Winslow v. Presque Isle Historical Society et al. (D. Me. 21-cv-00259).

  • September 22, 2021

Dr. Dena Winslow, a Maine historian, accuses the Presque Isle Historical Society and its officer Kimberly Smith of infringing Winslow’s copyright in her book entitled They Lynched Jim Cullen, New England’s Only Lynching, which she published as a doctoral dissertation in 2000 and as a book in 2005.  Cullen was lynched in 1873 in Presque Isle (which is not an island, but instead is a town on the junction of the Preqsue Isle stream and the Aroostock River in the Northeast corner of Maine).  Winslow says that Smith took material from this book and presented it in various ways on behalf of the Presque Isle Historical Society, such as in podcasts and presentations that suggested that Smith was the one who had done the original research.  Winslow says that Smith contributed to a blog post on the Aroostock County Tourism website that took images from Winslow’s book without permission.  Finally, Winslow asserts that the Presque Isle Historical Society runs “Molly the Trolley” tours that present her copyrighted materials on the tour and in advertisements for the tour.  Winslow asserts copyright infringement against both Smith and the Presque Isle Historical Society, and separately brings counts asserting that, to the extent there are differences between Winslow’s book and the accused presentations, the presentations were derivative works that nonetheless infringe.  This theory would likely be more difficult to prove, given that the underlying material is historical and factual and could potentially have been derived from other sources. 

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