January 22, 2007

Ownership of One’s Writings [8:30 am]

And the circumstances under which one might lose them: Unabomber Wages Legal Battle to Halt the Sale of Papers

Mr. Kaczynski, 64, is in a legal battle with the federal government and a group of his victims over the future of the handwritten papers, which include journals, diaries and drafts of his anti-technology manifesto.

The journals contain blunt assessments of 16 mail bombings from 1978 to 1995 that killed 3 people and injured 28, as well as his musings on the suffering of victims and their families. The government wants to auction sanitized versions of the materials on the Internet to raise money for four of Mr. Kaczynski’s victims.

But, citing the First Amendment, Mr. Kaczynski has argued in court filings that the government is not entitled to his writings and has no right to alter them. The writings were among the items taken from his remote Montana cabin after his arrest in April 1996. In a motion drafted in pen, he said he planned to argue that the government had too much discretion under a federal restitution law to confiscate writings.

Slate’s Explainer column adds a few more wrinkles: Who Owns the Unabomber’s Writings?

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