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Garrison Keillor Files Suit, Alleges Copyright Infringement by NPR

March 05, 1988|STEVE WEINSTEIN

Writer Garrison Keillor, the self-proclaimed "shy person" and creator of the fictional radio town Lake Wobegon, is suing National Public Radio for selling cassette copies of a speech he made last year before the National Press Club in Washington.

Keillor's attorney, Samuel Heins, who filed the suit in Minneapolis, said NPR infringed on Keillor's copyright. The author is seeking unspecified damages and wants all copies of the unsold tapes destroyed. He also wants a list of people who have bought the NPR tapes.

A spokeswoman for NPR said that the network will fight the suit because it does not believe it infringed on Keillor's copyright. She said NPR regularly distributes speeches given before the National Press Club over its radio network and supplies listeners with copies upon request.

"The National Press Club has always viewed its luncheon speakers as part of an open forum and fair game for anyone," said NPR's Cate Cowan.

During the course of his Oct. 20 speech about his adventures following his departure from Minnesota last year, Cowan said Keillor invited those in the audience to turn on their tape recorders to preserve his musings. "You're welcome to use any of this if you want," Cowan read from the transcript of the speech.

Cowan said that no one receives any profit from NPR's sale of Press Club speeches. She said the $10.95 price for each tape covers only the cost of production.

Keillor's popular radio program, "A Prairie Home Companion," which he left last spring in order to move with his family to Denmark, was carried weekly by American Public Radio.

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