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Re: [d@DCC] Copyright, eBooks & Public Domain Sources

From: Ron Koster <ron _-at-_>
To: "General Copyright Discussions (questions, organizing, etc)" <discuss (at)>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2016 12:32:54 -0400
References: <> <> <> <>

Firstly, I just want to thank you, Russell, for accomplishing what all 
my fellow ebook publishers over on that other forum couldn't -- you've 
actually managed to change my mind on these issues we've been 
discussing, and truly enlightened me to a whole new perspective! Thank 
you so much for that! ;)

I still need to re-think this a bit -- or perhaps "absorb" it is a 
better way of putting that, and come to some decisions about what way to 
move forward from here -- but while there's a couple of things I'd like 
to respond to still from your last reply, I'll try my best to wrap this 
up as much as I can so that I can stop pestering you with my questions. 
In that regard, if I've deleted (and am not replying to) the large bulk 
of your last reply, it's not because it wasn't worthy of 
acknowledgement, but quite the contrary, that it actually was! It's 
those parts that I don't really have any further questions about (and 
which I've deleted in my response here, for conciseness' sake) that 
were, in fact, the most mind-blowing. ;)

Anyway, on to the questions I still have...

On 2016-10-03 5:36 PM, Russell McOrmond wrote:
> And so now I basically just do it for free, give my books away for free,
>> and do it simply for the love of doing it, just to be creative. And
>> that, for me, is I suppose the greatest satisfaction that I get from
>> doing this. :)
>    Were you going through a reseller, or doing this on your own?  Careful
> with some of the resellers, as many ebook resellers will add restrictions
> to the ebooks that lower the value of the book and make it less likely
> people will compensate.

Well, so far I've only been selling my books on the iTunes Store -- 
except for the very first book that I published, which I also did a 
version for sale on Amazon. Getting one's ebook to work for there 
(Amazon), however, is SUCH a nightmare! There's, like, five different 
versions of Kindle, etc. that you have to get your book to work in (and 
still look good, without the formatting going all haywire), and one 
never knows what kind of ridiculous change they're going to come up with 
next. I pride myself on the design, layout, typography, etc. of the 
ebooks I create, and I don't want to see them just "fall apart" simply 
because of the way some of Amazon's e-readers "destroy" my efforts. And 
the subject matter and audience of all my books (so far) is so obscure 
and limited that I don't really have enough sales to make it worth my 
while, either -- and so I gave up on Amazon, and just design simply for 
dissemination via the iTunes (iBooks) Store, basically.

Is that what you meant by "reseller"? If not, if what you meant is going 
through another third-party company, who then distribute it to iTunes, 
Amazon, Barnes & Noble and whatever other online booksellers, then no, I 
don't do that. I've read too many bad things about those sorts of 
"services," they not only take too much of a chunk of your sales for 
themselves, but they also take your books and ruin the formatting too, 
before even sending them along to those bookstores. I have my own 
account set up with Apple (and Amazon) and upload to them directly myself.

(Sorry if that was an overly-verbose answer to your question, rather 
than just simply saying "No.") ;)

>    Read some of the writings by successful authors like Cory Doctorow when
> they talk about epublishers, and specifically about the real impact of DRM
> on the ebook marketplace (hint -- it does nothing to reduce copyright
> infringement, and most evidence suggests it lowers the value of the work
> while providing incentives to infringe).

Oh, THIS I'm definitely curious about, what you mean. How has DRM had a 
negative impact? I do understand that anyone can learn how to "crack 
open" an ebook with DRM and then see the code inside anyway (although I 
don't know how, myself -- but I'm sure that's just a simple search 
away), but in what way is does DRM "lower the value" (and have that 
"negative impact")?

All the ebooks that I've published so far I've checked that box to "Add 
DRM" while uploading them to iTunes -- you have me wondering now if I 
should change that.

>    You appear to be assuming that copyright is what gets you credit for your
> contribution.  This is why I'm suggesting you stop focusing on copyright,
> and instead focus on reputation.   Reputation and a loyal fan/customer base
> is far more powerful for independent creators than copyright, especially
> for those whose business is enhancements of the public domain.


>    The question of originality is an artistic one.  If your skill is in
> understanding history, then copyright may not be the best tool for you to
> be focused on.

Well, you've certainly convinced me through this discussion to stop 
"focusing" on copyright, although I guess I do still have to wonder now 
what to do with regard to any sort of copyright notice that I might 
include in my book.

In that regard, the copyright notice I currently have in this latest 
ebook of mine (largely similar in other previously-published books, 
too), buried in small print at the very end of my book, reads as follows...

"This entire publication copyright  Ron Koster, 2016. No part of this 
document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any 
form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) 
without the prior written permission of the author and publisher. Cover 
art and the portrait of Shakespeare are original artwork by Ron Koster. 
Copyright  Ron Koster, 2016."

By "entire publication" I'm effectively including all those plays and 
poems by Shakespeare (et al.), but from all you've said (and enlightened 
me to) I guess there's no point in trying to lay any claim on those, 
despite the various corrections and other textual emendations I've made.

As rather disheartening as that latter is, is there any point (or 
legitimacy) to still including a copyright notice with regard to "this 
entire publication," if only for the HTML/CSS coding and overall design 
of it? Or, from what you were saying elsewhere, do I not even have any 
real claim on that, either?

If not even that is really copyrightable by myself, then the only things 
left that are unequivocally "mine" would be my Publisher's Preface, some 
digital artwork I did of a "new" portrait of Shakespeare, and other more 
minor things like the main title page, table of contents, etc. (although 
these latter are of much smaller significance, of course).

If you're curious, if in anyway it would help you to understand what 
I've been doing with this ebook, I'd be happy to send you a copy 
(directly to your email address -- I realize I can't/shouldn't send 
attachments to the whole list, of course). It's about 10 megs in size.

On a separate note, with regard to my query about those promotional 
photos from "The Phantom of the Opera" (on a side note -- just to 
correct myself -- it was Universal who put that film out, not MGM)...

>    Offering access to stills of a public domain work.  It's ground that my
> workplace believes is extremely solid, so I can't see you having any issue
> :-)
>    Again, I'm not a lawyer.  Berne convention (and Canada kept that, last I
> looked into it) lists a fixed 50 years for cinematographic works, but some
> have tried to debate that the death of directors, producers, etc should be
> taken into consideration for the term for aspects of the work.

 From a number of websites that discuss that particular film version 
(i.e. the 1925 Universal one, with Lon Chaney -- not any other, later 
film versions of the story, of course), apparently Universal 
"inexplicably" and "stupidly" let their copyright lapse back in the 
1950s -- I guess the rules for copyright must have been VERY different 
back then, nothing at all like "life plus 70 years" or anything like 
that -- and thus now anyone can just go out and duplicate/share/sell it 
as they please.

Of course, that doesn't give them access to the original film negatives 
or anything like that, and thus the only really "definitive" and 
"restored" version is still put out by Universal (or whomever it is that 
acquired those original negatives), but I guess my concern was instead 
with using those promotional photos -- whether there's a difference in 
using those (as a form of "print publication"), as opposed to the film 

But I guess you've already answered that, of course. ;) If you do have 
anything to add on that subject, though, do feel free to fire away!

Thanks so much, once again, Russell! This has all been VERY enlightening 
for me -- regardless of my disappointment! That's not your fault, of 
course (ha ha).

Ron ;)
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