In 1965 a German named Helmut Hohl published a book describing his experiences as a teenager during World War II The book was published without copyright nodtice in Germany by a publisher named Volkspiel Verlag. An American reporter named Bin Binton, who was in the German bureau of the Trenton (N.J.) Times, translated the work. Exempts from the translation were published in the Trenton Times later that year, as part of a story Binton was writing on "New German Voices." Subsequently, and without seeking anyone's permission, Binton sold the rights to his translation as a whole to an American publisher named Politics Press, which published it In 1967. Kohl sued Politics Press In New York and lost on summary judgment, the court finding that his copyright had been forfeited through failure to use proper notice. While the case was on appeal, Kohl and Politics Press settled, Politics paying $500 for an exclusive English language translation license from Hohl in perpetuity. Three years later, the Binton translation went out of print. Binton died in 1986.
Hohl has since become a leading German politician, Last year an American named Knute Getrich released a film documentary about Hohl, in which Binton's translation of Hohl's book Is quoted at length in the soundtrack. The documentary has been shown on so- 'Public affairs" cable channels in various parts of the country. Getrich paid Binton's widow, Bertha, $700 for the right to use the excerpts from Binton's book.
Who is liable to whom, and for what? Are there any legal steps that anyone should take (leaving aside litigation) to protect his, her, or Its rights? Ignore any possible peculiarities of German law in answering this question.
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