Book People Archive

Re: Would a kind soul response directly to h

> From: Gary Young <younggr@[redacted]>
> To: spok+bookpeople@[redacted]
> Subject: Re: Would a kind soul response directly to h
> Date: Tuesday, November 04, 1997 5:58 PM
> Problems with extending copyright:
> 1) The author probably does not benefit, because he/she 'sold' the rights
> long ago.  Solution:  Extend copyright if you want, but the rights should
> revert to the author or to his/her heirs.  They should not be granted to the 
> current copyright holder, who bought them many years ago.
> 2) Current authors are discouraged by the availability of a great amount of 
> old material which is re-published.  This is possible, I suppose, but I don't 
> really see it happening too much.  Rather the opposite - see (3) below.  
> Solution:  I can't think of one.  If the stuff is saleable by the current
> copyright holder, then if it enters the public domain, it will 
> still be saleable, and it will appear on even more bookshelves, as the 
> re-print houses grab it for free.
> 3) Old works are disappearing.  That is, Hemingway is being re-printed all 
> the time.  Thousands of other books which were printed in the early 1900's, 
> and were never reprinted, probably never will be.  When Disney succeeds in 
> extending the copyright on _Sleeping Beauty_ they also ensure that a book
> such as _insert a title here_   :-)   which had an initial print run of 5000 
> copies in 1930, and was never reprinted, also remains under copyright. This 
> is unfortunate, because there may only be 100 copies of that book in 
> existance today, and if we wait another 20 years, all 100 may have been lost 
> or destroyed.  Solution:  I think that any copyright law should include a
> "use it or lose it" clause.  Sure, grant copyright for 'life of the author + 
> 70 years' as an initial estimate.  However, if the book has been out of print 
> for 25 years, then copyright should expire.  Or, grant copyright for 'the
> life of the author', and allow it to be renewed indefinitely, as long as it 
> is reprinted and offered for public sale every 25 years.

You forget about the books that are crumbling on the shelves of libraries
because of the Sulfur Dioxide conversion.  This is a major problem with
libraries.  Last summer I was looking for a particular book.  I couldn't
find it in any library in my State.  Went interlibrary loans and found one
copy at the library of Congress.  Only one copy in the whole country.  
One of the best stories I ever hear about this is one when one of my
professors was working on a trash pile of papyrus sheets and came across
one that said the was the works of Meander.  He went through that pile of
papyrus with a fine tooth comb.  He didn't find anything but that single
piece. He said that it felt as though he was looking across the centuries
and saying, "Somewhere out there are the works of Meander."  Frends this is
how things get lost forever.

David Reed
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