'To Kill a Mockingbird' author Harper Lee sues her agent over copyright

Sunday, 5 May 2013 - 7:09am IST | Agency: Reuters

According to the lawsuit, Samuel Pinkus in 2007 "engaged in a scheme to dupe" the then 80-year-old Lee into assigning her "To Kill a Mockingbird" copyright without any payment.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "To Kill A Mockingbird," Harper Lee, on Friday sued her literary agent, claiming he tricked her into assigning the copyright on her book to him. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan against Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's long-time agent, Eugene Winick, who had represented her for more than 40 years. When Winick became ill in 2002, Pinkus diverted several of Winick's clients to his own company, the lawsuit said.

Pinkus engineered the transfer of Lee's rights to secure himself "irrevocable" interest in the income derived from her book and to avoid paying legal obligations he owed to his father-in-law's company for royalties that Pinkus allegedly misappropriated, the lawsuit said.

"To Kill A Mockingbird" tells the story of two children growing up in a small southern town. The book addresses racial injustice, as the children's attorney father is selected to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. The man is convicted despite his innocence. It is the only novel that Lee ever published.

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