Saturday, December 6, 2014

estates of jack kerouac and neal cassady assert claims to "joan anderson" letter

it didn't take long - less than a week actually - since the discovery of the long considered lost "joan anderson" letter was found, before the estates of jack kerouac and neal cassady asserted claims to it.  the sfgate reported on thursday that representatives from the respective estates have made demands for a portion of the proceeds from the upcoming action of the letter.  in particular, if a settlement isn't reached, the Kerouac estate may seek to have the auction - currently scheduled for december 17 - put on hold.  the estate is actually asking for the return of the letter.

as a general rule, with respect to letters, courts have held that the actual document - the letter itself - is the property of the recipient.  the contents, on the other hand - the intellectual property rights to the material - remain the property of the sender.  whether the passage of time may effect that initial determination would ultimately be decided by the courts.

whether the contents of the letter can be published is a separate inquiry from the initial question of ownership.  the estate of neal cassady would generally have to consent to the publication of the letter.  whether the passage of time altered that result, once again would be a question for the courts.  a portion of the letter was originally published in cassady's book "the first third."

stay tuned for more news on the fate of the "joan anderson" letter!

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