Wednesday News: suing RT, collecting from Joyce, reading like Bowie, and snapping readers
Pseudonymous litigation, and alleged skulduggery in the world of romance novelists – I missed this story in September, but a DA reader kindly submitted it for the news, and it is definitely news. Author Randi Alexander and model/musician Jackson Young (both pseudonyms), are suing Kathryn Falk, Romantic Times, and Gracie Wilson (pseudonymous author) for, among other things, defamation, interference with trade, civil conspiracy, and infliction of emotional distress. I won’t restate the specific allegations here, but they are NASTY. You can check them out in the link above, which is basically Eugene Volokh’s quick summary of the case and the plaintiffs’ argument to sue under their pseudonyms (docket summary is here). Because if the allegations were not noteworthy enough, this case also tests the legal presumption that litigants will use their real names in pursuing or defending a case. While there are exceptions, this case doesn’t rely on the most obvious (e.g. protection from harassment, physical retaliation, etc.). However, the judge is allowing the pseuds to stand at least until trial, and you can read some of the reasoning below. If the plaintiffs are allowed to retain their pseudonyms through trial, it may open the door for other suits that may otherwise be deemed too risky.
Given that Plaintiffs are known to Defendants and the professional communities in which they have allegedly been defamed only by their professional pseudonyms, the public interest in requiring that Plaintiffs sue in their true names is not strong. Assuming that there may be some validity to Plaintiffs’ allegations that they have been defamed, requiring them to sue in their true names would potentially spread the damaging effects of the defamation to the arena of their private lives where it has not yet reached.
Defendants’ counsel had been provided with Plaintiffs’ true identities and is able to conduct discovery relevant to the claims in this case…. Accordingly, … Plaintiffs may proceed with this action under their professional pseudonyms, and without disclosing their true names to the Defendants or the public, up to the time of trial. Prior to trial, the Court will determine whether Plaintiffs should be required to publicly disclose their true names at trial. – Volokh Conspiracy
Stanford researcher gets six-figure settlement from James Joyce Estate – Speaking of literary lawsuits, here’s a doozy. James Joyce’s grandson, Stephen, has done everything he can to stop any legitimate (and legal) use of the elder Joyce’s work, including unpublished work and family histories. Stanford scholar Carol Loeb Shloss already scored a legal victory in 2007, when she won the rights to use material the estate wanted to keep private, but the expense of the case was still substantial, and Shloss finally settled with the estate for $240,000. Fortunately, she had the backing of the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society’s Fair Use Project, as well as a number of outside attorneys. The situation was doubly unfair for Shloss and her 2003(!) book on Joyce’s daughter, Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, because her publisher ended up pulling the book, even though the law was clearly on their side. So this case is a victory for Joyce scholarship (which isn’t exactly attracting throngs of graduate students these days), and theoretically a good omen for other overly-aggressive estates, although the costs to fight these cases are still substantial enough to be deterring.
Shloss began researching her book in 1988. During a visit to Stephen Joyce’s Paris home that year, the writer’s grandson warned her of his determination to protect what he considered the Joyce family’s privacy rights. After studying the 50 unpublished notebooks that the author used to write Finnegans Wake, Shloss challenged the long-accepted image of Lucia Joyce, who was institutionalized in mental asylums for decades, as the schizophrenic daughter of a man of genius. Instead, Shloss saw the young dancer as a creative, independent figure who was an inspiration for her father’s work.
In subsequent years, according to a 2006 court filing, the author’s grandson and the estate’s trustee made “attempts to interfere with Shloss’ research, to stop publication of her book, to damage her relationship with her employer, and to misuse the copyrights they control.”
In 2002, when Shloss’ book was nearing publication, Joyce pressured her publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, to delete material from the book or face a lawsuit. The publisher complied rather than fight the issue. – Stanford News
DUNCAN JONES HONORS HIS DAD BY ANNOUNCING THE DAVID BOWIE BOOK CLUB – David Bowie’s son has found a fitting tribute to his father, a lifelong reader whose fans cross generations and backgrounds, in The David Bowie Book Club. The Twitter-based discussion of – at least to start – Bowie’s 100 favorite books, which include Madame Bovary, The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, The Age of American Unreason, and The Gnostic Gospels.
The book club will stick to Bowie’s 100 favorite books from the previously mentioned list, and the first book to be discussed will be the 1985 novel Hawksmoor by Peter Aykroyd, an author who Jones says was one of his father’s “true loves.” If you want to follow along with the book club, the deadline to finish the 288 page novel is February 1, so you better get to your local library or hit up your local bookseller or Amazon soon. Stay tuned to Jones’ Twitter feed for the discussions. – Nerdist
Striking photos of readers around the world – Although it’s almost a year old now, this is a lovely piece on Steve McCurry’s book, including some of the remarkable photos he took of people reading across 40 years and 30 countries.
“Readers are seldom lonely or bored, because reading is a refuge and an enlightenment,” writes Paul Theroux in the foreword to the new Phaidon book Steve McCurry: On Reading. “This wisdom is sometimes visible. It seems to me that there is always something luminous in the face of a person in the act of reading.” . . .
McCurry was inspired by a great Hungarian pioneer. “I met the legendary photographer André Kertész shortly after I moved to New York in my early thirties,” says Steve McCurry in the book’s introduction. “Some of his most intriguing pictures were photographs of people reading. They were taken over a 50-year period, and were collected in his book On Reading, published in 1971.” McCurry’s new book is, he argues, “my homage to Kertész’s talent, his influence, and his genius”. – BBC Culture