Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A sad state of affairs

Surprisingly my previous post on my Debconf trip has gathered more queries over its title than anything else.

Mostly my blog titles are, if I can manage it, relevant quotes or book titles. For the last post I used the title of a collection of Mark Twain scripts surrounding his trip through Nicaragua in 1866.

I have not been able to read the publication myself beyond the quoted excerpts in more modern articles because, somehow, almost 150 years after the words were written the only access to these words is to buy a very expensive and rare 1940 publication.

This appears to stem from the fact the original Clements scripts were simply not published before 1940 and hence appear to gain copyright from that date (IANAL I might be wrong here is the source I used) and thanks to the US government effectively making copyrighted works published after 1922 be "protected" forever I may never read it at all.

Rather sad really, but if you do have a copy I could borrow...oh no that is probably illegal too? better just let the words fade to dust eh?


  1. Gutenberg Australia has this:

    which includes the letters to the Alta California quoted in that NYT article.

    Gutenberg US has all his letters, though I couldn't locate the quote.

    1. Ahh I only searched the US Gutenberg so missed it.

      Thankyou! I can indeed read the relevant letters on the Australian site.

  2. I don't see you mentioning a library as an option to read it, while it seems that while they are not in every locality, there's copies of the book available around the world:

  3. oh excellent, what a useful service.

    Alas the only UK copies seem to be in the central British library and the Cambridge and Oxford university libraries.

    None of these establishments are public access. But the idea was good and I learnt about a useful site ;-)

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