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New Works from Dead Authors

Dead people can’t create new works, as the argument went during debates over the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

But we know that’s not true, and there are two recent examples of dead creativity.  One might even go so far as to argue that death inspired (incented?) the publication of new works.

Michael Jackson has a new song on the airwaves and in the bitstreams.  It was co-authored by Paul Anka, well over 20 years ago.  Who knew?  Paul did.  The Jackson estate didn’t.  But that’s all fixed now.

The sixth installment in the Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy has been released.  Confusingly, given that the cover of the book says “Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three,” the author isn’t Adams, who died in 2001, but Eoin Colfer, who is also responsible for the Artemis Fowl books, and this isn’t (or wasn’t) a trilogy at all, at least not until the appearance of this sixth book, which follows the fifth.  Since “Artemis Fowl” sounds like the name of a Hitchhiker’s character, Colfer was the logical choice to impersonate Adams.  Given the uncertain provenance of the new work, would it  be fair to suggest that it is “almost, but not quite, entirely unlike” the Hitchhiker’s Guide?

Perhaps not.