Authors Guild to Courts: Don’t Judge Laura Albert So Harshly

By Neal Comment

Last summer, the New York Post reported that the Authors Guild had helped Laura Albert find attorneys to handle the appeal of the fraud and breach of contract judgment against her after she was sued by Antidote Films, the production company that had bought the rights to Sarah, one of several literary works Albert published under the pseudonym “JT LeRoy” (the crimes then being determined to be that she led the world, and Antidote Films, to believe that LeRoy was an actual person). Now GalleyCat has obtained an amicus curiae brief filed by the Guild on Albert’s behalf, stating that “the decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York with regard to Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, was not only inconsistent with the evidence presented at trial, but also will have negative repercussions extending into the future for many authors… The district court’s decision which holds that Laura Albert’s use of pseudonym breached the Option and Purchase Agreement, is one that will have a chilling effect upon authors wishing to exercise their right to write anonymously.”

According to the argument outlined in the Guild’s brief, “Antidote… received all the necessary rights it sought in order to prepare a motion picture version of Sarah” even though Albert signed her contract with the company as JT LeRoy; the lawsuit is furthered described as a “far-fetched action” aimed at obtaining “the life story rights of the author,” presumably because those would make for a commercially viable motion picture.

“The purpose of the ‘sole author’ clause is not to assure the purchaser that the listed name of the author is or is not a pseudonym or pen name,” the brief explains. “Rather the purpose is to assure the purchaser that it has acquired all the necessary rights to be able to make the film, and no third party can come forward to claim any rights in the property.”