To Kill A Mockingbird Author Sues For Rights To Her Book

By Staff Writer | May 04, 2013 07:55 PM EDT


Mockingbird Author Sues: Harper Lee,  author of "To Kill A Mockingbird," Harper Lee, is suing her literary agent.  Lee's lawsuit claims that her agent tricked her into assigning the copyright on the Pulitzer Prize winning "To Kill A Mockingbird" to him.

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The "To Kill A Mockingbird" author is suing her agent in a federal court in Manhattan. The suit is being brought against Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's longtime agent, Eugene Winick, who represented Lee for over 40 years. Winick became ill in 2002, and subsequently Pinkus diverted several of his father in law's clients to his own company, according to Lee's lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit over "To Kill A Mockingbird", Pinkus "engaged in a scheme to dupe" Lee into giving him her "To Kill a Mockingbird" copyright-without being paid a dime. The alleged act occurred in 2007, when Harper Lee was 80. 

The lawsuit also alleges Pinkus failed to respond to publishers on a number of occasions regarding new editions of  "To Kill A Mockingbird". Pinkus allegedly did not respond to Lee's publisher, HarperCollins, regarding assistance for the 50th anniversary edition of the book; he also allegedly did not respond regarding licensing rights for an e-book edition.

According to the lawsuit, Pinkus transferred Lee's rights for "To Kill A Mockingbird"  over to himself in an "irrevocable" manner in order to collect money from the book's sale and, in addition, to avoid paying his father-in-law's firm money he owed for royalties he had misappropriated.

Lee, 87, lives in Monroeville, Alabama. She is rarely seen in public and is suffering from deteriorating hearing and eyesight. According to the suit, she has no memory of signing the transfer agreement, or of agreeing to the transfer to begin with.

The lawsuit asks the court that rights over the book and commissions Pinkus received since 2007 be returned to Lee. It notes that Pinkus has not provided royalty statements.

"To Kill A Mockingbird", a classic that has sold over 30 million copies since being published in 1960, is the only novel Lee ever published. It tells the story of two children growing up in a Southern town and addresses racial issues, social justice, and coming of age.



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