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Random House, Inc. v. Salinger
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
811 F.2d 90 (1987)
Ian Hamilton (defendant) sought to write a biography of reclusive author J. D. Salinger (plaintiff). Salinger refused to cooperate, but this did not stop Hamilton from researching and writing J. D. Salinger: A Writing Life for the publisher Random House, Inc. (defendant). Hamilton accessed Salinger’s unpublished letters in the collections of library universities and quoted them in the manuscript. Upon receiving a copy of the manuscript, Salinger copyrighted 79 of his unpublished letters—which he did not wish to be published during his lifetime—and expressed his objection to publication of the book. In response to Salinger’s objections, Hamilton revised the book to change direct quotes from the letters into close paraphrases, though some quotes remained. In either form, content from the letters appeared on at least 40 percent of the pages in the manuscript. Salinger brought suit, seeking an injunction against publication of the book. Hamilton and Random House cited fair use as a defense, and the district court found in their favor. Salinger appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Newman, J.)
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