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Posts Tagged ‘Pierre Hugo’

“Les Mis II” Gets a Court Reprieve

After reporting earlier this week that a sequel to Victor Hugo‘s LES MISERABLES was up for banning by the French courts thanks to a lawsuit by the author’s great-great grandson, the Guardian reports that Pierre Hugo was “bitterly disappointed” after his six-year battle was ended when France’s highest appeal court ruled against him. But he vowed to continue fighting to protect what he described as his family’s “moral rights” to the classic work.

“I believed we were fighting the good cause but the court decided otherwise. It is very, very disappointing,” Hugo was quoted as saying. “I am not just fighting for myself, my family and for Victor Hugo but for the descendants of all writers, painters and composers who should be protected from people who want to use a famous name and work just for money.” Hugo, 59, a goldsmith, has been fighting to have banned COSETTE OU LE TEMPS DE ILLUSIONS (Cosette or the Time of Illusions), written by journalist Francois Ceresa. He had demanded 450,000 pounds in damages, claiming the publishers had betrayed the spirit of his ancestor’s work to make money.

The court decision met with a sigh of relief from authors, playwrights and musical producers who had feared an end to adaptations of classical works. The case set French copyright laws, which put a literary work in the public domain 70 years after the author’s death, against the concept of an author’s “moral rights”. The latter are considered timeless and passed on to descendants.

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The Prospective Banning of Les Miserables II

In France, a huge fight is brewing as the highest appeal courts are set to decide today whether a contemporary sequel to Victor Hugo’s LES MISERABLES should be banned – and if so, what this might mean to future attempts to “sequelize” classics or other works of note. The result would be a culmination of a more-than-five year battle between Hugo’s great-great-grandson, Pierre Hugo, and Francois Ceresa, whose two-tome sequel COSETTE OU LE TEMPS DE ILLUSIONS (Cosette or the Time of Illusions). “I hope to set a legal precedent for all descendants of celebrities, be they writers, artists or musicians, to protect the spirit of their forebears,” Hugo, 59, a writer and goldsmith, told The Daily Telegraph.

Intellectual property rights lawyers said the ruling could set a precedent in cases pitting literary works considered to be in the public domain 70 years after their author’s death against an author’s “moral rights” — which are by law timeless and guarded by his descendants. And lawyers for Ceresa argued that to ban his novel would violate freedom of expression and deter artists from turning to great works for inspiration. Literary lawyers worry that they will be swamped with real or fake descendents of celebrated authors seeking compensation.

If he loses, Hugo pledges to keep battling. If he wins, the book will be pulled from stores and the editor ordered to pay legal fees. But what was Hugo’s take on the LES MISERABLES musical? Evidently, his great-great grandfather would have enjoyed it “quite thoroughly.”