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CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: O'Nolan (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2009 08:57PM
Anyone know the status of CAS's short stories in regards to them being in the Public Domain? A lot of them are printed here which leads me to believe at least a few of them are but I also heard that Arkham House has the copyright to all of his stories. If anyone could enlighten me, it would be appreciated. Thanks.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2009 12:22AM
There is an active Smith literary estate that has been tremendously supportive of my efforts, so I in turn support them. They're easy to deal with, except for gaming purposes (the agent for the Estate has been burned in the past with gaming proposals).

Scott

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2009 10:03AM
Quote:
They're easy to deal with, except for gaming purposes.

Bravo to them! The last thing CAS's reputation needs is to be vulgarized by a spate of gaming, as has happened to poor Lovecraft.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: O'Nolan (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2009 03:34PM
Thanks, Scott. I'm writing a story and wanted to use the names of a few deities from CAS's works but didn't want to infringe on any copyrights associated with them. Too many works out there reference Lovecraft, but not CAS and, as an homage (it's an homage if the story is good but a ripoff if it's bad, isn't that how it works? :)), I wanted to show some respect for what has come before. It's nice to hear his estate has control of his properties. Hate to see another Superman fiasco, where DC comics and the heirs of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegal are still fighting it out in court. What a mess. Thanks again.

And Kyberean, agreed! It would be worse than seeing a game based on Watchman. Oh wait . . .

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2009 11:15PM
Technically, and this is not a contradiction, everything of CAS is in domain, except for example, editorial comments in anthologies by other authors, and the works in previously unpublished works such as Joshi's "Black Diamonda" and my "Sword of Zagan" - nevertheless, as Scott suggests, out of deference to the inheritors of the estate, we all take a dim view of anyone running roughshod over the corpus Astoniana (!) -- I can assure that Clark would not mind reference to his deities at all, but would be rather flattered - footnotes, or better, and appendix of terms, would be a kindness.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2009 08:09PM
But what about the corrected versions of Smith's stories as presented in the Night Shade Books series? Doesn't this count as an original work? It seems a shame if these "director's cut" versions are in the public domain, considering the years of labor Scott Connors and Ron Hilger put into the project.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: deuce (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2009 01:02AM
Ken K. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But what about the corrected versions of Smith's
> stories as presented in the Night Shade Books
> series? Doesn't this count as an original work?
> It seems a shame if these "director's cut"
> versions are in the public domain, considering the
> years of labor Scott Connors and Ron Hilger put
> into the project.

It's my understanding (due to years of reading Paul Herman's posts on the REH forum) that such new versions are NOT "public domain". Changing just a few words (as JRRT did in the '60s for "LotR") makes for something entirely new, legally.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2009 05:25AM
This is a very complex matter. Logically, the closer the texts are to the originals, the more public they should be (if I may say so), if the originals are public domain. However, when someone makes numerous choices between different versions in order to establish something considered as more faithful to the spirit of the author, this series of choices may well be considered as a whole as an adaptation, an original work. Nevertheless, the work done should always be taken into account one way or anoter, you are right.

Phil

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2009 12:42PM
There is additionally, the matter of two different editors, reading (or misreading) CAS spelling of one of his invented names - his handwriting, even in the earliest works is open to misreading since, for example, in his haste he might often have a long line between letters - "r"s and "n"s are often confusing to read - the letters themselves are occasionally stretched -
Interesting side-note - in working with the "Zagan" manuscripts, it was truly remarkable to see how little correction he had made, and the complete absence of spelling errors (though some spellings were deliberately archaic)-- and this from a boy between 10 and 16! Again, however, to repeat for the author of this thread - I am sure you are safe in using deity and demon names - some of which are not original with Clark anyway.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: groovista (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2009 10:59AM
What is the protocol for requesting permission?

I'm interested in writing some short film/TV adaptations.


Groovium :: optical alchemy

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2009 02:23PM
Ken K. Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But what about the corrected versions of Smith's
> stories as presented in the Night Shade Books
> series? Doesn't this count as an original work?
> It seems a shame if these "director's cut"
> versions are in the public domain, considering the
> years of labor Scott Connors and Ron Hilger put
> into the project.

Damn straight skippy! If somebody wants to reprint CAS w/o going through the estate, they had better be using old WEIRD TALES texts--the versions Ron and I are indeed protected. (And I don't have a financial interest in this, since I did the texts on a "hired work" basis.)

BTW, simply referencing CAS's place names, Gods, books, even characters like Satampra Zeiros or Philip Hastane would probably be okay, although once again, it's simply good manners to ask.

