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Professor Wins $240K In Fair Use Dispute 150

Posted by kdawson
from the happy-bloomsday dept.
pickens writes "In a victory for Fair Use, Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project has announced that the estate of 20th century literary giant James Joyce, author of the landmark novel Ulysses, has agreed to pay $240,000 in attorneys' fees to Stanford University Consulting Professor Carol Shloss and her counsel in connection with Shloss's lawsuit to establish her right to use copyrighted material in her scholarship on the literary work of James Joyce. When Shloss used copyrighted materials in her biography of Joyce's daughter Lucia, titled Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, she had to excise a substantial amount of source material from the book in response to threats from the Joyce Estate. However following publication of the book, Shloss sued the Estate to establish her right to publish the excised material. The parties reached a settlement regarding the issue in 2007, permitting the publication of the copyrighted material in the US. Following the settlement, Shloss asked the Court to order the Estate to pay attorneys' fees of more than $400,000. She has now agreed to accept an immediate payment of $240,000 in return for the dismissal of the Estate's appeal. 'This case shows there are solutions to the problem Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation,' says Fair Use Project Executive Director Anthony Falzone, who led the litigation team."
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Professor Wins $240K In Fair Use Dispute

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  • When Shloss used copyrighted materials in her biography of Joyce's daughter Lucia, titled Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, she had to excise a substantial amount of source material from the book in response to threats from the Joyce Estate.

    Copyright was used to get the material out of the book but was that the motive? I know little of Lucia Joyce despite being a big fan of James Joyce. And a lot of what was in the New Yorker's well written lengthy article was news to me. At the bottom of the second page they state that Carol Shloss believes Lucia's insanity and mental instability was mishandled or even cruelly worsened by many actions. And that as Joyce worked tirelessly to finish Finnegan's Wake, he had to rely on others and institutions to take care of his delicate daughter. Shloss concludes that Lucia was a price paid for one of the greatest books written. And then the interesting part:

    But, as Shloss tells it, the silencing of Lucia went further than that. Her story was erased. After Joyce's death, many of his friends and relatives, in order to cover over this sad (and reputation-beclouding) episode, destroyed Lucia's letters, together with Joyce's letters to and about her. Shloss says that Giorgio's son, Stephen Joyce, actually removed letters from a public collection in the National Library of Ireland. When Brenda Maddox's biography of Nora was in galleys, Maddox was required to delete her epilogue on Lucia in return for permission to quote various Joyce materials.

    Shloss claims go so far as to state that Lucia was a pioneering artist squashed and erased from history by her relatives. The New Yorker sounds dubious to Shloss' claims and she has little evidence. It's possible that the Joyce Estate would rather keep Lucia under wraps and un-speculated about ... and the only route they had to suppress this work was copyright. I do not think censorship is copyright's intended use and that may very well be why this case failed. Although it's often misused like this, this in no way seems to have any motivation to protect the original copyright holder and their designated livelihood from their art.

    Would you think less of Joyce if you agreed that he sacrificed the mental stability and well being of his daughter to complete a novel? Would you think less of him if it was confirmed that he had contracted syphilis or that that is what caused him to go blind? Or that he wrote dirty letters to his wife? All these things may or may not be true. James Joyce was very human and I think this may be a case of his estate attempting to keep private matters about his daughter Lucia private.

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:33PM (#29584439) Journal
      These allegations, if true, might well change my opinion of James Joyce. They would change my opinions of Finnegan's Wake and Ulysses not one whit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Would you think less of Joyce if you agreed that he sacrificed the mental stability and well being of his daughter to complete a novel?

      Heck, I sacrifice the mental stability and well being of my own daughter all the time, merely for my own amusement... We even gave her mental blocks for Xmas!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NoYob (1630681)
      As noted in a post below, the estate is really Joyce's grandson. Guessing, he may have used the copyright law to try to keep some embarrassing family "issues" out of the spot light.

      I don't know about you guys, but I'd be a bit hesitant to have my family's issues put in the spot light - even if the perpetrators are long dead: J. Joyce died 68 years ago. Yeah, Joyce is dead, but his grandson has got to live with these things now.

      Just a guess as to his motives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dragonslicer (991472)
        I would think much less of someone that judged a person by the actions of a grandparent that's been dead for the better part of a century. I can understand the grandson's concern, since there are such ridiculous people out there, but it's still a sad thought to have.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:53PM (#29584683)

      Would you think less of Joyce if you agreed that he sacrificed the mental stability and well being of his daughter to complete a novel? Would you think less of him if it was confirmed that he had contracted syphilis or that that is what caused him to go blind? Or that he wrote dirty letters to his wife? All these things may or may not be true.

