Have you all read J.D Salinger's 'The Catcher In The Rye' at least once? Good, then. If not, get thee to a bookstore and read it NOW. It's one of those books you have to read before you die, preferably twice. Once when you're a teenager, because the protaganist Holden Caulfield is also a teenager and he speaks beautifully on your behalf, then once as an adult to admire the artistry of the book and also to remember what it was like being a teenager.
The book has been well protected by its author. There was one lame attempt at a movie adaption way back in the late 40's and it was so horrible, Salinger prevented it from ever becoming a film ever again. Even without the weight of Hollywood behind the product, the book has still managed to sell approximately sixty-five million copies worldwide and to this day remains a best-seller, and if you read it, you'll know why. Kinda like 'Grapes of Wrath' and 'To Kill A Mockingbird', it's an American novel that is very readable by both literary elitists and the hoi-polloy, but what gives 'Catcher' an edge (in my mind) on those two is that it is not at all earnest or political - it's introspective and emotional, and has the ability to to prod and tickle your intellect* as opposed to feed it a three course meal.
The reclusive authour of this masterpiece, JD Salinger, is currently very old, very ill and very, very angry right now. See, some bloke has written a sequel to the book, with Holden Caulfield now an old man, and Salinger is quite rightly attempting, through the courts, to place an injunction on the novel.
My initial reaction is to take his side and say, "It's his character, nobody can touch him." But we're in an age of 'interpretations', whether they be re-imagining of Shakespeare's plays, Superhero re-tellings, or Alien vs Predator B-Movies, or fantasy porn or even cosplay. Characters are being appropriated left, right and centre in many guises. I have a book called 'Ahab's Wife' which is a novel about, you know, Ahab's wife, but the estate of Herman Melville aren't suing. George Lucas doesn't sue people who write online Star Wars fantasies or run around town in Darth Vader costumes - but maybe he would sue if they made a seventh movie without him. Disney and McDonalds are very protective of their brand and characters and have a history of suing people who use/abuse their image, and hell, even Tom Waits has sued companies for using music in ads that sound like him.
There's precedents on both sides of the argument. I'm sure the bloke who wrote the 'sequel' was paying homage to Salinger, but it's backfired badly, and I'm sure Salinger is sincere in his love for his character and his lifetime of protection. I doubt there can be a law to settle this, and it's why IP lawyers rake in the big bucks around the world. It's murky.
But as much as I feel sorry for Salinger, I tend to think the 'sequel' should be allowed to go ahead. We drop Greek Gods into our poems and stories. They made a film called 'The Queen' starring Helen Mirren which was a fictionalised story about a real, living Queen who didn't sue. 'Characters' are in the public domain whether they like it or not, whether they are copywrited or not, and maybe Salinger should just accept it, as much as I can fully understand how much this would hurt him.
Perhaps it should simply be settled like this: Wait until the bloke dies. Then it's open slather, and if you make a film or book using his characters, a percentage needs to go to his estate. We can have a hundred lame sequels of Catcher, but on the goodside, hopefully someone (when Lucas dies) will re-do Star Wars episodes 6, 1, 2 and 3 and make them actually entertaining (but please keep Portman in the jumpsuit.)
* Though Mark Chapman took it too far when he shot John Lennon, holding a copy of the book, and reading it straight after shooting him.