J.D. Salinger, who died Wednesday at the age of 91, spent the last year of his life waging a wrong-headed battle against the fair-use exemption to copyright law, which allows for the use of copyrighted materials without permission under certain limited circumstances.
A Swedish humorist who goes by the name of J.D. California wrote a sequel to Salinger’s most famous work, “The Catcher in the Rye,” called “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye.” Salinger sued for copyright violation, even though parody is protected by fair use.
Last summer I gave Salinger a Boston Phoenix Muzzle Award for this outrage against free speech. I am, of course, under no illusions that Salinger ever knew or cared. What’s more disturbing is that the courts held up publication of “60 Years Later,” and that the case is still pending.
Let’s hope Salinger’s heirs drop the suit.