Page 161 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 6                        143

                Did my photos travel from Drummer to Tough Customers in someone’s
             carry-on luggage? Or was it the accountant’s revenge in that underhanded
             gay way we dismantle each other? Whatever the twist in the case, it seemed
             forgotten that the “Tough Customers” concept, column, and title were my
             invention, and legally belonged to me because, as a freelance contributor, I
             owned the copyright to all my writing and photography in Drummer as did
             Larry Townsend and all the other contributors.
                Defense of copyright is a lifelong task that continues after death for
             the length of the copyright. On page 41, in The Advocate, July 16, 1975,
             the West Coast Larry Townsend began defending his copyright from East
             Coast publishers printing knock-offs of his writing. In 2008, he died while
             suing one specific publisher for reprinting his books—and fifty bookstores
             nationwide, named as co-defendants, for selling those counterfeits. As a
             widowed elder on a fixed income, he reacted to this alleged abuse of his
             business and his writing which was his identity. He panicked in his self-
             defense and created so much havoc among bookstores who had no way to
             tell an authorized book from a fake, that Deacon Maccubbin, founder of
             the Lambda Book store, the Lambda Book Report, and the Lambda Literary
             Awards, asked me in an exchange of emails beginning on June 19, 2008, to
             intervene and calm Townsend down. Maccubbin used the term “scorched-
             earth lawsuit.” On July 2, Townsend finally surrendered and told me, “If
             you’ll tell me which bookstores you have heard from specifically, I’ll make
             sure...[the attorney]...drops them.” Eleven days later, Larry fell into a coma
             July 13, and died July 29.
                My column “Tough Customers” was in the same copyright category
             as my other feature articles. The only “work for hire” that I did as a paid
             employee was as editor-in-chief, not as a writer and photographer, and even
             then, Embry fell far short of paying the editing fees owed. In the whole
             absurdist comedy as Drummer died, I kept my silence because none of the
             new people, innocent of the messy past, really seemed authorized to be
             in charge of anything. What ancient agreements I had with Embry and
             DeBlase were unknown, and of no concern, to the third owner and his staff,
             and that was the core to how “old” Drummer business was dismissed by the
             Dutch Drummer that distanced itself from everything Embry and DeBlase
             had done. My copyright claim to “Tough Customers” would have fallen on
             deaf ears that had no money to pay me royalties anyway. I chalked it up to
             experience, and let it go for the love of the game, and love of the Platonic
             Ideal of Drummer.
                Stamps, under stress and duress in the madhouse that was the Drummer
             office, accidentally also violated my copyright by requesting my previously

               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-14-2017
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