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Old 06-30-2008, 04:49 PM   #16
Ralph Sir Edward
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That would make a veeery interesting legal case, as the US constitution explicitly denies the government the right to create ex post facto (after the fact) laws....
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:02 PM   #17
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That would make a veeery interesting legal case, as the US constitution explicitly denies the government the right to create ex post facto (after the fact) laws....
Doesn't that mean that something you did yesterday can't be made illegal retroactively? So, I can't get arrested for something I did on Wednesday that is made illegal on Thursday?

I think this is a different circumstance.

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Old 06-30-2008, 05:12 PM   #18
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Doesn't that mean that something you did yesterday can't be made illegal retroactively? So, I can't get arrested for something I did on Wednesday that is made illegal on Thursday?

I think this is a different circumstance.

BOb
Not really. If something was legally defined, (and property definitions are as much law as criminal law), and the legal definition was backdated, it should be an ex post facto legal occurance. I suspect nobody considered it worth litigating over....(Congress has skirted ex post facto with tax laws for years, claiming that since the legislations were submitted before the effective dates, it didn't violate ex post facto constitutionality....)
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:16 PM   #19
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That would make a veeery interesting legal case, as the US constitution explicitly denies the government the right to create ex post facto (after the fact) laws....
Yes and no. All that law did was declare that anything still in copyright (at the time) did not have to be renewed.
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:38 PM   #20
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Yes and no. All that law did was declare that anything still in copyright (at the time) did not have to be renewed.
Bueno! That's perfectly valid.
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:49 PM   #21
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Actually, I believe it was 1976 when the US joined the Berne Convention. There was a big noise made about Lord of the Rings being pirated by ---- company due to the lack of a US copyright filing. (Name deliberately left off.)
The publisher took technically legal (if dubiously ethical) advantage of an error on the part of of Tolkien's British publisher, Unwin and Allen. They subsequently made a payment to Tolkien of monies earned on that edition to attempt to defuse the adverse publicity stemming from the act.

They guy running the place got his start in the old pulp days when "payment upon threat of lawsuit" was a regrettably common experience for an author, and "sharp" practices were the norm, so this behavior wasn't a terrible surprise.

(And from stories I recall hearing back then, Unwin and Allen were diddling Tolkien as well, taking advantage of his ignorance of the publishing business. That was regrettably common, too. I knew one woman who was an editor back when who got a call from an author inquiring about royalties. She said "Read your contract!", and got chewed by her boss for saying that much. "Keep them ignorant, and maybe we won't have to pay them...")

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There was a number of (Very rare!) mimeograph books issued in the US by British authors to enforce their copyrights....
The only one I can think of was a copy of "Dr. Mirabilis", issued in mimeo by the late James Blish, to preserve his copyright after an error by Little, Brown. IIRC, Blish was residing in Britain at the time, but was not British.

Which others are you aware of?
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Old 06-30-2008, 07:13 PM   #22
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Sorry I don't remember the titles. I saw around a half dozen (or so) for sale from a bookdealer in the late 70's. I remember the incident but not the titles. James Blish was one of the authors.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:08 PM   #23
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This still strikes me as strange as P.G. hasn't done any of his works. Maybe they know something we don't know. I'd better give Greg Weeks an e-mail...
I just got a response from Greg Weeks with P.G.

"I'd love to do some, but my notes have him listed as a UK citizen. I
suspect a bunch of his work is public domain, but PG won't clear it right
now. The rules for renewals get much more complicated when it's not for a
US citizen."

If P.G.USA won't clear it, it won't get done here.
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:18 AM   #24
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The publisher took technically legal (if dubiously ethical) advantage of an error on the part of of Tolkien's British publisher, Unwin and Allen. They subsequently made a payment to Tolkien of monies earned on that edition to attempt to defuse the adverse publicity stemming from the act.
If you're talking about Ace Books, what they did in printing a completely unauthorised paperback edition of LOTR was pretty shameful, IMHO, and of extremely dubious legality. Such people don't deserve to have their "name suppressed".
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:24 AM   #25
Ralph Sir Edward
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If you're talking about Ace Books, what they did in printing a completely unauthorised paperback edition of LOTR was pretty shameful, IMHO, and of extremely dubious legality. Such people don't deserve to have their "name suppressed".
In the land of the lawyer, (where the loser does not pay all legal fees) it is sometimes wise to be circumspect in one's comments....
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:33 AM   #26
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If you're talking about Ace Books, what they did in printing a completely unauthorised paperback edition of LOTR was pretty shameful, IMHO, and of extremely dubious legality. Such people don't deserve to have their "name suppressed".
He was, and it was legal. They weren't sued for it.

As mentioned, they did wind up making a payment to Tolkien based on sales of their edition, in an effort to defuse the bad press they got from it. Ace has subsequently changed hands and management, and it a much better house these days.

I knew the guy at Ace Books responsible for that move. He came out of the old pulps, where sharp practices were the rule rather than the exception, so his move wasn't a huge surprise in retrospect. You can even argue that he did Tolkien a favor. It's not clear Ballantine would have picked up LoTR and become hugely successful with it if Ace hadn't demonstrated there was a market. The success of LoTR spawned the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, which returned a lot of other classic stuff to print, and arguably created the fantasy genre as it exists now.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:36 AM   #27
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In the land of the lawyer, (where the loser does not pay all legal fees) it is sometimes wise to be circumspect in one's comments....
Not a worry in this case.

The defense against a libel or slander suit is proof that you told the truth. The facts are well documented and a part of the public record, it was widely discussed in print when it happened, and nobody concerned will have any interest in raking up those old coals.
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