Scott

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2009 02:25PM
groovista Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What is the protocol for requesting permission?
>
> I'm interested in writing some short film/TV
> adaptations.
>
>
> Groovium :: optical alchemy

Contact me offline and I'll forward your request. Be detailed regarding your proposal: amateur or professional, commercial release or film festival circuit, DTV or theatrical, etc.
Scott

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 06:56PM
small note not really connected to this thread, but relevant to my entry -- In the extant manuscripts, I have not noted before, but Clark's handwriting in cursive script was exceptionally good -- he was from an era that taught "handwriting" using the "Palmer Method", (repeating 'push-pulls' and circles, with the form arm at rest, and serving as a fulcrum for moving the arm back and forth while the pen is held in one position - in contrast to the movement of the fingers in using the pen)
clark had mastered this very early, and only in one of my signed books, his first, is the signature stilted and not "dashed off" - while the contemporary note to me, was the unaffected hand he used in the '60's, - this along with his spelling skills speaks well indeed for the limited time he spent in an actual classroom - he shunned the typewriter almost entirely, and, if alive today, would almost certainly not have been computer literate - the act of writing for him had a highly "tactile" dimension - I mentioned a friend and author,"Bertha Damon" in my memoir, her method was to write by hand, and stitch or glue the pages together so she had in essence a "scroll" - she said that it helped her to look back more easily and recall what she had said previously and maintain the thread of the story more effectively - most authors have some peculiarity to their approach to the art, sometimes almost amounting to a superstition -- "if I don't perform the ritual just so, the daemon won't come"

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: fenrix (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2012 10:57PM
I'm asking on behalf of a fiction podcast for advice to obtain audio publication rights for some Clark Ashton Smith stories. I understand that the estate appreciates being asked, even if the stories are in the public domain. I also understand from these forums that JABberwocky is the agent for Clark Ashton Smith, and was wondering if there was anyone in particular you would recommend approaching in a particular fashion.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Erinys (IP Logged)
Date: 28 March, 2012 05:20PM
The fact that Nightshade Books has published a restored version of an old story does not remove that work from the public domain. A restored work is the textbook definition of a "derivative work", and derivative works are covered by the original copyright. Period.

For this reason, editors and scholars who restore works which were mutilated prior to publication (often thanks to magazine editors who were forced to edit stories for length or non-Constitutional laws that forced magazines to censor their content in order to be shipped in the US mail) do not thus appropriate the work and create a new copyright and date of publication for that work.

While this sort of restorative scholarship is undoubtedly worthwhile, it is very much a PUBLIC service, in that others cannot be legally prevented from benefiting from the restored work if it already lies in the public domain.

This begs the question, of course: why would anyone who actually claims to respect or revere the work of Clark Ashton Smith want to try and force more inferior versions of Clark Ashton Smith's stories to circulate widely, while superior versions are kept to a minimum of circulation? I cannot see any positive purpose that this would serve. Although it would be VERY typical of what we might loosely call "Arkham House" fandom--that is, the process by which illegally asserted privileges are reserved by a few greedy people at the expense of a deceased author, the reading public, and the larger world of letters.

For the record, the copyright for the majority of Smith's short stories does lie presently in the public domain. The vast majority of Clark Ashton Smith's work was published in pulp magazines and anthologies and these works are in the public domain because the stories were FIRST published between 1923 and 1977 and their copyrights were not renewed. Derivative works based on these published works, including restorations, are also public domain works by definition. They are not protected by a new copyright.

Only three copyright renewals can be proved to exist for Clark Ashton Smith's entire corpus.

Nero and Other Poems was published in 1937 and properly renewed. Any previously unpublished works held within the book will lapse completely into the public domain in 2032 under current copyright law.

Out of Space and Time was published in 1942 and properly renewed. Any previously unpublished works within the book will be under copyright until 2034, which is the final date of expiration for all CAS work still under copyright.

Lost Worlds was published in 1944. Any previously unpublished works within the book will be under copyright until 2034, which is the final date of expiration for all CAS work still under copyright.

All works of Clark Ashton Smith which were UNPUBLISHED prior to his death will also be protected until 2034 under the present standing international laws. Unless multi-national corporations are able to author and force through yet more laws to encroach upon the intellectual commons, of course, which is really what all the "extension of term" changes have been about--this is why they are called "Mickey Mouse Laws" by their opponents.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 29 March, 2012 04:19AM
Erinys Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A restored work
> is the textbook definition of a "derivative work",
> and derivative works are covered by the original
> copyright. Period.
>

Would that mean that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea-Monsters are public domain? They are derivative, and copyright on the original works has lapsed.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 29 March, 2012 05:22AM
Yes, good point, there is much more about this. Whatever work is done afterwards, there is no reason why the additional work or even the resulting work itself, to a certain extant, couldn't be considered under (new) copyright. It is a complex matter.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 29 Mar 12 | 05:27AM by Chipougne.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Erinys (IP Logged)
Date: 29 March, 2012 01:31PM
Please don't be deliberately obtuse. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" contains a good deal of new content, written by a new author(s), which changes the character and content of the total completely. It is protected not only by copyright but by the laws that protect satire, much like "Bored of the Rings" and other works that exist to deliberately satirize a classic work of fiction.

A restored version of Clark Ashton Smith, on the other hand, contains no new content; all content within the document was produced by the exact same author, in roughly the same time period, and if anything the restored story is simply the best-guess version of the version that author intended to publish in the first place.