      None of them would in anyway cause me to think less of James Joyce, but then there is very little that could. I remember in 7th or 8th grade my English teacher went over the elements that made for a good novel. My English teacher the following year told me what a great writer James Joyce was because he didn't include any of those elements. I've never understood why he is considered a great writer.

      • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:59PM (#29584771) Journal

        None of them would in anyway cause me to think less of James Joyce, but then there is very little that could. I remember in 7th or 8th grade my English teacher went over the elements that made for a good novel. My English teacher the following year told me what a great writer James Joyce was because he didn't include any of those elements. I've never understood why he is considered a great writer.

        Have you tried reading his books?

    • Copyright is the government-backed enforcement of "you're not allowed to say that, because I said it first."

      By definition, copyright is the antithesis of free speech. There is no either/or here - copyright *is* censorship.

      • Copyright is the government-backed enforcement of "you're not allowed to say that, because I said it first."

        How does such retarded tripe get modded up? Did you RTFS? She copy/pasted a large portion of the book, and copycatting is very different from "saying it first/second".

        By definition, copyright is the antithesis of free speech. There is no either/or here - copyright *is* censorship.

        More blatantly false rubbish. Free speech does not give one a blanket right to abuse/use other people's property for p

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mathinker (909784)

          > How does such retarded tripe get modded up?

          Well, at least yours hasn't been, yet.

          > ... other people's property ...

          And since when does does other people's "property" rights expire after a certain time after they die? You play the "property" card badly. There is property, and then there is property [blogspot.com].

          You should read the entirety of that blog. Not just the post I linked to.

          > Copyright ensures that people who can write good books get paid so
          > they don't have to find a real job working in a supermark

        • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @08:53PM (#29587639) Homepage

          She copy/pasted a large portion of the book, and copycatting is very different from "saying it first/second".

          No, I think you're just misunderstanding the earlier poster. By 'saying it second' he likely means repeating what someone else has said by copying from them, as opposed to independently saying what coincidentally happens to be the same thing.

          Free speech does not give one a blanket right to abuse/use other people's property for personal benefit without permission or payment.

          Well, I'd dispute the use of the word 'property' there. Let's stick with 'creative works,' in which case, yes, that's precisely the sort of thing that a right of free speech has to do with. For example, if I have a copy of Shakespeare's plays, and I can abuse them by bowdlerizing them, or I can use them by performing them verbatim, or even just reprinting them and selling copies. My right of free speech permits me to do this, regardless of the fact that I didn't write those plays. I don't need permission, and I don't need to pay.

          When we grant copyrights, we are temporarily ceding part of our right of free speech. Given how dreadfully important free speech is, surely we wouldn't make such a grant lightly. Nor would we likely do so unless there were some public purpose which was better served by making the grant than by not, and where the size of the grant served that purpose better than a grant of some greater or lesser size.

          What purpose do you think would be so important as to justify this? How might we fine-tune copyright so as to best serve that purpose?

          A hint: The public purpose is very direct, very self-serving; the means of promoting it is very indirect, however, and may benefit others in the process.

          These authors spend several years of their lives creating these novels and many decades mastering the art and craft of writing.

          Well, they're not obligated to. If an author can crank out a brilliant novel in the space of a week, with no practice at all, he is no more and no less deserving of a copyright than any other author. Copyright law doesn't care about how much work an author does. In fact, the Constitution prohibits rewarding an author with a copyright merely for his hard work.

          And just like doctors or lawyers, they want a fair return on that investment.

          Oh, I'd be perfectly happy getting an unfairly large reward on no investment at all. Don't feel troubled to do otherwise on my account. ;)

          Copyright ensures that people who can write good books get paid so they don't have to find a real job working in a supermarket or other manual labor.

          Copyright ensures no such thing. It encourages authors to create works of all levels of quality with the hope that, if a particular work is popular, the copyright on that work can be exploited to make money. There's no policy in favor of good works over bad; the government cannot and should not make such decisions. There's no guarantee that an author will make money; a good, but unpopular work can be a flop, and authors can always mismanage their affairs. And certainly no end of authors have had to work at real jobs.

