Law Center - POSTED: 2008/08/14 16:05
A federal appeals court Wednesday reversed a ruling that awarded one of John Steinbeck's sons and a granddaughter publishing rights to 10 of the author's early works, including "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men."
The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will leave the rights in the hands of Penguin Group Inc. and the heirs of John Steinbeck's widow, Elaine. Author John Steinbeck died in 1968; his wife in 2003.
The appeals court said a lower court judge misapplied copyright law in awarding the rights in 2006 to the son, Thomas Steinbeck, and granddaughter Blake Smyle. Both already receive a portion of the proceeds of sales.
The case was returned to the lower court with instructions to leave the rights with various individuals and organizations, including the publisher Penguin and Elaine Steinbeck's heirs. The heirs include her sister, four children and grandchildren.
Mark S. Lee, the lawyer representing Thomas Steinbeck and Blake Smyle, said he was disappointed with the ruling.
Attorney Susan J. Kohlmann, who represented Steinbeck's estate, said the estate and its heirs were delighted, saying Wednesday's ruling meant "the wishes of John Steinbeck related to ownership of his literary works have been validated."