Harper Lee Suing Literary Agent for Stealing To Kill a Mockingbird Copyright

Posted on May 4, 2013

Harper Lee is suing her literary agent for fraudulently inducing her into signing away her copyright to her iconic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The BBC reports that in the lawsuit Lee, 87, alleges that Samuel Pinkus tricked her into signing a document that that transferred her copyright to him. Lee says he took advantage of her failing eyesight and hearing and duped her into signing the transfer papers, which she never intended to do.

Samuel Pinkus is the son in law of Lee's longtime agent, Eugene Winick. In 2002, Winick became ill and Pinkus transferred several clients to his own firm. The lawsuit says Pinkus fraudulently transferred the rights to the income from the book to himself. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan and is sure to cause major repercussions.

Lee also alleges in the lawsuit that Pinkus has ignored all the requests for licensing rights for films and other projects, has refused request to license the books in digital format for ebooks, and that he totally ignored requests to cooperate for celebrations of the books' 50th anniversary. Lee is asking that her copyright be returned to her, that Pinkus pay back any commissions he earned on the book since 2007 and that Pinkus pay unspecified damages.

If these allegations are true, Pinkus has committed a very serious crime.


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