“Les Mis II” Gets a Court Reprieve

By Carmen Comment

After reporting earlier this week that a sequel to Victor Hugo‘s LES MISERABLES was up for banning by the French courts thanks to a lawsuit by the author’s great-great grandson, the Guardian reports that Pierre Hugo was “bitterly disappointed” after his six-year battle was ended when France’s highest appeal court ruled against him. But he vowed to continue fighting to protect what he described as his family’s “moral rights” to the classic work.

“I believed we were fighting the good cause but the court decided otherwise. It is very, very disappointing,” Hugo was quoted as saying. “I am not just fighting for myself, my family and for Victor Hugo but for the descendants of all writers, painters and composers who should be protected from people who want to use a famous name and work just for money.” Hugo, 59, a goldsmith, has been fighting to have banned COSETTE OU LE TEMPS DE ILLUSIONS (Cosette or the Time of Illusions), written by journalist Francois Ceresa. He had demanded 450,000 pounds in damages, claiming the publishers had betrayed the spirit of his ancestor’s work to make money.

The court decision met with a sigh of relief from authors, playwrights and musical producers who had feared an end to adaptations of classical works. The case set French copyright laws, which put a literary work in the public domain 70 years after the author’s death, against the concept of an author’s “moral rights”. The latter are considered timeless and passed on to descendants.