IPLaw360 reports on a lawsuit by a Stanford researcher against the estate of James Joyce to use material to supplement a book she has written about the author.

According to the story, the researcher, Professor Carol Shloss, removed material from her 2003 book about the Irish author and his daughter in response to threats of a copyright infringement lawsuit by the estate. She is now suing in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California to obtain a declaration that posting the removed material on her website as a companion to the book would not result in copyright infringement.

Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society has a copy of the suit. There is comment on the case in The New Yorker, and it was also mentioned in a lecture given last year by Matt Rimmer.

What I wonder about is how much of this material is actually copyrighted, given that at least some of it seems to have predated (in the USA) the 1976 Copyright Act, and (in the UK) the 1956 Act. (It is not clear from the complaint when all the material complained of was created. It’s also not entirely clear whether or when copyright in material created by third parties was transferred into the estate.)