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Old 03-05-2018, 10:12 PM   #29
SteveEisenberg
Wizard
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What About Next Year When the Issue Will Be Bigger?

The root issue here is liable to heat up next year, when books published in 1923 are scheduled to enter the United States public domain no matter how recently the author died. One title sure to be of interest at Project Gutenberg, The Murder on the Links, by alleged best-selling author of all time Agatha Christie (1890-1976), enters the US public domain in 302 days. This is, if I calculate correctly, eight years before it enters the public domain in China (Life + 50), eighteen years before it enters the public domain in India (Life + 60), and twenty-eight years before it enters the public domain in Europe (Life + 70).

So what should Project Gutenberg do about that? Should they defy copyright in every country, except the one they are located in, by hosting one or two additional Agatha Christie books every year starting in 2019?

One consideration is that the United States claimed, in 1989, to have acceded to the Life + 50 minimum Berne Convention, and then promptly passed law inconsistent with it. If Project Gutenberg puts The Murder on the Links in their collection next year, they will be honoring this hypocrisy.

I suppose Project Gutenberg has already considered and dismissed my idea. But here it is: They should move to the most common international standard, Life + 50. This would require locating where there is Life + 50 copyright and a strong tradition of freedom to read. Excellent choices include Canada, New Zealand, and Japan.

In general, I believe in the system of having nation states. But I can't see eBook copyright length as an realm where it's practical to have different national standards.
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