HarperCollins Shuts Down Proposed Kickstarter Project for a Sequel to Where the Wild Things Are

Posted on July 7, 2013

HarperCollins put a stop to a Kickstarter project which would help fund a sequel to the late Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are. The rights to create derivative works from the book are owned by the estate of Maurice Sendak. The outspoken Sendak also made it very clear that he never wanted a sequel written.

HarperCollins sent a DMCA notice to Kickstarter who posted this notice:

Re: BACK TO THE WILD - Inspired by Where The Wild Things Are

Description of copyrighted material: The copyrighted material is the original text and artwork for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak

Description of infringing material: The infringing material is a proposal to create a "sequel" to WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, entitled "Back to the Wild," using the characters, scenes and copyrightable elements of the original work. Any such unauthorized "sequel" would clearly violate the Estate's right to create derivative works.

The cancelled Kickstarter project was created by Geoffrey O. Todd and Rich Berner, who wanted to raise 25,000 pounds to publish an illustrated poem/ sequel in hardcover.

Here was their pitch as reported by GalleyCat: "How does Back to the Wild connect with Where The Wild Things Are? Sophie is Max's daughter and she too is excited to hear about the strange Wild Things, but time has elapsed. Max in our world, is now probably in his 30s and the Wild Things have been 'marooned' for almost 30 years ... We have also been very careful not to impinge on Mr Sendak's copyright and have taken the necessary legal advice around this whole project. We fully acknowledge his wondrous creation and hope that our work takes the story forward in a respectful, engaging and creative way."

They say they took legal advice, but we assume it was from a British lawyer. No American copyright lawyer would give them the all-clear given that the project uses character's from Sendak's original book.
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