Below are links to some of the news stories and book reviews related to law and the arts that caught my attention this week.
Plans to release a trove of unpublished writings by Malcolm X, including journals he kept during 1964 trips to Africa and the Middle East, have been thwarted by a longstanding feud over the estate of his widow, Betty Shabazz, between their six daughters. (NYT)
A recent English translation of “a Russian reworking of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings” is proving popular with fans, but Tolkien’s estate is not pleased, deeming it copyright infringement. Publisher David Brawn elaborates: “Online there are lots of infringements which it is extremely difficult to do anything about,” he said. “When you get something as popular as Tolkien, fans want to create new stories. Most are pretty amateurish. Tolkien himself isn’t around so it’s the estate’s view that it’s best to say no to everything. If you let one in, you’d open the floodgates.” (Guardian)
Emma Thompson is seeking a declaration from a New York federal court that her latest film script does not infringe the copyright of a play by Gregory Murphy. Both film and play focus on “a love triangle featuring the 19th century poet and critic John Ruskin.” (Guardian)
Lawyers for Amanda Knox are suing to prevent the airing of a television movie about the murder for which she has been convicted in Italy, arguing that it “could prejudice perception of the case just as the appeal process gets underway.” The victim’s family also wishes to stop the film, fearing that it will make their struggle to put the tragedy behind them more difficult. (Hollywood Reporter, Media Law Prof Blog)
New Orleans “Mardi Gras Indians work to copyright costumes” in a bid “to get a slice of the profits when photos of the towering outfits they have spent the year crafting end up in books and on posters and T-shirts.” (NPR, Clancco)
“A bill introduced [this week] in the Iowa House calls on the University of Iowa to sell its famous Jackson Pollock Mural painting, valued at $140 million, to set up a trust fund for student scholarships.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette, The Art Law Blog)
In a profile of Barry Gifford, best known as the founder of Black Lizard Press and an author of noir thrillers, Allen Barra stresses the originality and versatility of his recent work. (Salon)
Carlo Wolff makes Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X sound irresistible to this aficionado of international crime fiction. He lists “murder, philosophy, forensics, and a culture of repression” among its ingredients, and pronounces it a compelling noir novel “that ratchets up tension to the end, providing excitement and insight into the psychology of modern Japan along the way.” (Boston Globe)
Jennet Conant describes Douglas Waller’s Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS & Modern American Espionage as “an entertaining history” and notes: “Waller is more concerned with the politics of personality, and the legacy of Donovan’s complex, larger-than-life character. As he amply shows, Donovan was a combination of bold innovator and imprudent rule bender, which made him not only a remarkable wartime leader but also an extraordinary figure in American history.” (NYT)
Fancy tracking the Socratic method back to its source? Steve Donoghue trumpets Bettany Hughes’ The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life as “a beguiling book” and “history, and historical reconstruction, exactly as it should be written.” He concludes: “The Socrates Hughes creates is ultimately a towering yet intensely human figure. He lives and speaks again in these pages: It’s a singular accomplishment.” (Washington Post)
* The image above is a reproduction of Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943, oil on canvas, 8′ 1 1/4″ x 19′ 10″), owned by the University of Iowa Museum of Art.