Swedish author settles Salinger copyright suit

Vivian Tse
Vivian Tse - [email protected]
Swedish author settles Salinger copyright suit

Swedish author and publisher Fredrik Colting has settled a lawsuit with the estate of J.D. Salinger over the publication of his book, a so-called "unauthorised sequel to The Catcher in the Rye."


The reclusive Salinger died in January 2010. His son Matthew and widow Colleen O'Neill settled with Cotling in early December.

The agreement bars the publication of Colting's book 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye in the US and Canada until The Catcher in the Rye enters the public domain, Publishers Weekly reported on Tuesday.

"I'm really pleased with the whole thing, everything always works out for the best. The case is closed, the settlement is done, this time it is finished, which is nice, it took a long time," Colting told The Local on Wednesday.

Colting's battle with the Salinger estate began in the summer of 2009 after the book had already gone on sale in the UK and Sweden.

The book is about "one of the most famous characters in the world and imagining him growing old, living outside of his story, sort of like a modern Frankenstein, Salinger meeting his creation one day," according to Colting.

Colting is free to sell the book in other markets. The book went on sale in Brazil a month ago and is also available in Korea, Hungary, Turkey and Greece. However, he does not anticipate a major financial windfall from the settlement.

"I don't think so. If it is sold in the US, but I don't think I will see a lot of money coming out of Korea or Greece. Do they even have money in Greece? It will not make me rich at all. I'll make more money from [his publishing company] Nicotext," said Colting.

"This book can be a really great stepping stone. Agents and publishers will read my new manuscripts," he added.

Nicotext, which is based in Borås in western Sweden, publishes lifestyle and pop culture titles sold at fashion and household product chain Urban Outfitters chain in the US and UK and is not involved with Colting's disputed title.

According to the report, Colting is also barred from using the title Coming through the Rye, dedicating the book to Salinger and making any references to Salinger's iconic book in promotional material.

Colting managed to evade financial hardship from the suit after New York law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz intervened and offered to take on the case to the tune of $900,000 (6.17 million kronor) in billing.

"I haven't really spent anything, I've been sort of lucky. After they started writing about it in the press, a law firm contacted us. We don't have insurance or money to cover this, but it was really interesting to them," Colting recalled.

Seven lawyers worked on the case. In turn, the respected media and entertainment law firm, which employs a number of literature majors and works against censorship, received a lot of press.

The case also resulted in a court extending copyright protection to a single literary character from a lone work for the first time in the legal system.

The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 35 million copies since it was first published in 1951. Salinger guarded the work intensely, refusing all attempts to adapt the work for screen and stage, as well as any audio editions.

Previously, he also sued an author who had attempted to publish a biography including letters that Salinger had written to other others and friends. The book was eventually published with the letters' contents paraphrased.


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