    • by Clovis42 (1229086)

      Or that he wrote dirty letters to his wife?

      What, what, what?? Dirty letters? Surely you don't mean the James Joyce that wrote Ulysses, right? I couldn't imagine such an updstanding author as Joyce sullying his reputation with dirty letters.

      Hmm... that reminds me, I really should finish Ulysses. I just got to the last chapter!

    • Interesting post.

      Copyright used to censor information? I'm sure that was Not the original intent ("to promote useful arts"). That's using copyright to Demote the arts via silencing the mouth of the author as if she/he was a slave. I also find the Fair Use Project's claims dubious. Did not capitulate? That's exactly what she did when she excised major pieces of her book.

      If I was accused of copyright infringement, I'd try to work with the owners and satisfy their request, but I would not censor my main t

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)

        Not the original intent ("to promote useful arts").

        A minor nit: Copyrights are meant to promote the progress of science. The useful arts is what patents are meant to promote the progress of. 'Science' back in the late 18th century, meant something more like general knowledge. The useful arts, however, meant applied technology, basically. You can still see some hints of the latter meaning, in that patents protect state of the art technology, where the inventions are useful (an invention that doesn't work, l

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      I do not think censorship is copyright's intended use and that may very well be why this case failed.

      I don't know what copyright's intended use is in other countries, but the US Constitution spells it out. Article 1, section 8 [cornell.edu] says "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"

      Too bad our legislators (and the Supreme Court, considering the Eldred decision) [wikipedia.org] hold the Constitution in

  • Strange (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digsbo (1292334)
    That the first college professor I studied under in college who appeared on /. was from the lit program rather than CS.
  • The Good Fight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:29PM (#29584403)

    This case shows there are solutions to the problem Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation

    Yes - the solution is to be lucky enough to find a lawyer that's willing allow their bill to get up to $400,000 but settle for $240,000 just so they can fight a legal battle that shouldn't be in front of the courts anyways. Almost half a million to fight a battle in which she was obviously right? It's wrong that that fight occurred at all... Thank goodness her lawyer was willing to go the distance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by value_added (719364)

      Yes - the solution is to be lucky enough to find a lawyer that's willing allow their bill to get up to $400,000 but settle for $240,000

      Or instead of a lawyer, hire this guy [yahoo.com].

    • Lucky? Who needs luck? It's a rare person indeed that can't afford to go out on a half-million dollar limb to sue for the right to fair use of a dead person's work...
    • Yes - the solution is to be lucky enough to find a lawyer that's willing allow their bill to get up to $400,000 but settle for $240,000

      When it's the opponent paying, you can be sure that all the legal expenses are padded to the max in anticipation of the judge lowering them.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:31PM (#29584421)

    I understand how hard it was for him to write his books. After all, it's not every author who decides to chuck the whole language and invent his own (I'm looking at you, Tolkien).

    Anyway, here's some background for anyone unfamiliar with Joyce's works.
    Wikipedia [wikia.com]

    • I understand how hard it was for him to write his books. After all, it's not every author who decides to chuck the whole language and invent his own (I'm looking at you, Tolkien).

      Anyway, here's some background for anyone unfamiliar with Joyce's works. Wikipedia [wikia.com]

      First off, Tolkien didn't chuck the language and invent his own. He invented at least six.

      Secondly, I didn't find his linguistic games to intrude on the story. They made it feel more realistic, if anything, because they gave you a sense of the difference. I've read plenty of scifi where the invented languages hurt the story's flow, or sometimes nearly halted it entirely. (There was an early CJ Cherryh novel where she'd sometimes manage to include two nouns and one verb in a made-up language in a single

  • by NoYob (1630681) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:32PM (#29584433)
    A lo and behold, the "estate" is really Joyce's grandson [wikipedia.org].

    Not everyone is eager to expand upon academic study of Joyce, however; Stephen Joyce, James' grandson and sole beneficiary owner of the estate, has been alleged to have destroyed some of the writer's correspondence,[49] threatened to sue if public readings were held during Bloomsday,[50] and blocked adaptations he felt were 'inappropriate'.[51] On 12 June 2006, Carol Schloss, a Stanford University professor, sued the estate and prevailed for refusing to give permission to use material about Joyce and his daughter on the professor's website.

