I may be a minority, but I find it odd to think a literary character, rather than the work he appears in, can be copyrighted. Nonetheless, the judge hearing J.D. Salinger’s lawsuit seeking to block publication of 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye apparently thinks Holden Caulfield is “a portrait by words.” Funny, I might think of Catcher in the Rye as analogous to a painting, but the character himself?
Holden Caulfield is a cultural icon of adolescent alienation (or at least was at one time). Can no creative work employ him as a symbol with resonance for an entire generation without J.D. Salinger’s permission (that, by all appearances, he would never grant)?
I’ve long argued here that the law does not, and should not be read to, forbid making cultural reference to the intellectual property of another — even creatively or commercially. If it did, or it were, that would pretty much be the end of culture, after all, wouldn’t it?
We know that J. D. Salinger couldn’t care less about that. He’s got his, after all — and the link above, a little further down in the post, demonstrates just where he got it.
But hey. All morons hate it when you call them a moron.
One hopes that judges, however, do care. People always think something’s all true. But we count on judges to follow these subtle distinctions.
Hat tip to @CopyrightLaw.