Thursday, October 3, 2013

Author Harper Lee is at Odds with Hometown Museum

Last week, I came across an article written about Harper Lee and The Monroe County Heritage Museum titled Author Harper Lee, hometown museum at odds by Phillip Rawls, Associated Press. In his article, Phillip Rawls writes the following:
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee is at odds with a museum in her Alabama hometown that celebrates her literary achievement over use of the words in the title of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Lee is seeking a trademark for the words when they are used on clothing. The Monroe County Heritage Museum in Monroeville is opposing the application, contending the sale of souvenirs with the words is vital to its continued operation.

Lee’s New York attorney, Robert Clarida, said the 87-year-old author, who lives in Monroeville, has never received a penny from the museum’s sale of T-shirts, caps and other souvenirs.

“They want to continue selling the merchandise without Ms. Lee getting any money,” he said Friday.

Museum Director Stephanie Rogers said Lee’s book drives tourism in the rural south Alabama county. She said the museum has always been supportive of Lee, and she has never said anything about the souvenirs when visiting the museum.

“I feel like all we do is honor her here,” she said.

I don't see why Harper Lee shouldn't Trademark the words from the title of her novel. Ms. Lee should be paid royalties on clothing items and other souvenirs that have 'To Kill A Mocking Bird' on them. 

I guess, I don't quite understand the problem The Monroe County Heritage Museum has with Ms. Lee's desire to Trademark the words 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and making royalties from the sale of souvenir products with the words from her novel's title on them. 

Yes, I realize The Monroe County Heritage Museum is a non-profit, but so what? If Ms. Lee does Trademark the words 'To Kill A Mockingbird', why couldn't The Monroe County Heritage Museum still carry souvenir products with 'To Kill A Mockingbird' on them and pay Ms. Lee royalties?? This sounds like it would be a win-win situation to me.... The Monroe County Heritage Museum and Ms. Lee would both make a profit. What are your thoughts?


  1. I totally agree with you! Seems like a silly argument ... especially when Harper Lee is one of the two claims to fame your little town has—and a huge draw for tourists. (Truman Capote is the other ... they were childhood friends and neighbors!)

    I actually visited Monroe a couple of years ago to attend the performance of the play "To Kill a Mockingbird" and tour the museum. Very cool evening!

    1. Yes, it does seem like a silly argument.

      Your visit to Monroe a couple of years ago does sound cool.