Who owns and who controls the intellectual property rights of an author after he or she dies are always important issues. But they take on special significance when the rights encompass works that are unpublished.
This year has seen the publication of the unfinished and posthumous novels of two famous writers — Ernest Hemingway’s True at First Light and Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth, accompanied by accusations that the authors’ estates and publishers were robbing from the grave works that had been, at best, stillborn. In a response to these accusations, Hemingway’s son Patrick, who edited the posthumous novel, said, “Perhaps he didn’t intend to have it published, but when people are dead, it’s hard to know what they want.” [FOOTNOTE 1]
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