A 1994 agreement signed by the widow of John Steinbeck trumps a claim made by two of the late author’s heirs under copyright law, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Reversing a lower court, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a 1938 agreement in which John Steinbeck gave the sole and exclusive rights to publish “Of Mice and Men” and several other works was terminated and superseded by a 1994 agreement between Elaine Steinbeck and Penguin Books.

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