    I have no public comment other than I guess this is what the current copyright laws have brought us and I'm not sure if this is what the founders had in mind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tyler Eaves (344284)

      So how exactly do you think these things normally work? That there are magic estate management companies or something?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Why should there be an Estate? James Joyce is dead, he's had his incentive to create literary works. His son doesn't need his father's incentive, the ability for him to create his own, copyrighted work is his incentive. Time to give James' works to the public, where they belong.
    • A lo and behold, the "estate" is really Joyce's grandson [wikipedia.org].

      Not everyone is eager to expand upon academic study of Joyce, however; Stephen Joyce, James' grandson and sole beneficiary owner of the estate, has been alleged to have destroyed some of the writer's correspondence,[49] threatened to sue if public readings were held during Bloomsday,[50] and blocked adaptations he felt were 'inappropriate'.[51] On 12 June 2006, Carol Schloss, a Stanford University professor, sued the estate and prevailed for refusing to give permission to use material about Joyce and his daughter on the professor's website.

      I have no public comment other than I guess this is what the current copyright laws have brought us and I'm not sure if this is what the founders had in mind.

      How about stop buying Joyce's books?

      There are plenty of other books to read and study.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by denobug (753200)

        How about stop buying Joyce's books?

        There are plenty of other books to read and study.

        Please tell that to the English teachers!

  • Some solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by residieu (577863) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:38PM (#29584495)

    'This case shows there are solutions to the problem Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation,' says Fair Use Project Executive Director Anthony Falzone, who led the litigation team

    Yes, there are solutions. If you can afford to put out $400k in lawyers fees upfront, and then only receive $240k of that back for a $160k loss.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:45PM (#29584589) Journal
    I mean, seriously. My regular rates.

    Oh, and, of course there's this [xkcd.com] to back me up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AndersOSU (873247)

      A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is really good and mostly readable (you might want to skip over the 20 page Miltonian sermon in the middle). I tried to read Ulysses and gave up about a third of the way through. I occasionally come across a copy of Finnegan's Wake flip through it and read a few random passages - bizarre is the only word I can use to describe it.

    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:47PM (#29585323)
      I'm amazed at the people who will read about fantasy or imaginary worlds and yet balk at Ulysses.
      For the ignorant, Ulysses is about a day in the life of Dublin as seen through the eyes of a Jewish advertising salesman (Leopold Bloom) and the young James Joyce (Stephen Dedalus). It covers everything from the red light area through to the literary and medical world around Trinity College. You have to learn a bit about Ireland in the early 20th Century to understand it. It helps to have a copy of Harry Blamires' Bloomsday Book if you aren't up on Irish history and the geography of Dublin. Ulysses is written in perfectly good English without made up words, in different literary styles (part of it is a play) loosely organised on the return of Ulysses from the Trojan War. Bloom is Ulysses, Dedalus is Telemachus, Molly Bloom is Penelope and the IRA doesn't get a very good Press. Real people walk in and out of the plot. And that's as much of a spoiler as I'm prepared to divulge.

      As I say, people will read Tolkien or fiction set in Ancient Rome and yet can't be bothered to spend the time - in bits, if necessary - to get to know Ulysses. But it's one of the greatest works in English of the 20th century, and if you don't try, it's your loss. Finnegans Wake (note no apostrophe) is another matter. Personally I believe the syphilis story, but also I suspect that Joyce was schizophrenic and as he got older it got more out of control. I think it's a failed experiment.

      • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @05:43PM (#29585859)
        You're surprised that people will read a fantasy book set in a fantasy world for enjoyment but wont read another fictional novel set in the "real world" that you need to have a campanion book to read or have knowledge of Dublin Ireland in the 1900's? (Something that the Irish probably don't even have).

        If you did not know, people read for enjoyment. Having to do research to understand a book does not equal enjoyment for a good majority of people as well and not getting the joke or refference.
  • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@wumpus-cav e . n et> on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:46PM (#29584607)

    'This case shows there are solutions to the problem Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation,' says Fair Use Project Executive Director Anthony Falzone, who led the litigation team."

    Yes, a solution that takes years to go through and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's a great solution, if you're a lawyer.

  • Proves my point (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:47PM (#29584611)
    I've always insisted that copyright should end with the death of the original author. This pretty much proves my point. He's DEAD... at this point, no amount of protection of his work is going to encourage him to produce more! His heirs should go out and get a real job instead of trying to live off his reputation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NoYob (1630681)
      I'd agree except for the guy who dies and leaves a window with children.

      But yeah, Joyce died 68 years ago and this is his grandson who's doing all this.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why can't authors have savings and/or life insurance like every other working stiff?

