THE trustees of James Joyce's estate failed last week to halt a 'fair use' copyright challenge being brought against it. The dispute revolves around research for a book, published in December 2003, called Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake and a planned supplementary website.
From 1988 to 2003, Carol Shloss (left), a Joycean scholar and an English professor at Stanford University, conducted research throughout the US and Europe on the creative impact of Lucia Joyce's relationship with her father.
During 1994, the estate of James Joyce became aware of the research and when asked two year later for help with the book, Stephen Joyce – a grandson of James – gave a "definitive no".
In August 2002, Joyce confirmed to Shloss that his position had not changed. He pointed out that: "Over the past few years we have proven that we are willing to take any necessary action to back and enforce what we legitimately believe in".
Three months later, Joyce wrote to Shloss' publisher saying that its claim of fair use "sounds like a bad joke or wishful thinking" and asked the publisher to "kindly bear in mind that there are more than one way (sic) to skin a cat".
The book (below) was published in December 2003, in heavily edited form. More than 30 pages (about 10%) were cut. Shloss said she then intended to place her full research notes on a website as an electronic supplement.
On the 13 June 2006 (to coincide with Bloomsday), the Stanford Centre's Fair Use Project took up her case and filed a law suit against Stephen Joyce on four counts, one of which claimed that the Joyce estate had misused its copyrights.
Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Centre lawyer involved in the case, said he believed it was the first case to accuse a literary estate of "copyright misuse". Anthony Falzone, director of Stanford's Fair Use Project, said: "We want an order by the court that holds that Shloss's website does not infringe on the estate's copyright. Because, among other things, it is protected by fair use".
Late last year, the estate of James Joyce applied to the US District Court for a motion to dismiss Shloss' case. In its filed opposition to the motion, Shloss' lawyers stated: "The Estate of James Joyce has waged a fifteen-year campaign of obstruction, intimidation and threats designed to thwart Stanford University Professor Carol Loeb Shloss in her efforts to write a biography of Lucia Joyce that explores (among other things) Lucia’s unacknowledged influence on, and contribution to, her famous father’s literary work".
In its ruling delivered last week, the US District Court in California denied the motion to dismiss the case and Shloss can now proceed with her case against Joyce's estate.