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Simon & Schuster v. Members of the New York State Crime Victims Board

Crime For Profit

Should crime pay? Do criminals, convicted or not, have the right to profit from selling their true crime stories to publishers or film makers?

Proponents maintain if criminals are not paid they will not write, and the public is extremely interested in crime, criminals, and criminal justice. Publicity surrounding crime arouses such curiosity. If criminals did not write, the public would be denied their right to read or view authentic versions of crime experience.

Publishing and film-making industries generate huge profits by commonly focusing on crime themes in a large number of works, including books, movies, and television programs. Biding wars for criminals' stories occur. Perhaps marketing their story is the only asset the wrongdoer has left. The criminal or criminal's family could use the money for legal debts and living expenses. Conversely, if the profits could be seized, crime victim restitution programs could be funded.

Lastly, proponents argue Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience or the Autobiography of Malcolm X would never have been published, stifling the free exchange of ideas.

Opponents focus on the victim's loss being turned into profit for the wrongdoer. Payment for crime is unconscionable and offensive. Felons actually benefitting from vicious crimes could perhaps lead to more grisly crimes.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Simon Schuster v. Members of the New York State Crime Victims Board - Significance, Crime For Profit