Plundered Prose & Optioned Rights

Nikki Bazar interviews novelist Jonathan Lethem for LA City Beat. In the intro Bazar says Lethem believes “stringent copyright laws . . . (are) suffocating for creative vitality.” Moreover he puts his art behind his words. Bazar writes:

Lethem initiated a project through his website called Promiscuous Materials that offers up his stories and lyrics at no cost for other artists to use and rework. He also recently announced that he will option the film rights to (his new novel) You Don’t Love Me Yet to a filmmaker of his choice in exchange for just 2 percent of the budget. By doing so, Lethem claims, he hopes to spark a re-examination of the typical ways in which art is commodified.

I first read about Lethem in a Poets & Writers (May/June 07) article titled “Creative Copywriting.” The article said Lethem will announce a winner to the film option idea on May 15. Visit Lethem’s web site to read about the movie deal.


Lethem argues for a kindler, gentler copyright in an essay in Harpers titled “The ecstasy of influence.” Artists, he says, have always imitated each other’s works, been influenced by one another overtly and subliminally. “Literature “has been in a plundered, fragmentary state for a long time,” he writes. And now we’ll see if that thought will be coming to a theater near you soon.


Journalism that Matters: That’s the name of a conference scheduled for August 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. (conference details here). It is the second such gathering of new media innovators and educators. Scan the post-conference wrapup of a similiar event held in Memphis in January 2006. The conference is being organized through the Media Giraffe project. Spend a minute to find out more about the project and make sure to visit its excellent web site.