Score One For The Phonies

J.D. Salinger's estate recently barred Frederik Colting, an obscure Swedish writer, from publishing his novel in North America because it uses Salinger and Holden Caulfield as characters. W.W. at Prospero scoffs:

Given the all-too-successful legal and legislative efforts of Disney, the recording industry and artists like Salinger, the prevailing model of copyright has come to appear as yet one more way in which our political economy is rigged to protect privilege. This shift in perception can be explained by a bigger shift in our creative culture. The rise of the arts of the sample, the remix and the mashup alongside the emergence of the open-source software movement has engendered a growing sense that creative work both draws from and adds to a common pool of shared culture.

This change in the mood and tools of the creative class has made Salinger's legal aggression against biographers, filmmakers and inferior writers seem less like charming New Hampshire get-off-my-lawn curmudgeonism and more like a contemptible failure of generosity. A decent man does not shoot at kids taking a shortcut across his back forty. But Salinger, again and again, lawyered up, aimed carefully, and fired.