Copyright row threat to 'Ulysses' centenary

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The Independent Culture

One of the biggest events in the literary calendar - the centenary celebration of Bloomsday, 16 June, the day on which the events of James Joyce's Ulysses take place - has been seriously marred by a bitter struggle over copyright.

One of the biggest events in the literary calendar - the centenary celebration of Bloomsday, 16 June, the day on which the events of James Joyce's Ulysses take place - has been seriously marred by a bitter struggle over copyright.

Stephen Joyce, the grandson and last surviving relative of the writer, has caused consternation by declaring that any public reading of what is regarded as the most influential novel of the 20th century will be a breach of copyright and cannot go ahead without permission and payment. Readings in both London and Dublin to launch the first ever unabridged audio CD of the book - the 22 discs last 27 hours - have been cancelled because of fears of litigation.

Much of the difficulty stems from a change in copyright law in 1996 which extended the period of copyright from 50 years to 70 years after an author's death. This meant Joyce, who died in 1941, was out of copyright for five years - allowing readings - before becoming copyrighted again.

Hundreds of events are planned in Dublin - where the novel is set - and every one has had to either apply for permission or think of a way of going ahead without reading aloud from Joyce's work.

Helen Monaghan, the director of the James Joyce Centre in Dublin, said: "Copyright is a huge issue and everybody is extremely conscious of it."

Stephen Joyce, who lives in France, was unavailable for comment.

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