The long saga of Professor Carol Shloss's dispute with the Estate of James Joyce over her right to use copyrighted source materials in connection with her biography of Lucia Joyce has come to a remarkable end: Last May, the Court ordered the Estate to pay more than $326,000 in attorneys' fees. After initially appealing that decision to the Ninth Circuit, the Estate thought better of it and agreed to pay $240,000 in fees to resolve the matter once and for all.
This lawsuit represented the culmination of more than ten years of threats and intimidation by Stephen James Joyce, who purported to prohibit Professor Shloss from quoting from anything that James or Lucia Joyce ever wrote for any purpose. As a result of these threats, significant portions of source material were deleted from Shloss's book, Lucia Joyce: To Dance In The Wake. Roughly a year into the lawsuit, the Estate agreed to settle the case on terms that permit the publication of the material that was deleted. But Shloss also demanded the Estate pay attorneys' fees to compensate her counsel for the many hours they put in vindicating her rights in the face of the Estate's assertions of infringement. With this payment, much of that cost has been recouped.
The key here is to realize there are solutions to problems like the one Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation. The risks and costs of standing up for important rights like hers may be significant, but they can be managed. The playing field can be leveled and the tables can be turned. I hope this fact is impressed not only on other scholars, but also on the institutions that need to support them when they are faced with threats like these, as well as lawyers who are in a position to donate their time to help.
I hope what we accomplished here becomes a model for dealing with problems like the one Carol faced, whether my organization is involved or not. Whether that happens or not, I'm proud of Carol for standing her ground, proud of what we accomplished with her, and proud to have worked with the fantastic team of lawyers that got us here.