TO KILL A MUSEUM

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Monroeville, Alabama is like any other small Alabama town except for one thing.

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The Monroe County Old Courthouse Museum.  It’s built around a refurbished version of the courtroom where Atticus Finch mesmerized a nation.

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There are exhibits on Harper Lee and her famous friend, Truman Capote, also from Monroeville. The museum reels in tourists who spend money in the gift shop, hotels and restaurants. Especially the museum gift shop,The Bird’s Nest, where Mockingbird merchandise flies out the door.

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Townspeople in the Courthouse Cafe and Radley’s Fountain Grille are scratching their heads these days over a lawsuit filed by Harper Lee.

Ms. Lee contends that the museum is stealing and profiting from her ideas.  The complaint filed states that “historical facts belong to the world, but fiction and trademarks are protected by law.”

I’m not a lawyer but I do know that literary lawsuits usually allege violations of copyright, meaning the text itself.  Ms. Lee’s suit says that the museum is infringing on her trademarks.  One of her demands is that the museum not market any products based on her book, like Calpurnia’s Cookbook and an assortment of trinkets.

The museum is fighting to stay open for now but if Lee wins the lawsuit, it could be forced to close its doors.

Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House in Washington, D.C.

I googled Harper Lee.  (photo 2007) She suffered a stroke and is in ill health, living in Monroeville in an assisted-living facility.  And she is not backing down.

Harper Lee is writing a new story about injustice in the South.  It’s about T-shirts and tote bags.  Or is it?  Is it a squabble over a few thousand dollars in our litigious culture?  Or is the museum raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars on unlicensed packages of Mockingbird Lemonade Mix?

That’s for the court to decide.  Until then, what do you think?  Should Harper Lee should just kick back in her twilight years and enjoy the kudos she earned?  Or are you thinking, more power to you, Harper Lee, protect your trademark text? Or is it just another author behaving badly?

 

LEE LOVED AND STILL LOVES MONROEVILLE, HER HOME FOR HER ENTIRE LIFE. IT SEEMS ODD TO ME, EVEN SUSPICIOUS, THAT, IN HER LATE 80S, SHE SUDDENLY THINKS IT’S TIME FOR THE COUNTY MUSEUM TO PAY UP OR CLOSE UP.
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Where’s Atticus when you need him?

Remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.  And a museum.

Toni 11/18/13

Day 18

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NaBloPoMo: I Watch the White Ibis Being Followed By a Variety of Other Types of Wading Birds and I Think of World Turmoil, Congress, and the Beetles. (A 420 Character Poem in 9 Lines by Patty)

English: American White Ibis in Florida, USA.
English: American White Ibis in Florida, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Watch the White Ibis Being Followed By a Variety of Other Types of Wading Birds and I Think of World Turmoil, Congress, and the Beetles. (A 420 Character Poem in 9 Lines by Patty)

Wader Diversity
Wader Diversity (Photo credit: K Schneider)

Getting by with a little help from my friends

is what I think the world needs,

sorry, Beatles, I don’t mean drug-help,

but something like what the White Ibis does

when it wades through the shallows of a marsh or lake edge,

probing with its long decurved red bill,

while other wading birds, such as egrets,follow and catch prey

stirred up by this red-faced, black wing tipped white beauty.

A little help s’all we need.

PATTY

English: The sociable American White Ibis in a...
English: The sociable American White Ibis in a tree on the Saint Johns River. Taken by User:Mwanner, 9 January, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)