• http://paisleychick.livejournal.com Beatrice M

    Go Glen – that was awesome. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are enjoying your time “off”.

  • Janet

    Hi folks

    Earning through being able to generate quality math concepts and making them freely available for peer review and use has been a traditional academic business model?
    It attracts other good minds to the same locus?
    It makes that locus more authoritative?

    The story of the author in the copyright based context in the British Council publication follows the same approximate journey with the opposite subtext.

    The Mores (or The Moors),1 one of many poems written by John Clare about the effects of enclosure in the second decade of the 19th century on Helpston, the Northamptonshire village that was his home until 1832, was unpublished in Clare’s lifetime. It opens with a glimpse of an ‘unbounded’, pre-lapsarian landscape, where the cattle may wander at will to the ‘wild pasture as their common right’, as does the poem’s narrative, with very little grammar or punctuation to hamper its progress.

    Clare once wrote to his long-suffering editor and publisher, John Taylor, protesting, ‘grammar in learning is like tyranny in government – confound the bitch I’ll never be her slave and have a vast good mind not to alter the verse in question . . .’. There were many protracted negotiations between editor and poet. Taylor continued to correct Clare’s spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary, and curb his use of dialect. As the mediator between the ‘peasant poet’ and his literary marketplace, Taylor’s revisions usually prevailed. Setting aside the odd row over the political cuts of ‘radical slang’ exacted by Clare’s patron, Lord Radstock, Clare wished to please the man whose literary and commercial judgments shaped his career from the publication of Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery in 1820 to The Rural Muse in 1835. But relations between poet and publisher broke down in the years that followed. Clare was first admitted into an asylum in 1837, and spent the last 23 years of his life ‘trapped’ in Northampton General Lunatic Asylum where he died in 1864.

    During this period he wrote some of his best poetry, leaving behind an unwieldy mass of manuscript material. At his death his four published volumes contained only a tenth of the 3,000 poems written by this finest and most prolific of English rural poets. Under the 1842 Copyright Act in force at Clare’s death, three of the volumes came out of copyright in 1871, and the last in 1877. Under common law, John Taylor, as the author’s trustee, retained control over his unpublished work. In 1864, Taylor seems to have made a bargain with the publisher Joseph Whitaker, recognised in the Dictionary of National Biography as ‘an authority upon copyright’, to transfer these publication and manuscript rights to him in exchange for modest support for Clare’s widow and children. None of the many editions of Clare’s work in the 70 years after Whitaker’s death in 1895 acknowledged any general copyright holder. In 1965, however, Professor Eric Robinson, a historian at the
    University of Massachusetts, claimed to have purchased the copyright to all Clare’s unpublished writings in the possession of Whitaker’s publishing house for £1. For the next 40 years, his Oxford editions have dominated Clare scholarship.

    As in those other high-profile cases where single individuals control the posthumous publications of major literary figures such as James Joyce and Sylvia Plath, problems began to emerge. At first, there was a welcome for the ‘authenticity’ of the Oxford editions, the moral guardianship and heroic editorial labours involved. But gradually
    scholars began to complain, not only at the expense, delays and frustrations that arose as Robinson demanded acknowledgement of his claim, but also because of what they saw as the deadening hand of the authorised ‘definitive version’. The Oxford editions have favoured a
    so-called ‘textual primitivism’, which seeks to preserve the manuscript untrammelled, with all its misspellings and erratic punctuation intact.

    We currently live in a context where the systemic use of copyright or intellectual property as the only means of monetising innovative works makes it easy to feel that the caricature of the math chappy and his mum are the only alternative. We have had alternative systems of value before. We need a system which values the freedom to innovate as well as the freedom for innovators to benefit. Currently the laws being introduced benefit neither group in the interests of systems of brokers who fear that a distributed internet enables us to create and monetise without them.

    Perhaps in a world where the authors/innovators are able to monetise a larger percentage of the profits per sale through distributed publishing practice and technologies, there would be a viable balance between profit and public access in a shorter term of copyright such as 10years. Reducing the length of time that copyright restricts public dialogue means that the innovator is still provided the opportunity to be the authoritative or primary source for the idea and to profit from that, but that the idea and its implications are able to generate new value for the wider community without prejudice in a useful period of time. Both public and innovator win. Brokers dont want these options because for them innovation is a golden egg they purchase, they do not have an interest in the capacity to generate more competing eggs. Fewer eggs with more merchandise or leverage are in their best interests.

    Brokers are adjusting law in their own interests. They are burning both the innovator and users of information in the process because both groups are potential threats.
    The only non-threat is an existing asset owned by a broker which can be fenced and monetised.

    Brokers provide packaging and distribution. This kind of power is an interesting authority to gift the agencies who wrap innovative works and post them about.

  • Dave

    Glenn — you’ve shown me the meaning of success.

  • NA

    grigori, i love you!