Copyright

One of the issues we’re having to grapple with in developing the Great Writers Inspire project is the issue of copyright.  In Britain, literary (and other) works are in copyright for 70 years from the death of the author, which means permission is needed (and a fee usually needs to be paid) each time their work is reproduced.  I’m enviously watching as my colleagues who work on Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift and George Eliot upload ebooks and give talks replete with quotations.  But, as a twentieth-century specialist, few of the works I research are freely available.  Because the aim of this project is to produce content that can be downloaded by anyone and used repeatedly, we can’t use any material in copyright—in fact, I had to re-record my podcast on Ezra Pound, because I quoted his poetry in the first version.  Pound died in 1972, so it’s going to be a while until his work is out of copyright.  But other less long-lived twentieth-century authors are now coming out of copyright—notably James Joyce, whose work has been the subject of a number of legal disputes: see http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/01/james-joyce-public-domain.html

Although it may be more difficult to achieve, it’s important we twentieth- and twenty-first-century writing in this project, even if we have to do it by directing readers to sources off-site (see my references to some excellent websites in my theme introduction to Modernism).  After all, writers weren’t only great and inspiring in the past…

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One Response to Copyright

  1. cleohanaway says:

    Well said! See my related post and comments re. the on-going Joyce copyright controversies: http://writersinspire.org/2012/04/11/yes-i-said-yes-nli-puts-james-joyce-papers-online/

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