Don’t quote me on that…

You might think Bill Bryson is a cuddly travel writer, but his lawyers have been giving my chum Mike Gerrard some grief over his Kindle book “Bill Bryson: The Accidental Travel Writer”. The book is actually the reprint of a very insightful interview with Bryson, originally published 19 years ago in a literary magazine, and the lawyers are now demanding the book be withdrawn from sale, stating that Bryson owns the copyright to his words as spoken to Mike on the day of the interview.

This of course is complete nonsense – no interviews would ever be published if this was really the case, and no court has ever established the existence of common law copyright protection for the spoken word! And besides, Bryson willingly agreed to be interviewed by Mike, a journalist, in the full knowledge his words were for public dissemination. Interestingly, The Independent on Sunday published a diary item (Notes from the small minded) about the situation in today’s paper, reporting that when they approached Bryson’s publishers for a comment, they did not respond.

Given that Mike’s interview with Bryson is very much from the viewpoint of a fan of his work, and also contains links to his books, you’d think he’d be pleased with the extra publicity from its renewed exposure. Certainly looking at the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” list on Mike’s page, the author benefiting the most is Bryson himself!

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