Never thought I’d see the day – welcome to the Public Domain, Mickey

I’m a few months late on this as I was still on blogging hiatus when it actually happened. but the earliest version of Mickey Mouse (The one that Disney very likely stole from another artist) is finally in the Public Domain. I guess Disney decided the lobbying dollars would be more valuable somewhere else and they didn’t get Congress to retroactively extend copyright again.

It’s all the rage lately to be a Constitutional Originalist, but what that really means is you do it when convenient. Otherwise the Supreme Court would obviously have to overturn the laws retroactively extending copyright. Copyright was meant to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” – it literally says that in the Constitution. It was supposed to give people incentive to create things that others would find useful or beautiful. Adding years to an existing copyright can’t do that – the covered work has already been created.

You can argue that extending copyright on future works would promote the progress, but that’s a different argument. It’s still wrong, but that’s an argument for another day.

Extending copyright on existing works is simply a handout to someone who already took your deal.

This is all kind of silly at this point anyway – Mickey Mouse has evolved quite a bit since 1928, with most versions are still protected, AND most of what people wanted to do with the freed Mickey were already permitted under fair use. Still, I’m happy to see this day, as I never thought I would.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the Kindle were more open

Bad news for Kindle readers, especially the less computer-savvy.

But it is worth noting at this juncture that Amazon appears to have made a business decision, at least for now, that “free” will play an increasingly limited role in the Kindle Store

Amazon certainly has a right to shift focus and resources from free and public domain books to the books they’re trying to sell.  But it’s pretty disappointing.  For many people, unfortunately, the Kindle is the ebook reader.  It’s done wonders in showing the non-technical part of the population that ebooks and readers are out there.  But it’s these very same non-technical people who are likely to get all their reading material from the Kindle store, which is of course what Amazon wants.  They’ve put up all sorts of hoops to jump through if you want to put other content on the Kindle.

And so these non-technical people are effectively cut off from public domain books, or books from other publishers who can’t or won’t play ball with Amazon’s restrictions on the Kindle.

Also disappointing is that Amazon doesn’t want to deal with free promotional titles.

The number of free promotional titles has been dwindling since August, and no new free promotional titles have been added this month despite numerous publisher requests to offer free titles.

There is no question that free promotional titles can grow your fanbase.  Two of my favorite science fiction authors reeled me in with free ebooks (here and here).  I’ve since not only bought books from them, but pre-ordered a couple.  Again, Amazon certainly has a right to do what they’re doing.  I’d just rather they chose not to.

Fortunately, it keeps plenty of room in the ebook market and the ebook reader market for others to come in and fill the holes.

Article:  Kindle Nation Daily: Honey, They’re Shrinking “Free” in the Kindle Store via Teleread.

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Amazon is surely wetting its pants now!

Google is constantly updating its library of public domain books, currently 1.5 million strong, so you should expect an ever-increasing number of books available to read both on both PCs and on your phone.

While it’s great that Google is making more and more books available in electronic format, I hardly think Amazon is worried about error-filled scans of public domain books.

Article:  Google Makes iPhone the New eBook Reader: Watch Out Kindle – PC World.

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