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Stanford Professor Wins Fees In Dispute With Joyce's Estate

Publication Date: 
September 28, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Bob Egelko

Bob Egelko filed this story on the final chapter in the Fair Use Project case Shloss v. Joyce:

A Stanford professor who battled James Joyce's estate for the right to quote family documents in research on one of the author's most celebrated works will get $240,000 from the estate for her legal fees, the university said Monday.

Carol Shloss' settlement with Joyce's heirs ends a court case in which the estate, fiercely protective of its rights to his works, refused to let Shloss use excerpts from his papers or his daughter's medical records in her 2003 book, "Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake."

The book's thesis was that Joyce's daughter Lucia, who spent most of her adult life in mental institutions, had been a gifted young woman and the inspiration for the main female character in "Finnegans Wake," Joyce's last novel, published two years before his death in 1941.

Threatened with a lawsuit, Shloss deleted material from the book, leading some critics to write that she had failed to back up her assertions. She then sued the estate and reached a settlement in 2007 that allowed her to restore the material in the United States and on the Internet.

That settlement was a compromise that did not resolve the extent of a researcher's right to quote excerpts of copyrighted works. But a federal judge in San Jose ruled in May that Shloss was the prevailing party and awarded her $329,000 in legal fees and costs. The estate dropped its appeal last week and agreed to a $240,000 settlement.