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Publishing : Copyright and Public Domain

BardStuffBardStuff subscriber Posts: 7
edited June 2006 in Protecting Your Ideas
I`ve been trolling around trying to find an answer to this one on a number of boards, and have yet to find it.  Since I can relate it directly back to my desire to be in business, I`ll post it here as well .The question is about the line between public domain and copyright.  I`ve come across some public domain works that I think would be of great value to my market.  I`m sure they`re public domain, they`re over 100 years old, etc etc etc..  What I`d like to do is take the original source, modernize it a bit, and republish in some more modern ways (ebook, podcast, etc...)So, here`s my question.  I can find a dozen different "free" directories on the net that make this public domain stuff available.  But then they go and put their own copyright on the actual text.  I don`t think there`s anything inherently wrong with that - they`re copyrighting their version of the original, which would mean the format they chose, the typos they forgot to fix when transcribing, and so on.  But what I`m wondering is, how do I get my hands on a truly public domain document to use as the source for my own publishing efforts? I can`t simply take someone else`s copyrighted document and start hacking on it.  I figure I have a couple of options -- either take a copyrighted edition and then just modify it as to be unrecognizable from the original (don`t love that one), keep searching until I find someone who has put up a PD licensed version (not impossible - I have Shakespeare that way), or else find a paper copy and transcribe it myself (don`t love that, and besides I think the paper publication would also have a more modern copyright).  Any suggestions?Second question is, once I get my hands on the PD source, what am I really allowed to do with it?  I figure the options range quite a bit:- just republish it, as is, the same document from 100 years ago just brought into an electronic form.  This is quite common in the ebook directories, as I`ve mentioned. - "wrap" it by adding my own introductory matter and other content, but basically leave the original alone.  Call myself the author and attribute original source appropriately.- hack and slash at will.  Cut out and change what I don`t like, and insert freely.  Call myself the author, but cite the original source someplace in tiny print nobody will see   The trick here would be how you present the work and whether it`s clear to the reader that you are amending an original or if he thinks you wrote the whole thing.The first question is really the crucial one since it goes directly to legal issues, plagiarism and so on. I don`t relish the thought of Oprah tearing me a new one when I get big and famous.   As for the second question I`m trying to figure out the ethical line between the latter two options.  I definitely want to add value to the original, not just republish it, but I`m unclear when it becomes my own work (which would give me some established cred as an authority in the field) versus just a republication of the original, which anybody can do.  Thanks!


  • workfactorydaveworkfactorydave subscriber Posts: 0
    Try this link for Project Gutenberg and see if it answers your questions.

    Palari Publishing
    publishing, promotion, consultation
    Richmond, VA
  • misterwicks2006misterwicks2006 subscriber Posts: 11
    sometimes I read articles on this forum and get confused, whether its my own or someone elses(there`s alot of -i;m smart but i cannot apply the basics) - understand this - you should take meaning from what you research (yes, more than one source)and rewrite it. got it? otherwise, buy your articles already prefab. online. And, if you need to quote someone from history, see `A Writers Refernce` by Diana Hacker - make sure its the copy with spiral binder (sells for couple of dollars online + shipping) and use it as a guide to give credit where credit is due.
    also, find one of those software programs that determine your writing - there are several online that will check your documents - and report all kinds of stats. fast!
    you have to decide whether your time spent writing is more cost efficient than buying someone elses rewrite - old stuff isn`t where isn`t at anymore!! idiots today cannot handle 20,000 different words in logical format - they call it Attension Disorder!! and don`t scare them with your style
  • misterwicks2006misterwicks2006 subscriber Posts: 11
    Hello again.When you have completed a works and submitted the document online, you should include Reply-by-email request to readers. Why would this be beneficial you ask? Consider this: Microsoft offered a toll free number to it`s client base, so when there was a glitch or problem with their application they would recieved a cost-effective notification from their buyers. Now I am not saying Microsoft got its ideas from the publishing industry. However, you might ponder this method from a writer`s point of view. Don`t expect much return reponses from your readers, but it would act as a pressure release for your knowledge-base. I`ve found that the email message system on this site helpful for communicating with other people, it`s a benefit. It will do good for you, too!
    Where else would email communication work? Send a msg. through Startupnation with your suggestions. Thank You.
  • sirseysirsey subscriber Posts: 0
    Actually i have a question about publishing a reference book that is much needed in my line of business.
    How to make it available without someone stealing the idea, copyright, sell it and benefit, etc....
    i  have looked for a book like this for the past 15 years i have been in my field. so now, I would like to write it and publish it...
    the market niche is great...
     any advice.. i am a novice at this...
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