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The June 1999 resolution of copyright infringement claims brought by Vladimir Nabokov’s estate against a book called Lo’s Diary and the book’s U.S. publication in October brought the long-debated issue of copyright and fictional characters to the surface once again.

Re-using fictional characters has been a writer’s venue for years, as authors have finished or written new adventures for Scarlett O’Hara, Jane Austen’s heroines, Dickens’ Edwin Drood, Alice in Wonderland, and Sherlock Holmes. But these stories were either done through licenses with the authors’ estates or were based on works in the public domain. Lolita was published in 1954, and its expression is protected by copyright law. And, until the agreement, Lo’s Diary, which tells the story from Lolita’s perspective, was not authorized by the author’s estate.

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