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Old 02-04-2014, 07:57 PM   #16
Catlady
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
A practical example: a couple of months ago, all the "Brother Cadfael" detective stories by Ellis Peters were available as ebooks, but today they are not.
But they're in print in paper.

I was thinking more along the lines of an author's backlist e-book, which he or she could keep selling forever. If the big booksellers won't stock it, the author can sell it from a Web site. It might sell one copy every five years, but you couldn't say it was out of print.

How could anyone be able to verify that something was absolutely, positively out of print/unavailable for a specified period to kick it into public domain? It would be a nightmare.
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:58 PM   #17
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I think an ebook is considered "out of print" when it fails to sell a minimum number of copies, at least when it comes to calculating author royalties/when the rights revert from the publisher.
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:51 PM   #18
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As per rkomar's post earlier: Copyright gives the owner control of certain publishing rights, including the right not to publish in certain ways (or at all). This makes the "out of print" test unworkable - even though the exceptions to it would probably be in the minority.
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:49 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
But they're in print in paper.
True, but the actual question you asked was "what does out-of-print mean when it comes to an e-book?" I gave you an example of what it meant. ebooks can and do go out of print.
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Old 02-05-2014, 06:48 AM   #20
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That's why I suggesting the idea of a voluntary government buyback. It would clearly separate whose who wanted to keep the copyright, for whatever reason, from those who felt that the copyright was relatively worthless, and was willing to release it for one last cash payment. Strictly voluntary...

Here's a hypothetical example. I'm Joe Hackwriter. Early in my career, such as it was, I wrote pulp romances in the pen name Jane Lustbucket. My best known works were the trilogy - A Litter of Lizards, Looking For a Few Lizards More and The Small, The Big, and The Egglayer. That was in 1966, when I was 25. Now I'm 73, and nothing I write sells. There hasn't been any publishing interest in the Lizard trilogy in decades. But I could now sell it back to the public domain for enough money to pay a year's rent. Hmmm....
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Old 02-05-2014, 06:55 AM   #21
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In these days of government spending cuts, Ralph, do you think there's any serious possibility of this occurring? I can't see either party wanting to spend what could be potentially large sums of money to "buy out" the copyright of living authors. It's difficult to quantify the benefit to society (in $ terms, I mean) of doing so.

It sounds more like the sort of thing that charitable foundations might be persuaded to do.

Last edited by HarryT; 02-05-2014 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:27 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
That's why I suggesting the idea of a voluntary government buyback. It would clearly separate whose who wanted to keep the copyright, for whatever reason, from those who felt that the copyright was relatively worthless, and was willing to release it for one last cash payment. Strictly voluntary...

Here's a hypothetical example. I'm Joe Hackwriter. Early in my career, such as it was, I wrote pulp romances in the pen name Jane Lustbucket. My best known works were the trilogy - A Litter of Lizards, Looking For a Few Lizards More and The Small, The Big, and The Egglayer. That was in 1966, when I was 25. Now I'm 73, and nothing I write sells. There hasn't been any publishing interest in the Lizard trilogy in decades. But I could now sell it back to the public domain for enough money to pay a year's rent. Hmmm....
And what public benefit is there for these books to be in public domain, to justify the government--the taxpayers--paying for them to be in public domain? Do you want the government to decide on what's worthwhile to pay for and what's not? Suppose I write a horrible book and sell two copies to relatives--should the government later pay me for my rights to the book?

It's a lot simpler to just make the author/author's heirs be required to renew copyright and keep government involvement passive.

Last edited by Catlady; 02-05-2014 at 03:49 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-05-2014, 01:50 PM   #23
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What's to stop a publisher from publishing a book with 300 pages of "banana banana banana" repeated over and over, and then releasing the work into the public domain for the tax credit? I don't advocate for copyright to be reduced, because there just isn't any chance of that happening. I do favor putting an end to extensions to copyright, but if it is extended further, it becomes more imperative to have orphaned works legislation. There are movies that are rotting - literally - in vaults, and no one can restore them because they are orphaned works. Copyright law does give the copyright holder the right not to publish, but laws can be changed - every extension to copyright is a change in the law, after all, if we can change the law for one purpose, we can change it for another. There should be some burden put on the copyright holder to demonstrate that the copyright is still valid: publish or perish.
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:41 AM   #24
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Someone once said that politics was about the art of the possible. If you think that you are going to out-bribe Disney to prevent even further copyright extensions, go ahead. I was just trying to provide a "flank assault", that would at least provide a partial reduction, without raising Hollywood's hackles.

It may not solve the problem of orphan works, but it might reduce the addition to the pile...

As to the "banana, banana, banana" book, if it doesn't sell, where are the royalties to claim value from, for releasing the "book" into the public domain.
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:49 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
In these days of government spending cuts, Ralph, do you think there's any serious possibility of this occurring? I can't see either party wanting to spend what could be potentially large sums of money to "buy out" the copyright of living authors. It's difficult to quantify the benefit to society (in $ terms, I mean) of doing so.

It sounds more like the sort of thing that charitable foundations might be persuaded to do.
HarryT, I don't know. The whole idea "behind the idea" is to have something to counter the next Hollywood request for copyright extension with. Telling you Congresscritter (MP in your world) to tell the people offer him/her all those campaign funds to "go jump in a lake" is going to be a non-starter.

Of course, I could be wrong and another SOPA rebellion could occur, but I think even if it did, the extension would still get passed, rolled into another bill, snuck in at midnight before the end of a session...
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:26 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
HarryT, I don't know. The whole idea "behind the idea" is to have something to counter the next Hollywood request for copyright extension with. Telling you Congresscritter (MP in your world) to tell the people offer him/her all those campaign funds to "go jump in a lake" is going to be a non-starter.

Of course, I could be wrong and another SOPA rebellion could occur, but I think even if it did, the extension would still get passed, rolled into another bill, snuck in at midnight before the end of a session...
But why are buyouts and/or tax credits more palatable than a simple renewal requirement? Those who are still making money from a creative work have an incentive to renew; those who aren't can decide if they want to bother or not.
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:34 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
But why are buyouts and/or tax credits more palatable than a simple renewal requirement? Those who are still making money from a creative work have an incentive to renew; those who aren't can decide if they want to bother or not.
For one thing, you're imposing a requirement on people which an international treaty says they shouldn't have to do. Ralph's idea at least has the advantage that it requires no change to international copyright law.
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:36 AM   #28
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As to the "banana, banana, banana" book, if it doesn't sell, where are the royalties to claim value from, for releasing the "book" into the public domain.
The publishers would only be releasing books into the public domain if they weren't selling. Orphaned works have no value, there are no royalties to claim. If there were payments for releasing these works into the public domain, you would need some mechanism to tell the difference between worthy books and unworthy books.
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:20 PM   #29
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There's a non-governmental organization trying to reward authors for releasing their works under Creative Commons licenses right now. Depending on the CC license used, it can be pretty close to Public Domain. Unglue.it allows authors to use pledge drives to buy their books' freedom. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

I mention this because it's similar to the original premise.
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Old 02-06-2014, 03:29 PM   #30
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For one thing, you're imposing a requirement on people which an international treaty says they shouldn't have to do. Ralph's idea at least has the advantage that it requires no change to international copyright law.
But we're talking in hypotheticals, not about specific implementation around the world.

Frankly, as much as I dislike the way copyright law keeps material out of the public domain for far too long, I would oppose any scheme that involved government buyouts or tax credits. That would involve government in the business of evaluating worthiness and assigning monetary value to creative works, and is way too open to manipulation and waste.
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