I had this pet project of mine involving redistribution of George Orwell’s 1984 novel. The book is freely available online on multitude of websites, and thus I assumed it was in public domain by now. My idea was to get a good plain text copy of the book, and then convert it into as many formats as possible.
I was mainly interested in producing a really solid latex version of the book with nice layout and formating, which could then be compiled into postscript, pdf and HTML versions. I also wanted to generate a Microsoft Reader version of the book (.lit format) because that’s what I usually use to read books on my Pocket PC.
All in all, it would be around 10 versions in different file formats to give people a really good choice with respect to how they want to download the book. I kinda hoped that if I could pimp the book to friends, acquaintances and strangers they might actually read it. And then they could perhaps reflect on the current state of US politics at least a tiny little bit.
But before I uploaded anything, I decided to check the status of the book to make sure I can do this. Unfortunately, 1984 will be under US Copyright untill 2044. At least that is what I found on Wikipedia. Since my host is located here in the states, it would be illegal for me to redistribute it.
1984 was published some time in 1949 so it is currently 56 years old. It will be under US copyright for another 41 years. This means that the novel will be in circulation for almost 100 years before it is allowed to slide into public domain. That’s just a best-case scenario that assumes we will not have another extension, to save Mickey Mouse.
Of course, if you happen to live in Canada, Russia or Australia you can freely redistribute the book as it is no longer under copyright protection in those countries.
Can you see what is wrong with this picture? US copyright is retarded!
[tags]1984, george orwell, copyright, public domain, ebooks, copyfight, literature[/tags]