Harper Lee Sues Agent Over To Kill a Mockingbird

Author says he tricked her into signing over copyright

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 4, 2013 6:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Atticus! Harper Lee has sued her former literary agent, claiming that he tricked her into signing over the rights and royalties of To Kill a Mockingbird, reports Reuters. The 87-year-old author alleges that Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of her late longtime agent, pulled a fast one on her while she was recovering from a stroke in 2007. “Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see,” says the complaint filed in federal court yesterday. “Harper Lee had no idea she had assigned her copyright."

The story gets a little convoluted from there. The AP says Lee is suing to "re-secure" the copyright to the 1960 novel, but Bloomberg reports that she actually got the copyright back last year in a separate legal action. It adds, however, that Pinkus was still receiving royalties through the legal arrangement he set up in 2007. The new suit demands that he forfeit all of his Mockingbird commissions since the deal. Pinkus himself has not responded publicly.

Watching the filming of a scene for the 1962 movie To Kill a Mockingbird are producer Alan Pakula and author Harper Lee.
Watching the filming of a scene for the 1962 movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" are producer Alan Pakula and author Harper Lee.   (AP Photo)
Harper Lee in a 2007 file photo.
Harper Lee in a 2007 file photo.   (AP Photo/Jamie Martin)
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