Almost Forgot -- I Hope You Had a Happy Bastille Day!

My favorite book on the topic has always been Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities.

While getting the link I noticed that Project Gutenberg has a warning up,which I'll reproduce here: 

Beware of the TPP!

Project Gutenberg is concerned about a new secret international treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This will extend copyright term protection worldwide, thus halting the growth of the public domain. To learn more, and join Project Gutenberg in speaking out against this treaty, visit The Internet Archive.

I don't know about you, Jacques, but I'm getting tired of a certain privileged class of folk trying to run our lives.


Grim said...

I'm about done with them too.

Texan99 said...

The work I do is not directly for the Project Gutenberg site but for a feeder site called (Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders). Word of this concern hasn't trickled down to us peons! We usually just assume we can't work on anything less than about 100 years old.

I understand the concern about the public domain, but there are good reasons for copyright protection.

Tom said...

I'm all for copyright protection, up to a certain point. I can't remember the specifics, but we used to have something like 28 years after publication, renewable for another 28 years. If you didn't renew, then it went public domain after 28. No matter what, after 56 years it went public domain. I believe that struck the correct balance of encouraging and rewarding artists who made something while not overly restricting the creativity of new artists and social commentators.

Of course, the Founders had nothing; there was no copyright law in their day. The right to life, liberty, and property did not include what we call intellectual property. I do think we need some kind of copyright laws to encourage creativity and creation, but what we have now is excessive; I certainly don't want to see it expanded.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you are correct. The current US "life of the creator plus 70 years" (aka the Micky Mouse clause) was put into place in 1976 in order to (more or less) keep Disney films from lapsing into Public Domain. There are exceptions, and any work copyrighted before 1926 is considered public domain (thus the Sherlock Holmes case this spring).

I like the 28 plus 28 rule. It gives me time to make a decent income, then lets works "run free." But that's not the case at the moment. Don't get me started on publishers, copyright, and backlists . . .


Eric Blair said...

Yeah, well there isn't anything being written today that's worth reading, really.

jaed said...

there was no copyright law in their day

Sure there was. Copyright law is in the Constitution: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries".

(Of course, note the justification: the constitutional purpose of copyright and patent law is to enrich (eventually) the public domain, by encouraging publication of writings and discoveries. There's nothing in there about "in order to support the great-grandchildren of authors" or "to make sure publishing companies may be profitable" or "that the Mouse may remain sacrosanct for all ages, in saeculum saeculorum, amen". As far as I'm concerned, copyright law that fails to enrich the public domain is unconstitutional.)

Tom said...

jaed - D'oh! Thanks for the correction.

According to Wikipedia, the initial copyright term was 14 years and it had to be applied for. A 14-year extension could also be applied for, for a total of 28 years. It has been pretty regularly lengthened since then.