Peter S. Beagle, now 78, sued his former manager Connor Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, dissolution of two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, and other injunctive relief. Cochran’s cross-complaint was dismissed by the Superior Court of Alameda County on November 7. Beagle’s suit is scheduled for trial in January. Within the past month both litigants have made statements about the authorship of some of Beagle’s published work in recent years.
From the Support Peter S. Beagle blog on October 26: “AN Important Message from Peter S. Beagle”.
As many people are aware, Peter Beagle, beloved author of “The Last Unicorn”, “A Fine And Private Place”, and “Summerlong”, is suing his former manager and business partner, Connor Cochran. Now Cochran is publicly claiming co-authorship of most, if not all, of Peter’s titles, from the point at which Peter and Cochran first worked together.
Here is Peter’s statement, in his own words, slapping down Cochran’s claims. As usual, Peter says it better than anyone else could. Please read and share.
I am 78 years old. I have been publishing professionally for almost sixty years. Telling stories, in one way or another, one medium or another, is what I do, and all I ever wanted to do. From the beginning, starting with my first book, A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE, I have worked with various publishers and editors, most of them helpful, and a few truly excellent. Connor Cochran, at his best, was for many years one of this latter group. I have said this many times in public, particularly commending his sense of structure; he even suggested titles for several of my stories. I have been grateful over our long acquaintance for such things.
But he did not write my stories, as he is now claiming publicly. They are my work, and no one else’s – as are all my other books, all the way back to that first one, published in 1960, when I was twenty-one. They are my legacy.
To quote a remembered line from the classic movie All About Eve, “It is about time that the piano realized that it has not written the symphony.”
And to quote partially from the words of my lawyer, Kathleen Hunt, addressed to Connor Cochran’s former lawyer, Richard Mooney:
“Your claims are plainly false and inconsistent with the letter and application of U.S. copyright law. The statements may also constitute libel or other injurious action towards Beagle…. You surely knew that there is no evidence of a joint authorship relationship between Cochran and Beagle, that there was no objective manifestation to create a work of joint authorship, that the parties’ conduct at the time the works were created suggests a clear intent not to create a work of joint authorship, and that the statute of limitations had long expired. Under these circumstances, there can be little doubt that the sole purpose of your Correspondence was to fraudulently obtain authorship credit in the 27 Works in order to acquire leverage over my client in pending litigation.”
For fifteen years, over the counsel of true and knowledgeable friends, I trusted Connor Cochran implicitly with all that I believed to be of any real value: my work, and the future of my legacy. I was certain beyond any question that he was a man of honor and creativity. I will forever regret that I was wrong.
Peter S. Beagle
Connor Cochran made this public Facebook statement on November 17:
Earlier this year I wrote a letter to certain editors, and shared with my Facebook friends, the fact that some of the “Peter S. Beagle” works published in the last 15 years were actually written by me and Peter in collaboration. The decision to finally share the truth was driven in part because I wanted to set a proper example for my daughter Brigid’s future, and in part because after two years I have gotten pretty sick of being lied about by Peter and the people who are controlling his life.
When word of what I had done got to Peter and his enablers, they did not take it well. On October 25th Peter released a public statement completely denying that we had ever collaborated, and further impugning my integrity and motives.
I was going to ignore it, but two days ago the LOCUS newszine got in touch to tell me they were going to run Peter’s statement. The editor wanted to know if I had any comment about it, or about the current status of the lawsuit.
And you know…once again I found that I was really tired of Peter making public statements that just aren’t true.
So after discussions with my attorney I wrote up a response and sent it to LOCUS. I am posting it here as well. In fairness to Peter I have put his own statement first in the attached image, so everyone can understand the context.
The surrogate who originally posted Peter’s statement asked folks to share it around as they saw fit. I invite anyone reading this to do the same.
11/17/17 — CONNOR COCHRAN’S RESPONSE (AT THE REQUEST OF LOCUS MAGAZINE) TO PETER S. BEAGLE’S 10/25/17 PUBLIC STATEMENT
Just like the allegations in his lawsuit, Peter’s most recent public statement is not true. The only question is whether it is knowingly false, or another example of the memory problems Peter displayed that forced suspension of THE LAST UNICORN Screening Tour in 2015.
First, I have never claimed that I “wrote his stories,” as he asserts. What I *have* recently shared — with the editors who bought the pieces in question, with my friends on Facebook, and now with LOCUS readers — is the fact that between 2002 and 2015 I CO-wrote nine published “Peter S. Beagle” stories, plus one novel manuscript and several screen treatments; as well as making substantial creative contributions to another seventeen works of fiction published under Peter’s byline and several of the poems and song lyrics in our yearlong 52-50 PROJECT. On everything else we did together (which is at least another 70-100 items, if not more) I was indeed just his editor, albeit a highly demanding one.
I was never public about co-writing at the time because Peter and I both thought that keeping my contribution to certain stories under wraps was the best thing for the Beagle literary “brand.” But that does not mean my co-authorship was a strict secret – it was well-known to some of our mutual friends. And, of course, anyone who reviews our working drafts and emails will see the cited stories are collaborations. (For just one example, comparing all the drafts of the 1,888-word story “The Fable of the Octopus,” from Peter’s 2006 collection THE LINE BETWEEN, shows that he wrote only 62% of the final text. I wrote the other 38% of it, including the ending, the denouement, and the moral. More importantly, Peter did not alter a single word of my contribution, responding to my writing only with a short email that began “I think it works fine this way, Connor — thank you again!”)
As for the status of the lawsuit: the court recently dismissed my counter-suit when it proved physically impossible to process hundreds of thousands of pages of documents to determine which related to the broad discovery requests, let alone which might be private or privileged, in the allotted timeframe. That certainly doesn’t make me happy, but so it goes. I have nonetheless handed over to Peter and his attorney more than 50,000 pages of documents refuting the allegations in his lawsuit, with another 100,000 pages of documents currently being prepped to turn over. In contrast, Peter has never provided ANY documentation that supports the wild allegations in his complaint, or refutes my counter-suit. Further, Peter has twice filed for “injunctions” in this same matter, only to have them flatly rejected with stern lectures from the judge because his filings contained no evidence.
The last two years have been a nightmare for me and my family. But come trial in January I am confident the jury will see who is telling the truth. And so, eventually, will everyone else.