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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Dispute Over Salinger Stories Moved to N.H.

(CN) - A federal judge transferred a fight over three J.D. Salinger short stories from Western Tennessee to New Hampshire, where a trustee and widow of the late author lives.

Memphis, Tenn. publishing company Devault-Graves Agency LLC sued Colleen Salinger and Matthew Salinger earlier this year in their capacities as trustees of the J.D. Salinger Literary Trust.

Devault-Graves wants to publish three short stories from "The Catcher in the Rye" author in foreign countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention, an international copyright agreement.

The trustees oppose the publication of the stories internationally, claiming that would violate their purported foreign copyrights in the stories. They can't stop Devault-Graves from publishing the stories domestically because they are public domain works in the United States, according to court records.

The Salingers argued that a Tennessee Federal Court does not have jurisdiction over them because they have had no contacts in Tennessee. The publisher disagrees, claiming the trustees have profited from sales of Salinger's copyrighted works in Tennessee.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Anderson granted the trustees' motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Western Tennessee district court lacked personal jurisdiction over them.

"Plaintiff has failed to meet its 'slight burden' of showing the existence of contacts between defendant trustees and Tennessee sufficient to authorize the exercise of personal jurisdiction under Tennessee's long-arm statute and the due process clause," Anderson wrote.

But the judge transferred the case to New Hampshire Federal Court, granting an alternative request made by Devault-Graves. Colleen Salinger, widow of the late author, lives in New Hampshire, according to the ruling.

Salinger died in New Hampshire in 2010 at age 91. He was known for his privacy, having given his last interview in 1980.

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