Update – Unauthorized Sequel to Catcher in the Rye Permanently Enjoined, by Agreement

In a prior series of posts (see “fictional characters” category), I wrote about a so-called unauthorized sequel to J.D. Salinger’s classic Catcher in the Rye that the trial court ordered enjoined from publication. The publisher took the case on appeal, and the appellate court overturned that decision, ruling that the injunction could remain in place for ten days after the entry of the remand order. Salinger v. Colting, No. 09-2878 (2d Cir. April 10, 2010) (copy available on FindLaw). Following stipulated extensions of the injunction, the case finally settled for undisclosed terms.

In a “Permanent Injunction and Final Order on Consent” filed on December 14, 2010, the Southern District of New York entered a permanent injunction against the manufacture, publication, distribution, shipment, advertisement, promotion, sale or other dissemination of the book – “or any portion thereof” – in the U.S. Salinger et al. v. Colting, writing under the name John David California, et al., Civil Action No. 09-5095, ECF No. 55 (Pacer access required). The parties also agreed to forego any appeals, thereby suggesting that unless one of the parties violates the settlement agreement, we will not be seeing this particular title on U.S. shores while the Agreement is in force. (A quick Internet search reveals that the book remains available in certain markets overseas.) The Order also requires the clerk of court to close this case.

This agreed-upon settlement means that despite defendants’ victory in the appellate court, there must have been some risk remaining that they might lose at trial. Because the terms of the settlement were undisclosed, one can only speculate that this risk must have been significant enough to balance the expense they already incurred in producing the book, including publicity and advertising, and not receiving sales revenues for it. Perhaps the risk of monetary damages (17 U.S.C. § 504) or fee shifting (awarding attorneys’ fees and costs to the prevailing party – 17 U.S.C. § 505) prompted the decision.

The reversal on appeal of the Court’s initial injunction has been covered in news articles and blogs (see, e.g., New York Times coverage of the case and the appeal), but I have not seen much about the settlement and agreed-to permanent injunction.