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Recorded on 23 January 2104.
In case you haven’t noticed I think about Copyright. Author’s rights. Libraries’ rights. Purchasing vs. accessing. Is copying theft or not. I read about these topics. I think about these topics. I blog and speak about these topics. I don’t want to sound like I’m obsessed, but it’s something that’s important to me as both a librarian and an author.
But now, it’s starting to creep into my everyday life. For example, this morning I was reading an Advance Reader’s Edition of the next Dean Koontz novel 77 Shadow Street. Very earl in the novel I can across the following paragraph:
Blandon was one of the Jerks. He belonged in jail, but he bought his freedom by loading up on attorneys in five-thousand-dollar suits. No doubt he had also threatened to take half his political party down with him if they didn’t put their hands up the backsides of their puppet prosecutors and puppet judges to ensure that the Muppet show called justice would follow the plot he preferred.
Instead of enjoying the image of a lawyer as human Muppet I immediately thought "hey, Muppet is a trademarked term (I think). Did he have to get permission to use that? Even if he didn’t have to, did he anyway?” (Ok, technically this isn’t a copyright issue, it’s a trademark issue, but close enough to make my point.)
Sure, it’s probably fair use. But is this a Kleenex vs. facial tissue sort of situation? A Muppet is a type of puppet. Did Dean need to be that specific? If Disney sued and he changed it to “puppet” to settle the suit, would that change the metaphor? Should I be writing Muppet™ every time just to cover myself.
Oh, and let’s not forget that this is a edition of a book that clearly states “NOT FOR SALE” on the cover yet I purchased it on eBay. Sure, right of first sale and all, but is that statement on the cover an implicit license to the original owner of this copy? Did they ask for it then resell it, or was it given to them by the publisher unrequested. (Yes, that has actually made a difference in some first sale doctrine court cases.) Oh, and did you know that even though the first sale doctrine most likely applies to selling this copy, you can’t sell one on Amazon? (Their site, their rules, but I’m sure it’s because they don’t want to piss off the publishers, legal or not.)
I guess my point is that copyright in this country has gotten so complex that it just doesn’t necessarily make sense, as applied, any more. All of this makes me think of something I recently heard Cory Doctorow say which I’ll need to paraphrase as I can’t find the actual quote:
Copyright is like banking regulation. Sure we need to regulate banks and those large transactions but that doesn’t mean those regulations should kick in if I want to borrow five dollars from a friend.
Yes, copyright has it’s place but industrial grade regulations shouldn’t necessarily apply to the individual. If for no other reason that it’s starting to make my brain hurt.
I own a lot a limited edition books. I have one bound in tye-dyed denim, another bound in lizard skin, and one who’s cover features highly polished aluminum so much so that is cam with white gloves lest you leave a fingerprint on it.
However, recently I discovered Centipede Press and I must say that their books are truly works of art despite not using any particularly unique materials. My first title from them was Slob by Rex Miller with an introduction by Ray Garton. To say that this title is hand crafted and well bound would be an understatement.
Bu then I got a package in the mail yesterday. This box contained the Don Brautigam Artist Portfolio published by Centipede Press. Here’s the official description:
This large, 10 × 14 collection covers the entire artistic career of Don Brautigam. Well-known and widely acknowledged for having revolutionized paperback cover art back in the 1970s, Don passed away earlier this year. But his legacy lives on in this beautiful, oversized edition. This volume includes all of his Stephen King and Dean Koontz covers, including Night Shift, The Stand, The Running Man, Dragon Tears, Strangers, and a lot more. The first 30 copies are signed by Don Brautigam and Dean Koontz. Bound in cloth with a printed front panel, and enclosed in a cloth slipcase.
My photos don’t do it justice (for example. each print is on very glossy paper) but I’m at a complete loss for words beyond what you just read. Regardless, here they are and I can’t say to the publisher just how proud I am to own one of these beautiful books.
From the BDD Web site:
“Not only has Dean Koontz completed THE GOOD GUY (coming in hardcover 5/29) but he’s also ready to read some of it to you. Dean will be appearing—rather, his avatar will be appearing—in SECOND LIFE on Thursday, 3/15, at 6pm (PST), as the first-ever “Bantam Dell Authors-in-Second-Life” event. Already a member of Second Life? Visit The Bantam Dell Book Shop in Second Life for more details.”