      • Disregarding for a second that a window with children should not be in control of the assets of a dead process - No. If you're a successful author, you leave an estate that consists of the money you made. If you weren't a successful author, you still leave what you earned.

        This idea that somehow creative works should sustain the livelihood of someone who didn't create them astounds and befuddles me.

        Yes, I know, I've made this comment a number of times. But the implications of this idea are too nauseating for

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LandDolphin (1202876)
          OF course, you have the situation where the Author writes a fantastic novel that would have made him million over the span of his long life, but is tragically killed by a bus before collecting on all that he should have. Not having had a chance to make money off of his works, he leaves nothing to his family and others go on to reap the rewards of his art.

          What was the original system, 20 years? Shounds good to me. No need to worry about situations like the one above and the creater of said work (or th
          • Shit happens. Not to mention that I disdain extrapolating what the future should be, and then write laws to make sure that the future matches what a completely unfounded assumption of the future looked like. These hypothetical scenarios, while heart-tugging, are ridiculous and should in no way be used to create laws that apply to everybody.

            I like fixed, limited copyright terms. I proposed 14 years elsewhere, I can live 20. I find the current system an abomination, and a destruction of cultural works. Disney

          • by grcumb (781340)

            OF course, you have the situation where the Author writes a fantastic novel that would have made him million over the span of his long life, but is tragically killed by a bus before collecting on all that he should have. Not having had a chance to make money off of his works, he leaves nothing to his family and others go on to reap the rewards of his art.

            Um, how about she sues the bus company for wrongful death/negligence/whatever, and collects from them the unrealised earnings? They would, after all, be ea

      • I can also see some cases where you might want to provide copyright protection for ten years or so after the death of the author if the work is less than five years after the date of publication. Or similar numbers.

        This would prevent publishers from having to take out life insurance on the author and would "allow" the publication of works that are published after death. "John Doe's Cancer Journal", "Diary of Anne Frank", perhaps even "Bob's Translation of the Magna Carta"

        That said, current law is way to

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bzipitidoo (647217)

          Replace "provide copyright protection" with "provide" as in some sort of stipend, and I could perhaps support that. I can't see any reason to lock up an author's works in any way whatever, for any reason, certainly not the thinking that copyright must be the only way to earn a living from writing.

          The US demonstrates why doctors shouldn't earn their living under a fee for services system. We have such outrageous medical bills, and much waste with unnecessary or even harmful tests and procedures. Move th

    • Re:Proves my point (Score:5, Interesting)

      by agrippa_cash (590103) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:03PM (#29584809) Homepage
      This case illustrates the value of having copyright extend beyond the life of the author, since it was his daughter who seemed to suffer for Joyce's art. A better example is US Grant, who was near penniless and diagnosed with cancer and wrote his well regarded memoir hoping to providing for his wife and daughter.
      • by iamhigh (1252742)

        This case illustrates the value of having copyright extend beyond the life of the author, since it was his daughter who seemed to suffer for Joyce's art.

        Isn't that what an inheritance is for? Don't all kids suffer because of what their parents tried to provide for them? I remember not being able to purchase all the latest toys because my dad always wanted a computer this or that.... but those got me way further than any gi joe would have done. In the case of work released right before death, there should be a minimum time limit, such as 14 years.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        And exactly how would royalties from copyrighted works benefit his daughter? That the rest of his "estate" was able to so effectively wipe her off the face of history using the copyright cudgel seems to invalidate your point entirely.

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        Copyright should be tied to publication date, not the author's death date. This avoid both the issue of somebody dying prematurely and the issue of not being able to determine whether a work is copyrighted (because the dates of death of its authors are not known).

      • Re:Proves my point (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:23PM (#29587859) Homepage

        Well, in Grant's day -- and even up until the late 1970's -- copyrights simply lasted for a term of years, with an optional renewal. Whether the author died during the term or not was entirely irrelevant. So yes, while it is a good idea for a copyright to be able to survive the author, it is a bad idea for a copyright's term length to have anything at all to do with the life of the author.

        Better for copyrights to be predictable: they last for so many years from some initial date, such as the first publication of the work. Any unpredictable elements should a) be in the hands of the author, b) reduce the length of the copyright from the predictable maximum, rather than enlarge it. For example, we might grant a copyright for 2 years, where the copyright holder can opt renew it for another two years in the last six months, if he fills out a form and pays a token fee to indicate his interest. This could be done repeatedly up until the predictable maximum term length, at which point the copyright would expire. If the author failed to renew -- or failed to register in the first place -- the work would simply enter the public domain sooner than later.

