Are you sure you aren't thinking of the successful "self-plagiarism" suit over Hammett's stories in his anthology "The Adventures Of Sam Spade"? I'm not saying you are wrong - in fact, this sounds quite reasonable - but this case seems like it would have leapt to my eye back in my copyright classes. Or could this have been an ancillary cause of action?
----- Original Message -----
From: Vince Emery
Sent: Friday, September 03, 2010 11:29
Subject: RARA-AVIS: RE: rights to characters in books, radio, and films - Sam Spade
> Does anybody know then this exploitative notion of "right to characters"
started in the film industry? It's atrocious for writers that somebody would
have a right to something they haven't even written (future installments in
a series, for example). Or am I reading this wrong? It seems that there is
almost a boilerplate expectation on the part of those buying film rights,
which makes me wonder how it started and why it has been accepted.
From a legal standpoint, one of the landmark cases occurred when Warner
Bros. fought the CBS network, Sam Spade's radio sponsor (Wildroot hair oil),
its advertising agency, producer, director, and Dashiell Hammett over the
radio series "The Adventures of Sam Spade." Warner said it owned rights to
the characters "and other materials" because it bought all performance
rights to "The Maltese Falcon."
The original lawsuit was filed May 28, 1948, and after appeal was resolved
in Hammett's favor on November 9, 1954.
You can find the appeals court decision here:
For Hammett's lengthy affidavit, in which he describes "The Maltese Falcon"
and his interest in and use of his character Sam Spade, see Discovering The
Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade, pages 328-337.
Vince Emery Productions
- THE DASHIELL HAMMETT TOUR by Don Herron
- DISCOVERING THE MALTESE FALCON AND
SAM SPADE edited by Richard Layman
- HAMMETT'S MORAL VISION
by George J. "Rhino" Thompson
- LOST STORIES by Dashiell Hammett
Box 460279, San Francisco, CA 94146 USA
firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 1.415.337.6000
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