Salinger v Colting

Ownership & Art

Salinger v Colting

Legal Filings


In June 2009, J.D. Salinger went to court once again (through surrogates, naturally), this time attempting to prevent the publication of an unauthorized sequel to The Catcher in the Rye; but the case soon took on far-reaching implications concerning the First Amendment and the ownership of art and captibated many because it involved the character of Holden Caulfield..
At the center of Salinger's argument was his claim that he owned Holden Caulfield and that Holden — as a character of fiction as well as a portrayable concept — was inalienable from his legal copyright of The Catcher in the Rye. Any redepiction of Holden's character would indeed be a redefinition - not only of a literary character but perhaps too of a familiar connection with our own adolescence. For many then, the greatest fear was not that Holden Caulfield would be stolen from J.D. Salinger, but that Holden would be stolen from us.
So, who owns Holden Caulfield? Here are two contemporary - and heated - arguments. The first, by Susan Weissman of the Huffington Post, takes a personal view of Holden's character and is expounded upon by author Jack Englehard, whose reverence for Salinger is plain.
Both reflections were in possible reaction to reports like that of Australian journalist Brigid Delaney, whose article (three pages) takes an opposite point of view. Decide for yourself. Below are links to many of the most vital legal documents surrounding the trials — both in District and Appellate Courts. The Appeals decision delivered in April, 2010, handed the case back to District Court for reconsideration, therefore avoiding many of the questions posed.
The case, once seemingly destined for the Supreme Court, came to a quiet end on December 14, 2010 when Fredrik Colting and the Salinger estate arrived at a "confidential settlement agrreement". As a result, the author and backers of 60 Years Later agreed to a permanent injunction of their book in the United States, while at the same time forfeiting any recourse of appeal. A copy of the final settlement is provided in the table below. It contains no disclosure of the quid pro quo involved.


June 1, 2009
July 15, 2009
July 2, 2009
Salinger Complaint
Salinger Corporate Disclosure
Order to Show Cause
Trial Date Ordered
Salinger Motion for Injunction
  Declaration of Fredrik Colting
Declaration of Edward Rosenthal
Defendant Memorandum
Defendent Appendix
  Colting Appeal to Appellate Court
July 23, 2009
    Formal Appeal to Appellate Court
August 7 , 2009
June 19, 2009
  Amicus Brief (Media Corporations)
June 2, 2009
  Order of Temporary Injunction
Marcia Paul: In Limine Motion
August 13, 2009
Salinger Petition to Court
Affadavi of tPhyllis Westberg
Affadavit of Marcia Paul
    Salinger Appeal Brief
June 22, 2009
April 30, 2010
  Colting Memorandum Brief   Appeals Court Decision
    July 1, 2009   April 30, 2010
    Decision of District Court   Final Settlement/Permanent Injunction