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Prof. Bently et al Concluding the History of Copyright · Wednesday July 21, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

If you need some good reading whilst lazing on the veranda of your summer villa, look no further than Privilege and Property – Essays on the History of Copyright

Edited by Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer and Lionel Bently, it’s bound (or not) to be a stimulating intellectual work.

The thing is, the history of copyright is rapidly reaching its inevitable conclusion, and so the number of such books that can be written on copyright’s history must soon tail off. Though of course, once it’s abolished there will be a whole new swathe of “It was obvious it had to go” books. No doubt these will be e-Books sans DRM.

The Open Book Publishers have included a CC-NC-ND license in the PDF (and presumably the printed collection of essays), which is something. The author of each essay is still free to make their work available under any other license. So we still have this ridiculous quandary of provenance in order to establish what a particular recipient can do with his particular copy (irrespective of it being indistinguishably similar to a copy available with a different license).

The PDF is £4.95. I can give you a copy here, but I’m not permitted to cover my costs nor receive any monetary incentive from you to do so (per the invidious NC clause). The paperback is £14.95 and the hardback is £24.95.

Even though this is supposed to be a ‘next generation’ publisher, they still don’t consider it’s any business of the purchaser to know how much of the purchase price actually ends up with the author (if anything). It’s still the proprietary ‘copyright holder is selling you a copy’ mentality. They’ve already made a deal with the author. So the public are still just paying for copies (at monopoly protected prices). Where’s the truly new model where the readers pay the authors to write, and those who want printed copies pay the printers to print them? Perhaps compare the WikiTravelPress model? Pop along to Lulu and print as many copies as you like and then even sell them if you want to.

Authors and publishers are having to migrate to a world without copyright, even if they like to kid themselves that it’s business as usual and copyright is as sprightly as ever and not at all decrepit.

It’s time someone noticed the nails keeping copyright upright upon its perch.

Copyright is history. Lawyers can read it and weep.



 

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