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Director Alan Pakula, left, and writer Harper Lee watch the filming of Lee's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird in this 1962 file photo.

, Associated Press

'Mockingbird' author Lee sues over copyright in NY

  • Associated Press
  • May 6, 2013 - 9:52 AM

NEW YORK - Harper Lee, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," filed a lawsuit Friday to re-secure the copyright to it.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan seeks unspecified damages from the son-in-law of Lee's former literary agent and companies he allegedly created.

The lawsuit alleges the son-in-law, Samuel Pinkus, failed to properly protect the copyright of the book after his father-in-law, Eugene Winick — who had represented Lee as a literary agent since the book was published in 1960 through the firm McIntosh and Otis — became ill a decade ago. The 87-year-old author alleges Pinkus took advantage of her declining hearing and eyesight seven years ago to get her to assign the book's copyright to him and a company he controlled.

Lee, who lives in Monroeville, Ala., has taken legal action to get the copyright reassigned but alleges Pinkus still received commissions.

"The transfer of ownership of an author's copyright to her agent is incompatible with her agent's duty of loyalty; it is a gross example of self-dealing," the lawsuit says.

The former agent's son-in-law didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" won the Pulitzer for fiction and is widely assigned in schools. The film version won three Academy Awards.

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