A French court has ruled against the heirs of author Victor Hugo in their battle with the publishers of a sequel to his classic novel Les Miserables.
The Les Miserables musical has been running for 21 years
The decision overturns a lower court's 2004 ruling that the Pion publishing company had breached the Hugo family's "moral rights" by releasing the work.
Francois Ceresa's book Cosette enraged the Hugo family by reviving the character of Inspector Javert.
The novel was dubbed "Les Mis II" when it was originally published in 2001.
Ceresa, an award-winning journalist and critic, has since written another sequel, titled Marius.
Pion was ordered to pay the Hugo family a symbolic one euro (66p) in 2004 by an appeals court that decreed "no sequel can ever be added to so great a work as Les Miserables".
But that ruling has been quashed by the Cour de Cassation, France's highest appeals court, which said the lower court had failed to establish what damage Ceresa's book had done to the original.
Pierre Hugo, the author's great-great-grandson, is said to be bitterly disappointed but has vowed to continue fighting a work he has dismissed as "a money maker".
Les Miserables has been filmed numerous times and is the basis for London's longest-running West End musical.
Set in early 19th Century France, it tells of escaped convict Valjean's attempts to redeem his criminal past against a backdrop of revolutionary unrest.