A Disappointment

Submitted by patentadmin on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 11:19

Back in the dark ages, when I was in high school, my English literature class studied The Catcher in the Rye. Since at that time I planned to be an engineer, I made a point of showing no interest in literature. As the semester ended before we finished studying the book, I never did find out how it ended.

Now, I’m a lawyer – well, actually a patent attorney, but that is like being a lawyer – and people expect me to have some couth. So, imagine my joy when I saw the recent decision as to infringement of Salinger’s copyright in the book. Salinger et al. v. John Doe et al. Here was my opportunity to (1) write a blog; (2) pick up some classy, high-brow literary jargon to use at cocktail parties; and (3) finally find out how the story (?) ends.

The court’s decision runs to 37 turgid pages (“turgid” is a classy, literary word meaning, essentially, “swollen”¹) addressing the defendant’s claim of “fair use,” including an enlightening discussion of the distinction between “satire” and “parody” (this is an example of “sarcasm”). There are also lengthy analyses of the “transformative use” of Salinger’s characters. These analyses are so “deep” that I read them twice and I still don’t know what “transformative use” means.

The bottom line is that Salinger was awarded a preliminary injunction, but I still don’t know how the book ends.
¹ See E.A. Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

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