Without Copyrights by Robert Spoo, Oxford UP '13, $35, 384 pages, ASIN #0199927871. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
Piracy doesn't exist solely on the high seas, writes law professor Robert Spoo in his new book. "Without Copyrights tells the story of how the clashes between authors, publishers, and literary 'pirates' influenced both American copyright law and literature itself." In a brief Q&A, the author discusses the writing of Without Copyrights:
Q. Your book really centers on our longstanding conflicted relationship with so-called piracy. Is it fair to say that a good portion of the American publishing industry of today was built on a public domain that others considered blatant piracy?
A. Certainly, many major American publishers of the 19th century built their market dominance through the exploitation of uncopyrighted foreign works, and, yes, what a boon U.S. copyright law was to those firms. It gave them access to a remarkable free resource: well-known authors who had already proven their popularity abroad, and whose writings came to American shorts with free advance publicity generated by their success. While American publishers claimed they were only doing what U.S. copyright law permitted them to do, foreign authors and publishers roundly accused them of being "pirates" -- or, at best, of immorally benefitting from a system that proudly flew the skull and crossbones.
Q. One of the many modernist writers famously infuriated by U.S. copyright policy was the poet Ezra Pound -- so much so, he even proposed his own statute.
A. Ezra Pound was passionate about breaking down barriers to the international communication of ideas. At the same time, he hated literary piracy in any form and denounced U.S. copyright law for the way it encouraged the lawful piracy of foreign works. This led to a fascinating tension in his thinking, and in 1918 he proposed a new law that, on one hand, would establish a perpetual copyright for authors and, on the other, required authors and their heirs to keep works in print throughout the world, upon pain of losing some of their legal rights.
Pound was caught between two commitments: protecting authors' rights and encouraging worldwide dissemination of literature. His proposed statute, fantastic as it was in some respects, was a sincere attempt to serve both causes. It addressed a contradiction that we encounter today in our digital culture: we have the means of communicating ideas throughout the world, but inconsistent international copyright laws inhibit the lawful exercise of that ability. Pound saw a similar problem in 1918 and offered his services as a volunteer legislator.
Author Robert Spoo is Chapman Distinguished Chair at the University of Tulsa College of law, is a former professor of English, and editor of the James Joyce Quarterly.
Vanished -- The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II by Wil S. Hylton, Riverhead Books '13, $27.95, 272 pages, ASIN #1594487278. Image credits, notes, bibliography, no index, b&w images sprinkled through text.
The term MIA (missing in action) most often signifies to the current generation the Vietnam War. But, as author Wil S. Hylton writes in his debut offering, 73,000 soldiers not only suffered that fate after World War II but still today "remain shrouded in mystery....," including "those of eleven men whose massive bomber, the 453, disappeared without a trace over the Pacific archipelago of Palau on Sept. 1, 1944.
From the dust jacket:
"For sixty years, the U.S. government, the children of the missing men, and a maverick team of scientists and scuba divers searched the islands for clues. They trolled the water with side-scan sonar, conducted grid searches on the seafloor, crawled through thickets of mangrove and poison trees, and flew over the islands in small planes to shoot infrared photography. With every new clue they found, the mystery only deepened.
"Now, in a spellbinding narrative, Wil S. Hylton weaves together with true story of the missing men, their final mission, the families they left behind, and the real reason their disappearance remained shrouded in secrecy for so long. This is a story of love, loss, sacrifice, and faith -- of the undying hope among the families of the missing, and the relentless determination of scientists, explorers, archaeologists, and deep-sea divers to solve one of the enduring mysteries of World War II."
Author Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Baltimore.
Elizabeth of York -- A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir, Ballantine Books '13, $30, 572 pages, ASIN #0345521366.
From the front cover:
"Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry's mother and Elizabeth's grandmother, spanned one of England's most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured he survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.
"Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers, the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down. She and her siblings were declared bastards.
Author Alison Weir has written numerous historical biographies and several novels. She lives in Surrey, England, with her husband.