New Blog, law.arts.culture, Debuted by Osgoode Professor, Kate Sutherland

Pauline Wong is the Assistant Director of IP Osgoode.

A new member to the blogosphere, law.arts.culture, has been launched by Professor Kate Sutherland, a writer and Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School

The blog is self-described as “devoted to exploration of the intersection of law and the arts—literature, music, theatre, film, visual art and more.” Professor Sutherland has begun the blog as a solo blogger, but future contributors will include guest bloggers and Osgoode Hall Law School professors, students and alumni.

Her second post is a fantastic sample from the blog.  With wonderful insight and a light sense of humour, Professor Sutherland blogged about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and his 1844 copyright infringement trial against Richard Egan Lee and John Haddock complaining about their knock-off entitled, A Christmas Ghost Story.

Professor Sutherland’s research unearthed fascinating details and dialogue that only Hollywood – or writers from the 19th century – could dream up.  Lee and Haddock’s defence to the injunction was that that, as Professor Sutherland puts it, “A Christmas Ghost Story was not simply a copy of A Christmas Carol, but a considerable improvement upon it, and hence an original work”!  On the return of the interim injunction motion, Dickens prevailed and in celebration exclaimed, “The pirates are beaten flat. They are bruised, bloody, battered, smashed, squelched, and utterly undone.”  However, in the end, Lee and Haddock declared bankruptcy, thereby never paying legal costs owed to Dickens.

The next time he was confronted with piracy, Dickens assessed the situation and, with the benefit of his experience from the Christmas Carol case, surrendered, “[I]t is better to suffer a great wrong than to have recourse to the much greater wrong of the law.”

Already, Professor Sutherland’s blog has been well-received.  Fellow writer and blogger, Helen Gunnarsson (see her blog, Law and Conversation), commented, “Can’t wait to see the direction of this new blog, Kate!  I’m honored to be included on your blogroll.”

* The illustration is taken from The Court of Chancery, by Augustus Charles Pugin & Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermann’s Microcosm of London (1808-11). The full illustration can be seen on law.arts.culture.

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