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Steinbeck Heirs on Supreme Court Decision

May 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On Monday, May 18, 2009, the United States Supreme Court announced it will not hear a case filed earlier this year by Thomas Steinbeck and Blake Smyle, the son and granddaughter of the late Nobel Prize-winning author, John Steinbeck.

Mr. Steinbeck and Ms. Smyle had petitioned the court to review the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Penguin Group (USA) Inc. v. Steinbeck, which held that Steinbeck’s descendants could not recapture the copyrights to some of John Steinbeck’s greatest works, including Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.

There were insufficient votes at the Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision, which ignored Congress’s intent as reflected in the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. The denial of a hearing by the Supreme Court is not an endorsement of the lower court’s decision.

In a statement, John Steinbeck’s eldest son, author Thomas Steinbeck, expressed “profound disappointment” that the high court did not intervene.

Mr. Steinbeck noted: “At stake is far more than our own situation – the Supreme Court could have protected all the authors and artists in America from a future of intellectual bondage to big corporate publishers. The publishers, like slave-owners characterized by Abraham Lincoln, want to command writers, ‘You grow the grain, you make the bread, and we’ll eat it.’

“The pettifogging machinations of my late step-mother’s lawyers do not mean that the Second Circuit was correct, it only means that the Supreme Court chose not to hear us at this time.”

John Steinbeck’s granddaughter, Blake Smyle said, “This is about family. My grandfather would be deeply saddened to know that his contributions are now in the hands of strangers.”

Mr. Steinbeck vows to continue to seek proper delegation of his father’s legacy and to press forward on behalf of the families of other authors similarly situated to his position.

“If artists and their families cannot protect their rights, then everyone will ultimately suffer.”

SOURCE Thomas Steinbeck


Source: newswire



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