Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 13:25:32 -0400 (EDT)
From: Luke Seemann <[email protected]>
To: "Harold Ober Associates, Inc." <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: J.D. Salinger

Mr. Byrne:

First of all, let me say it's an honor to hear from you. I can now say I'm but two degrees of separation from Mr. Salinger.

Secondly, I'll make it clear that I am not a lawyer. I do not want a lawyer and could not afford one even if I did. I am a college student working the summer on a volunteer internship. I eat Top Ramen several times a week and live with a relative to keep my costs low; despite this, I have refused several offers to commercialize my efforts on The Holden Server.

That said, I will articulate three points, each of which should be enough to convince you that continuing any effort to limit The Holden Server would be a colossally bad idea for the interests of Mr. Salinger.

1. It makes people happy
About 100 people a day access the quotes at the Holden Server (THS). Many people use it for their start-up screen on their browser simply so they can begin the day on a good note. Daily I get e-mail saying what a wonderful service I am providing, and how happy reading some of Catcher makes them. It's moved certain people to tears. I would be happy to produce some of this testimony if you so desire.

People do not visit THS to eschew the purchase of the book. They visit for pleasure. They visit for an introduction, *then* go purchase a book they might not have thought they would purchase. They visit for a brief, nostalgic glimpse at a book that changed their life.

Removing this service would make thousands of people, well, sad, myself included, and I'm not sure that is what Mr. Salinger wants. Granted, making thousands of reprints of Catcher and handing them out free at a Mets game would make lots of people happy, too, but I'm sure you can appreciate the subtle difference.

2. Fair use
Because of the context in which the excerts are produced, it is clear there is no violation of copyright.

  • Nature and character -- Its sole purpose is non-profit scholasticism
  • Relative amount -- The book is not published in its entirety; no more is taken than is necessary
  • Effect on the market -- As I assert above, the effect upon the current and potential market of Catcher and its derivative works can only be construed as promotional, if not negligible
Furthermore, it is my understanding that Mr. Salinger did not renew his copyright as is required of works published before 1964. However, I am not entirely certain about this and would require a trip to the library to confirm. Perhaps you can clarify.

3. It would be embarrassing to Mr. Salinger
Only the most aliterate dullard is not aware of and does not respect Mr. Salinger's desire for privacy.

However, these are interesting times on the Internet. Should THS be shut down, Mr. Salinger would achieve the ridiculed celebrity on the Internet thus far reserved for the likes of Scientologists and Cantor & Siegel of the Great Green Card Spam.

I do not say this as a threat, though my comfort and skill with this medium and others could prove to be a formidable ace up my sleeve. An ace I will not use out of respect for the single-most important author to my life.

I say this simply to state a fact. If I shut down THS, people will notice. Wired will call. Then the New Yorker. Then CNN. The next thing you know Usenet will explode with posts of "Why is JDS such a phony?" and a horde of paparazzi will find Mr. Salinger's apartment, armed with digital cameras. I am convinced this is not how he wants to be remembered.


Mr. Byrne, there are many people I look forward to doing intellectual battle with in this world, but the last person on my list is Mr. Salinger. Right now you and I are the only ones who know about your message. I would sincerely like to keep it this way.

Finally, I would consider making certain changes to please the interests of Mr. Salinger. Within limits. This could include a disclaimer disavowing any official representation or removing any objectionable content of my own creation. However, I am deeply concerned with preserving the spirit of THS. I hope after reading my arguments you -- and Mr. Salinger, for that matter -- will, too.

If I have not convinced you, please advise me of to which steps your agency will go and whether or not I should pursue professional counsel.

My best,


| Luke Seemann                               |
| Web serf @             0-----------------------------------0
| GM emeritus @             | The  capacity to  blunder is  the |
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                                        |             --Obi Wan Kenobi      |

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