Publishing Raymond Carver's 'Original' Stories as 'Fair Use'

41 Pages Posted: 28 May 2010 Last revised: 29 Jul 2010

Date Written: 2009


This is a paper on copyright law as it relates to the controversy of publishing Raymond Carver's stories in their unedited form.

The controversy arose when Raymond Carver's widow, Tess Gallagher, expressed her desire to publish these stories because Carver's editor, Gordon Lish, had dramatically changed their character and style. Indeed, she claimed that these unedited stories represented the "real" Caver, whom she wished to reveal to the world. However, Carver's estate no longer owns the copyrights to these stories.

The issue is particularly interesting because the "original" versions of the stories are considerably different from the published versions as edited by Lish. Thus, there is some ambiguity as to whether they are covered by the copyright of the published stories; in essence, they are the building blocks of the published versions, and thus it is unclear whether they would be considered derivative works.

These questions aside, this papers explores the role of an editor and various ways that editors receive recognition for their efforts. It then explores joint authorship under American law, and how the Carver situation would be different in a jurisdiction where moral rights are recognized. Finally, "fair use" is applied to to the particular facts to permit the revelation of Carver's unedited oeuvre.

Keywords: Copyright, Fair Use, Editor, Credit, Work for Hire Doctrine, Joint Authorship, Moral Rights, Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish

Suggested Citation

Weldon, Matthew J., Publishing Raymond Carver's 'Original' Stories as 'Fair Use' (2009). Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, Vol. 7, 2008-2009, Available at SSRN: or

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