Fifty years after Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are was first published, a London-based author and illustrator hoped to issue a sequel to commemorate Sendak’s death this year. They took to Kickstarter in the hopes of raising £25,000 to print their book, Back to the Wild (that’s a Google Cache link of the original Kickstarter page).
Sendak’s publisher, HarperCollins, thought otherwise: The project has been pulled from Kickstarter after HarperCollins issued a DMCA takedown notice. Sequels have long been a subject of copyright disputes, but this incident suggests that book publishers are being more vigilant about monitoring new platforms for violations. (Earlier this year, Random House got a fan zine for the anime title “Sailor Moon” pulled from Kickstarter.)
Kickstarter’s copyright and DMCA policy is here. The company’s practice is to remove any project that’s the subject of a takedown notice, and the project’s creator can then file a counter-response. The problem is fairly common: The high-profile Android-based GameStick was briefly removed from Kickstarter earlier this year because, according to Techdirt, “one of the video games that the company shows working in the video was not ‘cleared’ for use by its creators, and they sent the takedown. Playjam edited the video in the question and Kickstarter quickly put the video back up.
It appears unlikely that Back to the Wild would have been successfully funded anyway: At least as of June 23, it had only raised £694 (USD $1,039) of its £25,000 goal. Geof Todd, the author of the sequel, said, “We are of course very disappointed, especially as we submitted Back to the Wild to Kickstarter from within the U.K., where we had taken specific legal advice and confirmed that we are not infringing copyright…we hope we can find an acceptable way forward.”
Incidentally, Sendak had said he never wanted to publish a sequel to Wild Things: In an interview that the Back to the Wild creators linked to from their original project page, “People said, ‘Why didn’t you do Wild Things 2? Wild Things 1 was such a success.’ Go to hell. Go to hell. I’m not a whore. I don’t do those things.”