Lovecraft Copyright Update

In the comments to the last post, Mr. Takeoka has mentioned this article by Chris Karr that appears to have been posted last week on the Lovecraft copyrights.  It’s got quite a good amount of original source material, including what purports to be a copy of the famous Morris-Lewis gift that has been a key basis of Arkham House’s claim.  (To this untrained eye, it looks more like a granting of publication rights than a handing over of copyright as some have maintained.)

Some parts of the documentation, if true, would be quite damaging to Arkham House’s claims.  Of particular interest is a description of Forrest Hartmann, the lawyer who managed AH after August Derleth’s death.  According to Karr’s account, Hartmann took a hard-line approach to defending the estate’s copyright claims.  Yet at the same time, as he battled Donald Wandrei in court over the publisher’s assets, he was filing papers with the court stating that Wandrei couldn’t get any income from the rights to Lovecraft because all of the stories were public domain!  April Derleth dismissed him when she found out what had happened. (I think there’s a standard “counsel was clueless” defense that’s been used in the past, so Hartmann’s actions might not be as harmful to AH’s case as Karr suggests.)

This is, of course, some document on the Intertubes without supporting documentation save for a couple Wikisource pieces, so I have no idea how accurate it might be.  As it doesn’t appear to have been mentioned in any of the usual HPL fora, I thought it deserved a view from those with more experience who can give it closer scrutiny or give other perspectives.  So, have at it!

Published in: on October 18, 2007 at 8:26 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I feel that I had better add one thing. It is Chris Karr himself that put up the will of Annie Gamwell and the Morrish-Lewis gift on Wikisource, so his article is supported by nothing other than by his own material.

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author_talk:Howard_Phillips_Lovecraft

    I believe that these two documents are authentic, but I have no idea where they come from. Have they ever been published?

  2. The documents cited in my work come directly from the Donald Wandrei archives from the Minnesota Historical Society. I requested copies of the papers from:

    http://www.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00194.html

    Last summer (2006), I received copies of the papers and my paper is based upon copies of legal documents, letters, and other sources provided by MHS. If you’d like copies of any of the documents mentioned, I’d be happy to scan them and provide digital versions. Please contact me via the provided address to discuss the details.

    Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.

    -Chris


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