Making Light: The life expectancies of books


Blake writes "In Making Light: The life expectancies of books author Teresa Nielsen Hayden takes a look at Copyright and going out of print. She says Falling out of print is a book's natural fate. We can belatedly train ourselves to believe that this will happen to other people's books. What's hard is for writers to believe it will happen to their own."


What a blog entry! (And that comment thread puts the biblioblogosphere to shame: I gave up less than 1/4 of the way through.). Well worth reading and pondering.

As some commenters pointed out, PoD technology theoretically eliminates "Out of print"--which is a problem for authors whose only way to regain use of copyright is a reversion clause. If a publisher chooses to be a pain in the butt, they can say the book's always available via PoD, thus never out of print, thus reversion never happens. My guess is that most publishers aren't quite that evil (when I finally reached the right person at the Big Commercial Publishing company that wound up owning rights to most of my pre-ALA-Editions books, all more than a decade old, none returning any royalties for years, the company returned all rights to me on my request).

Too bad the Eldred Act never got any traction; it was a sensible, if perhaps too modest, way to solve the "orphan works" problem and start moving huge quantities of material into the public domain while allowing Big Media to hold onto their cash cows. (Quick summary: 50 years automatic copyright; then, the copyright owner must register and pay a nominal sum, maybe $1 or $10, to renew copyright for ten more years...and that process can go on indefinitely or until other copyright terms end, whichever comes first. I'd be happier with 28 years as the initial term...but Eldred and Lawrence Lessig were trying for the most-passable/least-ambitious approach. Big Media killed it dead. For now.)