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Harper Lee settles suit with hometown museum

Claims the museum used images from her book to make a profit

Harper Lee photo courtesy of Wikipedia

For many, Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird” operates as the foundation for our understanding of morality in an unjust world. But recently, the classic book has been embroiled in another contentious issue surrounding the justice system. On Feb. 19, Lee and the Monroe County Heritage museum struck a deal, settling a previously filed lawsuit.

In Oct. 2013, Lee filed a complaint against a Monroeville, Ala. based museum for allegedly selling items that capitalized on images associated with the book to make money. Monroeville is also Lee’s hometown.

According to the complaint “The town’s desire to capitalize upon the fame of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is unmistakable: Monroeville’s town logo features an image of a mockingbird and the cupola of the Old County Courthouse, which was the setting for the dramatic trial in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'."

The complaint went on to say that the museum made little effort to report on any actual historical events in the town, rather setting up exhibits that showed items relating to, “the fictional story, settings and characters that Harper Lee created in 'To Kill a Mockingbird.’” The statement also says that museum netted as much as $500,000 in 2011 from the sale of items that contained references to the story.

While and announcement that the Museum and Lee has reached a settlement followed this week, the details of that settlement have not been released.

This is not the first legal action that Lee has filed in relation to her single crowning literary work. In May 2013, Lee filed suit against the son-in-law of her agent, who had claimed lee as a client when his father-in-law became sick, and whom Lee says tried to dupe her into forking over the royalty rights of her book.

Now “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” can also serve as a lesson in copyright justice as well.


For more on copyrights, check out these stories:

Harper Lee sues agent over copyright

Flappy Bird flies no more after developer pulls game

Tech giants fight patent reform

Executive Editor

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Chris DiMarco

Chris DiMarco, Executive Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, has a background in multimedia production with previous involvement in projects in which he developed and created content...

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