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Old 12-01-2010, 05:04 AM   #1
thrawn_aj
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Project Gutenberg in public domain row

http://ereads.com/2010/11/project-gu...ors-claim.html

Interesting statement. If I'm reading it correctly - the issue is that PG is being somewhat ... overzealous ... in consigning works to the public domain when they are still under copyright. Bear and his wife (also the daughter of Poul Anderson), make some good points in the statement. I would imagine it's a simple case of (as I said) over-zealousness on PG's part and they'll probably remove the offending works. Raises some intriguing questions about differing copyright laws throughout the world and how that's going to work out in this case.

FTA -
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By misreading copyright law Project Gutenberg may have infringed the rights of some authors and improperly put their books into the public domain, say science fiction author Greg Bear and Astrid Anderson Bear, his wife and daughter of another SF author, Poul Anderson. Gutenberg’s release of several Poul Anderson works into the public domain provoked an investigation by the couple, who have issued the statement reproduced below in its entirety [at the link above].
More links:
1. Copyrighted works by still-alive SF authors start showing up on PG
2. The story referenced above
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:21 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrawn_aj View Post
http://ereads.com/2010/11/project-gu...ors-claim.html

Interesting statement. If I'm reading it correctly - the issue is that PG is being somewhat ... overzealous ... in consigning works to the public domain when they are still under copyright. Bear and his wife (also the daughter of Poul Anderson), make some good points in the statement. I would imagine it's a simple case of (as I said) over-zealousness on PG's part and they'll probably remove the offending works. Raises some intriguing questions about differing copyright laws throughout the world and how that's going to work out in this case.
Project Gutenberg is only concerned with US copyright law. The issue in this case is that a serialisation was later published as part of a later novel with a different name. PG didn't notice the connection until it was pointed out to them.

Here's their response: http://cand.pglaf.org/bear-response.txt

This particular case few general implications. PG will just have to be a little more careful in checking for registrations of copyright in future.

Oh - and PG dO NOT consign works to the public domain. Works are either in the public domain or are not in the public domain. It's just that working out into which category some works fit is harder than is ideal.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Project Gutenberg is only concerned with US copyright law. The issue in this case is that a serialisation was later published as part of a later novel with a different name. PG didn't notice the connection until it was pointed out to them.

Here's their response: http://cand.pglaf.org/bear-response.txt
Actually the timeline is:
September: The Bears contact PG requesting the Anderson stories be taken down
October: PG responds (pdurrant's link) saying they are taking down The Escape (because copyright was renewed under a different title) and that they are checking with their lawyers about the other Anderson stories but that they're pretty sure they're on solid legal ground to keep them up.
November: The Bears respond with the press statement quoted at ereads.com (thrawn_aj's main link) saying that they are unhappy that PG haven't changed their official guidelines yet like they promised they would and urging people who believe they hold the copyright on other PG works to send DMCA takedown notices to PG, manybooks etc.

As for my opinion on the matter: Aarrghh. Current history has proved that copyright arguments have nothing to do with what's fair or right, and are purely about figuring out what the current law actually means. Nice people get screwed and evil selfish people hoard and steal on both sides of the author/distributor divide. Figuring out which category the Bears and PG fit into in this case is completly pointless. All that matters is what's legal this week. And the only people who will figure that out is the lawyers
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:29 AM   #4
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Just how long should a copyright last?

I see two time frames - forever or death of author. Justifying anything in between is quite arbitrary and makes no sense. Personally, I lean toward forever.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:52 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
Just how long should a copyright last?
Long enough to be an incentive to the author to continue creating.

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I see two time frames - forever or death of author. Justifying anything in between is quite arbitrary and makes no sense.
That's an extreme notion. Life isn't black and white either, all kinds of shades of grey exist. But if these two are really the only options, obviously protection during the lifetime of the author would be it. Non-expiring copyright is nothing but a few publisher's wet dreams.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
Just how long should a copyright last?

I see two time frames - forever or death of author. Justifying anything in between is quite arbitrary and makes no sense. Personally, I lean toward forever.
(All IMO)

Copyright length should be long enough to encourage people to create, and no longer.

Most works should have about the same length of copyright from creation.

Copyright should last at least the lifetime of the author.

Whether a work is in copyright should be easy to determine.


Combining these four, mixing in human lifespan and the age at which creative people start creating worth-while works, I'd suggest that 50 years or the life of the author, whichever is longer, would be a good length.

With this rule, most works would be in copyright for 50 years — ample time to get paid for the work. Some early works by long-lived authors would be in copyright for a bit longer, but not many and not by much.

By having (lengthy fixed term) or (life of author), whichever is longer, the variation in the length of copyright of any work is minimal.

Unfortunately, the Berne convention established the "lifetime + fixed term" rule, and it seems very unlikely that any international agreement will be reached to change this.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
Just how long should a copyright last?

I see two time frames - forever or death of author. Justifying anything in between is quite arbitrary and makes no sense. Personally, I lean toward forever.
But how would you figure out who the heirs were in 150 years? Trying to get anything republished would be a total nightmare.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian View Post
That's an extreme notion. Life isn't black and white either, all kinds of shades of grey exist. But if these two are really the only options, obviously protection during the lifetime of the author would be it. Non-expiring copyright is nothing but a few publisher's wet dreams.
Forever is no more extreme in regards to intellectual property than it is with tangible property. If an author's rights expire 75 years after death, then shouldn't a landowner's rights also expire 75 years after death?
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
Just how long should a copyright last?

I see two time frames - forever or death of author. Justifying anything in between is quite arbitrary and makes no sense. Personally, I lean toward forever.
I think you should read this (yes, it's relevant).
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:11 AM   #10
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Please don't let's get sidetracked into yet another pointless discussion about copyright length. It's been discussed a thousand times before, and never achieves anything. Please start a new thread if you want to talk about that, rather than "hijacking" this one.

Thanks.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hatgirl View Post
But how would you figure out who the heirs were in 150 years? Trying to get anything republished would be a total nightmare.
How do they figure out who the heirs are to land after 150 years?
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:21 AM   #12
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Please don't let's get sidetracked into yet another pointless discussion about copyright length. It's been discussed a thousand times before, and never achieves anything. Please start a new thread if you want to talk about that, rather than "hijacking" this one.

Thanks.
No problem. I'll stop now.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:23 AM   #13
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How do they figure out who the heirs are to land after 150 years?
They have a land (title) register in many parts of the world, including practically all of Europe.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:28 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
Forever is no more extreme in regards to intellectual property than it is with tangible property. If an author's rights expire 75 years after death, then shouldn't a landowner's rights also expire 75 years after death?
Are you talking about "the rule against perpetuities?"

I am the owner of real estate. I will it absolutely to my child. Child become owner outright. Child wills outright to child, etc. Each is owner. One decides to sell to outsider - fine. Now the rule - I will it to child with strings that it must be passed on and on and on and cannot be sold outside of family - no good - violates rule.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:17 PM   #15
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Forever is no more extreme in regards to intellectual property than it is with tangible property. If an author's rights expire 75 years after death, then shouldn't a landowner's rights also expire 75 years after death?

You don't understand the *purpose* of copyright. The purpose of copyright is to encourage creators to contribute to the culture. Same as patents are to encourage inventors to contribute to the public good.

They're not to protect commercial rights into perpetuity. Without the public domain, there's no *culture*. Just a hash of commerciality.

Which may be fine with you, but that's not the original intent of the idea of copyright.
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