Transcript of Record: Mercedes DeAcosta (sic), Plaintiff-Appellee, Against Beth Brown, Hearst Magazines, Inc., Defendants-Appellants, and Samuel Curl, Inc., Defendant. Mercedes de Acosta.

Pioneering Latina Author Offers 90 Pages of Testimony About Her Writing

Transcript of Record: Mercedes DeAcosta (sic), Plaintiff-Appellee, Against Beth Brown, Hearst Magazines, Inc., Defendants-Appellants, and Samuel Curl, Inc., Defendant

Notes: The trial transcript of a little-known incident in de Acosta's career—her successful lawsuit against Cosmopolitan magazine for copyright infringement. In 1940, de Acosta wrote a screenplay called Angel in Service, about the life of the nurse Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross. Two years later, the writer Beth Brown published a similar short story in Cosmo about Clara Barton.

De Acosta sued because several of the fictional characters and scenes from her screenplay ended up in Brown's work. De Acosta won the case; Brown and her publisher appealed; this document compiling the trial transcript and various rulings was printed for use in the appellate courts. This case established important principles for determining copyright infringement and is discussed in a number of books on the subject (see e.g., Wittenberg, Protection of Literary Property and Federal Bar Association of New York, 7 Copyright Problems Analyzed).

This court case has received very little attention in the biographies of de Acosta and it is not known to me if a copy of her screenplay survives. In her testimony, she estimated she made perhaps 20 copies of the final draft (p. 125). If no copy survives, this transcript preserves de Acosta's description of the screenplay and of her writing process. The transcript of her testimony fills pages 36 to 130.

De Acosta (1893–1968) was just about the only Latinx writer regularly publishing in English in the early twentieth century. She was born in New York, the daughter of two Cuban immigrants. She grew up in aristocratic circles and attended private school in Switzerland. She wrote several volumes of poetry, a few plays, and a couple of novels. She also worked periodically as a screenwriter. She may be best-known today for being a very public lesbian and the lover of many famous actresses.

406 pages.

Edition + Condition: Small chip missing from the front cover, else very good in wrappers.

Publication: New York: Law Brief Press, [1944].

Item No: #35567

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