This is a bit misleading; there’s no particular deadline looming past which these works will be unrecoverable; it’s just the end date for this particular kickstarter campaign.
Any project set on preserving old adventure novels where heroes are attacked in the jungle by tigers hanging upside-down from the trees is okay by me.
What exactly is “Copyright limbo?” I would think it might mean a situation where a work is not public domain, but there is no living person or entity with a clear copyright, so a work can’t be reprinted by anybody without breaking the law.
But these books aren’t in that situation. What they suffer from isn’t limbo - it’s obscurity. They’re already books, and you can probably scrounge up a copy by scouring used bookstores or eBay. It’s true they aren’t available digitally, but that’s not the same thing as limbo - some of us old people can still work the organic cellulose type of book, and would be happy to show you how.
Reprinting old books in new format is kind of cool, but scaremongering doesn’t really help. If your kickstarter fails, these books aren’t headed down the Memory Hole - unless some of them belong there.
But isn’t that effectively the same thing in many cases? Generally there is someone who could reprint the books in theory, but in practice there may not be anyone who knows that they can. Until someone fixes that the books are effectively lost.
They may be lost for a reason. Whoever holds those rights may have forgotten them because nobody wants to read those books. Maybe they are boring, badly written, or in the current case, just a kind of literature that’s totally out of style.
If they were dated, but brilliant, there would be at least some market - Jane Austen is still in print, despite not being Danielle Steel. So no, in my opinion, being obscure is not the same thing as “copyright limbo” at all.
Pirates have got this, or will soon. Fund yet-to-be-realized art.
Isn’t turn of the century pulp exactly the sort of thing that should be in the public domain by now? Mining cash from 100 year old mass market pulp is a symptom of a broken copyright system.
Actually you can set the copyright in the US by the age of Mickey Mouse. Disney has spent multiple millions making sure they keep the copyrights to their icon. Every year it gets threatened Disney lobbies to get the date pushed back. I believe Steamboat Willie (the first sighting of M.Mouse) was made in 1928, so that’s the date to beat. Then it goes into public domain.
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