        I think it is very wrong to think of copyrights as a means for helping widows and orphans. The stark reality is that most creative works have no copyright-related economic value whatsoever. The few that have such value usually have very little, and that is mostly had straight away, with little left to be wrung out after a span of hours to weeks to months to years. The odds of writing a book that is a long-lasting and substantial financial success are roughly on par with winning the lottery. We would be appalled, and rightly so, at anyone who suggested that a person who wanted to support his wife and children after he died should buy lottery tickets. Well, in the vast majority of cases, an author who tried to write a book to accomplish the same purpose would be just as big a fool.

        General problems -- like how to help provide for your surviving family after you have died -- demand general solutions. After all, we all face these problems, and anyway, most authors will not be able to help on the strength of their writing. A better solution than copyright to provide for widows and orphans would be saving and investing wisely, taking out life insurance policies, and promoting a social welfare system as a safety net. This way, everyone's widows and orphans can be helped out, rather than only those of successful authors.

        And as for Grant himself, let's remember, he lost his money by putting it in a Ponzi scheme. If he'd been more responsible, he would not have needed to gamble on writing a book. A book that was largely successful because he had been a prominent general and president. But we can't all be war-winning generals and presidents, so let's not pretend that widows and orphans are sound reasons for copyrights. It's just a pathetic appeal to our emotions. Copyright needs to be rational.

        • by jschrod (172610)
          Sir, just for the record: I wish I'd had mod points. This is one of the best /. comments I've read for a long time.

          Thanks, Joachim

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by coldmist (154493)

      And, what about murder? Oh, Tom Clancy wrote a great book, that I want to publish? Pay the mob to knock him off, and it's free game.

      14 years + a single 14 year renewal (if the original author is still alive and interested in it) is just fine, thank you.

      Imagine, the original Star Wars would be in the Public Domain. The early Star Trek. Battlestar Galactica. How much fun would that be to have the freedom to pit a cylon army against storm troopers in a full movie?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by AndersOSU (873247)

        on the flip side, if Lucas wasn't still making money from the original trilogy, what other horrors do you think he'd have bestowed upon us?

        • by Rary (566291)

          on the flip side, if Lucas wasn't still making money from the original trilogy, what other horrors do you think he'd have bestowed upon us?

          He would most likely be trying to create something new and original, rather than milking his old, no longer profitable, work. In other words, there'd be no prequels.

          I, for one, would be a happier Star Wars nerd.

          • by AndersOSU (873247)

            Are you sure we're talking about the same George Lucas? The guy who's last original thought was, "hey I bet I can make some money through licensing..." Aren't we also talking about the guy who decided he could write better dialog than a proper screenwriter...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aztektum (170569)

        Better solution: Copyright shouldn't run the life of the author. They shouldn't last more than 10yrs and are NOT RENEWABLE.

        Yes, I'm a bit bitter over all the bullshit coming out of the MAFIAA's corner, however... Fuck that shit. I have to have a job and can't ride on one accomplishment forever. Get over yourselves you lazy, greedy dicks.

        • I have to have a job and can't ride on one accomplishment forever.

          That's a horrible arguement. Copyright should not exsist for more than 10 years because you're a loser and have to work for a living?
      • How much fun would that be to have the freedom to pit a cylon army against storm troopers in a full movie?

        I don't think I'd want to watch a full movie of two armies that constantly and consistently miss each other.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Molochi (555357)

        Last I checked, murder was still illegal and had worse penalties than copyright infringement. Not that it couldn't happen, just that it isn't a justification.

        • If you stand to make 20M by offing some guy, that's pretty good incentive to hire a professional; most people would prefer not to have a price on their head. Additionally, setting expiry as death + N years means that it's easier to plan for expiry. You have that large buffer of time to make money and adjust your finances instead of one day finding that the books in your warehouse are no longer in copyright.
        • Murder is easier to get away with than copyright infringement.

      • Or alternatively, a static set of time starting with the creation of the work. Tom Clancy wrote a book and the mob tossed him to the fishes a day later? It's still under copyright for 14 years. His heirs get that copyright as part of the general assets.

        Tom Clancy wrote a book and the mob tosses him to the fishes 14 years later? His heirs get his money and other real assets. But not the copyright.

