as an aside, I wonder if this was the same editor who allegedly asked Millenia Black to blackify her book?)
Silverstein filed suit and it has gone round and round (all the way to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal) and is now set for trial. The basis of the dispute is whether the compilation by Silverstein contains enough creativity to deserve a copyright.