Founders’ License

creativecommons.pngReceived an interesting invitation from O’Reilly — we the people may have lost the fight against corporate copyright interests with the defeat of Eldred, but that doesn’t stop anyone from voluntarily entering their works into the public domain before the 70+ years are up. O’Reilly is asking all of their authors to let the publisher place a “Founder’s Copyright” on books 14 years after they go out of print (the founders of this country originally set copyright term limits at 14 years). Because I signed and returned the contract amendment, my MP3 book, which is already out of print, will enter the public domain in 14 years rather than in 70.

Speaking of which, if you’ve been seeing Creative Commons badges on web sites and wondering what the hell, check this Flash movie featuring the iconified likenesses of Jack and Meg White.

Music: Tom Constanten :: Morning Dew

8 Replies to “Founders’ License”

  1. No, the lesson from the MP3 book (both for O’Reilly and for me) was that not all “hot topics” are necessarily good sellers. 99% of people want to know how where to download MP3s and maybe how to rip/encode them. There was virtually no demand for a technical book on the topic. Despite an audience 1/1000 the size, the BeOS book sold 10x better than the MP3 book.

  2. Luckily it’s still available via O’Reilly’s Safari service.

    You just have to love a publisher who actually uses the strengths of a new medium.

  3. You just have to love a publisher who actually uses the strengths of a new medium.

    Exactly. It costs O’Reilly virtually nothing to host the book on Safari (save a bit of disk space, which is virtually free these days), and they have the opportunity to make some more sales on it….

  4. I have one serious comment and one not.

    Serious: If stored on Safari (or any other digital medium), what are the chances the book will be retrievable by any extant technology in 70 years?

    Not: You published a book on an unpopular topic and then gave up your right to profit from it for an additional 56 years?? What are you, UNAMERICAN or something??

  5. I’m trying to figure out which comments is the serious one. Kidding. ;)

    I think of various digital media devolving in 70 years, but not the web itself. Do you see the web obsoleting itself? It’s possible…. Interesting.

    MP3 is an unpopular topic?

    Unamerican? Goddam right!

  6. >Do you see the web obsoleting itself? It’s possible..

    absolutely!
    It’s in the nature of technology in capitalist society to obsolete itself. As long as capitalism reigns, “innovation” (really, change) will continue at essentially uncontrolled rates. The more change, the less chance a future technology will be able to read files made by present tools.

    Permanent digital storage of anything is practically impossible for this reason. Not theoretically impossible (you can always build a drive to read an old disk) but impossible in practice because nobody can be bothered to do it for the vast number of works that exist.

    So, librarians generally talk about copying works from old media to new media. This is ongoing. What happens, though, when the media itself prevents its own copying? It is then impossible to archive. History destroyed, profits protected.

  7. OK, but the book hasn’t become obsolete. Or the match, or the wheel, or… Of course technology changes form much more quickly. I can see the form of the computer changing, the storage mechanism, etc., but I can’t imagine us not having something like the web ever again. Whether content online today is online in 70 years is a factor of a lot of things, the least of which is what kind of storage we have then. What I mean is that if the content matters to someone, it will stay online. Maybe over IPv13, maybe over some non http protocol… but in some form. I guess I just mean that the shape of the hosting technology isn’t as important as the relevance of the content (not that I expect that old book to be relevant!)

    By “when the media itself prevents its own copying” are you referring to forms of DRM? OK, but I’m having trouble imaging people deploying web storage that can’t be backed up or duplicated.

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