Estate of James Joyce wins copyright case

13 May 2005

Bird & Bird helps protect works of world famous author

International law firm Bird & Bird has been representing the Estate of James Joyce in a copyright infringement case against Bath based publisher, Robert Fredericks Ltd, over their publication of a box set called “The Works of James Joyce in ten volumes”. An injunction prohibiting further publication of copies of this was granted yesterday. Robert Fredericks is also paying £10,000 in damages to the Estate, equivalent to a royalty of 25% for each copy sold, and the Estate’s legal costs.

The case came to court because Robert Fredericks failed to investigate the copyright issues before printing and selling its edition. The Estate of James Joyce, which owns copyright in the works of the world famous author, attempted to negotiate a settlement but in the end took legal action. As well as infringing copyright, the green leather bound 10 volume box set was misleadingly named, in that “The Works of James Joyce” did not actually incorporate the author’s complete works. The texts included numerous errors, and Joyce’s poetry and critical writings were omitted altogether. Further, one of the books in the box set, called “Great Short Stories” is in fact merely a re-ordered collection of the stories in Joyce’s Dubliners, which also appeared in the box set.

Following an application for summary judgment led by lawyers at Bird & Bird, Robert Fredericks conceded the claim. Commenting on the case, partner and solicitor-advocate Lorna Brazell said:

“This case demonstrates that publishers need to be very astute when it comes to copyright matters, which can be more complex than publishers believe. The Estate works very hard to preserve the integrity, the spirit and the letter of what Joyce wrote, and in this instance the only way to achieve that was to sue”.

Bird & Bird has been helping the Estate of James Joyce protect the works of the author for several years including a landmark copyright infringement win against Macmillan publishers in November 2001.

For more information on this please contact Lorna Brazell on +44 20 7415 6000. For more information on Bird & Bird please contact Larry Cattle on + 44 (0) 20 7415 6156.