It is not a complex matter, it is actually quite a simple matter. The only people who have a reason to make it complex are those who wish to keep Clark Ashton Smith and his works as their personal property.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Chipougne (IP Logged)
Date: 29 March, 2012 02:11PM
Please don't be deliberately agressive. It is indeed a complex matter: try and publish any restored version of any PD author without the authorization of those who often spent a considerable amount of time on it after the said work had been available for decades under a truncated version and see what happens. They don't print that (c) sign on it for the sake of adornment, you know.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 29 March, 2012 02:29PM
Erinys Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Please don't be deliberately obtuse.

Please don't be deliberately condescending.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Erinys (IP Logged)
Date: 29 March, 2012 02:54PM
Placing the copyright symbol on a work is an assertion of control and property rights, to be certain. But like any flag planted in the sand, its legitimacy is not determined by the mere assertion of the right. Legal rights have to have a legal basis. If there is no legal basis to a claim of ownership, it will not stand.

I cannot simply walk into your house, rearrange your furniture, and then call the house "mine" because of "all my hard work rearranging all this furniture". If the house is yours, and the furniture is yours, and all of my hard work amounts to nothing more than the rearrangement of your property, then my staking of a claim is not legitimate. In this case, the house is Clark Ashton Smith's, and the furniture is Clark Ashton Smith's, and the copyright is Clark Ashton Smith's. If his copyright has lapsed into the public domain, the story belongs there legally, and no amount of rearrangement of the text will change that.

Copyright laws can appear complex, to be certain, to those who have no experience and no information about them. They can also be made to SEEM complex by those who have an ulterior motive. There is a very long history of this sort of behavior in Weird Fiction fandom and publishing, Lovecraft being the most famous victim. Derleth was notorious for his shrieking claims to copyright and his threats of legal action, driving away other publishers who intended to present Lovecraft's stories to the public for no real reason other than to protect his right to profit. Whether his jealously and illegally asserted exclusive rights to re-print and his toxic "posthumous collaborations" are a legacy that CAS scholars wish to emulate is obviously up to them.

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 30 March, 2012 05:01AM
Erinys Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>>
> A restored version of Clark Ashton Smith, on the
> other hand, contains no new content; all content
> within the document was produced by the exact same
> author, in roughly the same time period, and if
> anything the restored story is simply the
> best-guess version of the version that author
> intended to publish in the first place.

Or it is a previously unpublished version in which case it would presumably be protected by the law regulating posthumously published works?

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 30 March, 2012 09:53AM
Martinus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Erinys Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Please don't be deliberately obtuse.
>
> Please don't be deliberately condescending.


Now, now children, play nicely -

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: Erinys (IP Logged)
Date: 30 March, 2012 01:29PM
Martinus Wrote:
> Or it is a previously unpublished version in which
> case it would presumably be protected by the law
> regulating posthumously published works?

The laws that protect posthumously published works protect work that is new to the public. A story which was submitted to a magazine for publication in one form and published in a slightly altered form does not qualify as new to the public.

It would appear that the basics of intellectual property law are not common knowledge nowadays! But I suppose this is not surprising. These laws have been dramatically re-written in recent years and pushed through around the world, but especially in English-speaking countries, to protect the interests of giant media conglomerates. Many intellectual properties were in danger of lapsing into the public domain if the law was not dramatically revised.

If it were not for these Mickey Mouse laws, Clark Ashton Smith's works, along with those of Hemingway and many other important authors would have become the property of the entire human race on January 1st of this year, and there would be no need to argue the "complexities" of the subject any further. As it stands, the public appears to be deliberately misinformed and confused about these matters, presumably to keep them from fighting for the rights that they could have once taken for granted.

More information on the subject is available from Duke University's School of Law, which sponsors a Center for the Study of the Public Domain. It makes for enlightening reading. Highly recommended.

[www.law.duke.edu]

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: fenrix (IP Logged)
Date: 13 July, 2012 12:00AM
I've tried contacting the estate for clarification and they're generally unresponsive. Any insight on which works of Clark Ashton Smith are and are not in the public domain?

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 July, 2012 04:33PM
Copyright, as I understand it, is further complicated by international considerations - I believe here in the UK literary copyright is as follows:

Quote:
70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies.
If the author is unknown, copyright will last for 70 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was created, although if it is made available to the public during that time, (by publication, authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.), then the duration will be 70 years from the end of the year that the work was first made available.

Which I believe has left a situation where several literary works are in effect lost in limbo as it is almost impossible to track down the estates of some literary copyrights as there is no renewal thus no database or register of works. I believe that if you can prove that you've made every effort to find the copyright holder of a work then you can probably get away with publishing it, although previsions for compensation, etc... should probably be made.

I'm not sure where international law fits into all this?!

As for the wider point, considering the liberties certain people (Arkham House) have taken by asserting control that they never really had over Lovecraft's work, I'm very sceptical of any claim or copyright symbol any publisher, editor or estate would make on any 'definitive' work of any author. There's such a thing as 'trying it on' you know!

Just out of interest who are CAS' estate (if this isn't broaching confidentiality or privacy)?

Re: CAS stories in Public Domain?
Posted by: fenrix (IP Logged)
Date: 23 July, 2012 07:53PM
I guess I should clarify my statement. I was working with the agent. Now that I have bypassed them and contacted the estate, we're getting some positive movement. I can probably share more once agreements have been finalized.



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