Harper Lee sues over To Kill a Mockinbird copyright

HARPER Lee, who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, has launched a legal action to get back the copyright to the classic novel.

Harper Lee. Picture: Getty

The lawsuit, filed in a court in Manhattan, New York, seeks unspecified damages from the son-in-law of Lee’s former literary agent and companies he allegedly created.

The lawsuit claims that Samuel Pinkus failed properly to protect the copyright of the book after his father-in-law, Eugene Winick, became ill a decade ago.

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Winick had represented Lee as a literary agent since the book was published in 1960 through the firm McIntosh and Otis.

The 87-year-old author alleges Pinkus took advantage of her declining hearing and eyesight seven years ago to get her to sign over the book’s copyright to him and a company he controlled.

Lee, who lives in Monroeville, Alabama, has taken legal action to get the copyright reassigned, but alleges that Pinkus still received commissions.

“The transfer of ownership of an author’s copyright to her agent is incompatible with her agent’s duty of loyalty; it is a gross example of self-dealing,” the lawsuit says.

To Kill A Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The film version won three Academy Awards.