      • by bit01 (644603)

        And, what about murder? Oh, Tom Clancy wrote a great book, that I want to publish? Pay the mob to knock him off, and it's free game.

        This silliness keeps coming up. It's wrong because:

        1. There's no strong financial incentive. He's dead, anybody can copy/publish it. Are you really going to murder somebody so you can read something legally instead of pirating it?
        2. There are many present day situations where somebody can derive benefit from murder (e.g. inheritance, business competition). Why on earth should this
    • Re:Proves my point (Score:4, Interesting)

      by meerling (1487879) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @04:22PM (#29585029)
      Copyright was originally for 14 years. That way the authors had plenty of time to make money on their creations, but not so much that they could sit on their laurels.
      The current length of copyright is utterly insane! How does 90 years in any way encourage someone to write more? Especially after death!

      Stupid Mickey Mouse laws... (Or should that be Disney lobbied laws...)
      • by iamhigh (1252742)
        I know... let's use all the numbers so everyone is happy. You have copyright until you are 90, unless you die before that point at which time you can only continue benefits if it was less than 14 years ago... and you only get it for 14 years from that date.
      • Because if they can make money off of the one work that income should free them up to make additional works?
    • I've always insisted that copyright should end with the death of the original author. This pretty much proves my point. He's DEAD...

      he's just resting!

  • Hang on a second... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by popo (107611) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @03:55PM (#29584719) Homepage

    The author spent $400k in attorney's fees defending her right to quote Joyce in a book about Joyce's daughter?

    Is there a bigger market than I'm aware of in scholarly (slash: arcane?) books about Lucia Joyce??

    Who the hell would spend this much on this issue??

    • by gclef (96311)

      Someone trying to prove a point.

      As has been mentioned above, it's most likely the lawyer took the case pro-bono or on a percentage-of-final-settlement agreement. The author likely spent nothing, but racked up many hours of lawyer costs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Someone with the right to fair use--something you clearly don't have if you're willing to give it up because someone challenges you. The difference between her and you is she's established she has the right. You think you have it, but have demonstrated you will relinquish it in the face of a challenge.

      Good choice, bad choice--she did the right thing and should be celebrated for it.

      Sometimes you've got to take on the little fights with a big sword--just so people understand what it means to have a right.

  • by 517714 (762276)

    Personally, if it has anything to do with James Joyce; I'll wait for the Cliff Notes.

  • From TFS:

    Shloss asked the Court to order the Estate to pay attorneys' fees of more than $400,000. She has now agreed to accept an immediate payment of $240,000 in return for the dismissal of the Estate's appeal. 'This case shows there are solutions to the problem Carol Shloss faced other than simple capitulation,' says Fair Use Project Executive Director Anthony Falzone, who led the litigation team."

    Wow, so it only cost $150,000 (+) in attorneys fees so that she could establish her right to do something she should have been able to do all along? Man, our system ROCKS. Color me jaded to find irony that the head of the litigation team is the one so thrilled...

    • by nomadic (141991)
      Wow, so it only cost $150,000 (+) in attorneys fees so that she could establish her right to do something she should have been able to do all along? Man, our system ROCKS. Color me jaded to find irony that the head of the litigation team is the one so thrilled...

      Huh?? You can say that about almost any case; at the end one party is going to have been found not to been in the wrong, and they will have been out legal fees.
  • Sheesh! She could get a heart bypass and a bone marrow transplant for that much! Why don't people call for a single government payer for legal care? Isn't legal care a right? Why do people get bent out of shape when health care costs out of pocket but not legal care?
    • by JSBiff (87824)

      They are called public defenders.

      1) You only have access to public defenders when accused of a criminal violation, not a civil violationi

      2) Most public defender offices are understaffed and underpaid. Subsequently, there's lots of horror stories about how people can't get the time of day from their public defender, and at least some innocent people 'defended' by public defenders who didn't get adequate legal defense, so end up going to jail for crimes they didn't commit.

      So, maybe it's a great idea to bring

  • by CoughDropAddict (40792) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @06:02PM (#29586027) Homepage

    The stuff in the linked articles is nothing, read this: The Injustice Collector: Is James Joyce's grandson suppressing scholarship? [newyorker.com]

    Stephen Joyce to a James Joyce scholar he disagreed with: "You should consider a new career as a garbage collector in New York City, because you'll never quote a Joyce text again."

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