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Penguin Wins 'Parker' Lawsuit

Stuart Y. Silverstein isn't having any fun today.

After six years of legal wrangling, the editor of the compilation Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker lost his copyright infringement case against Penguin Group (USA), a division of Pearson (PSO).

Parker, a literary lion who wrote poems, stories and screenplays, is best known as a humorist and member of the 1920s literary group the Algonquin Round Table. During her lifetime she published three poetry compilations. Silverstein published the poems Parker "lost" or, as some academics say, chose to forget.

In a ruling that came down Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge John F. Keenan found Penguin not liable on all three causes of action alleged in the complaint -- copyright infringement, unfair competition and unfair and immoral trade practices under New York state law, and the misrepresentation of Silverstein's work as being done by Penguin.

"Penguin Group is, of course, delighted with the District Court's decision," said a company spokesman. "After six years of litigation, the court has unambiguously rejected every one of Mr. Silverstein's legal claims, and repudiated his attacks on Penguin's conduct and practices. It is a complete vindication for Penguin, and a great victory for all publishers."

Silverstein had accused Penguin of taking Not Much Fun, copying it "comma for comma" and publishing it as part of a compilation called Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems, without giving him any credit or money. In the course of the trial, it was revealed that the editor of the Penguin edition had literally copied the book on a photocopy machine. But this had little relevance to the final verdict.

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