Monday, May 30, 2016

Brought to book: when publishers go to court

A writer has just won a legal battle with Marvel and DC, but how do publishers usually fare in the courts?

Leonardo DiCaprio Howard Hughes The Aviator

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator. His ‘autobiography’ was revealed to be a hoax. Photograph: Photographer: Andrew Cooper/

Howard Hughes v McGraw-Hill (1972)McGraw-Hill believed they’d pulled off a coup by acquiring the “autobiography” of reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes, based on interviews with Clifford Irving. But Hughes angrily telephoned reporters and sued the publisher, saying he’d had no dealings with Irving, who was swiftly exposed as a hoaxer. (McGraw-Hill cheques totalling $650,000 had gone to an “HR Hughes” who turned out to be Helga Hughes, an alias used by Irving’s wife.) Publisher loss
Mr X v Chatto and DJ Taylor (1992)In his novel Real Life, the writer absent-mindedly gave a media figure’s name to his book’s Soho porn baron, chum of the Krays and maker of the film Spank Academy. Awkwardly, Taylor had accidentally also given other personal details about Mr X (eg where he lived) to the fictional character. He paid half of the out-of-court settlement of “the lower end of five figures”. Publisher loss

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