Carsten Agger on Fri, 15 Jan 2016 12:59:08 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> aaaaarg lawsuit digest #ANON

Den 14-01-2016 kl. 19:58 skrev

So you will keep and feed your own poet in your basement?

Or is he going to be paid by the enlightened government?

Or we'll just have to do with:

- the already existing poetry?
- bad poetry by Uber drivers written in their spare time?
- free propaganda poetry funded by various parties?

Pick one.

I don't know of any modern poet who is actually able to make a living from the sale of books in copyright. Poetry is the perennial example of an art which people are not in for the money.

And if we have a look of the really big poets, we'll find that normally, poetry was not the way they made their living, and if it was, the important factor was readings (like Dylan Thomas) rather than book sales.

Shelley bungled his way through a lot of debts, had practically no readers while he was alive and definitely didn't make a lot of money from his poetry.

Byron did make some money from book sales, but they didn't precisely finance his life style.

Yeats made money as a playwright rather than as a poet (if you can separate these things).

And given that, the American poet Judson Jerome seriously questioned whether restricting the circulation of one's poetry is really in the best interest of any poet.

As he said:

"Like patents, copyrights are intended to enable creators to profit from their work, and if what you write is likely to earn big profits, that may well concern you. Certainly it concerns commercial publishers: as I will explain later, copyrights are the mainstay of their business. But since a poet is likely to derive little income from his work at best, and none at all unless there is some public demand for his work, and since copyright limits circulation, I don't see why a poet should want it. I just pulled out of the wastebasket one of the dozens of privately printed first collections of poetry I receive each year. It bears this imposing notice:

Copyright 1976 by ____________________

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording, photocopying, offset, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author, except by reviewers who may quote brief passages to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.

The poor lady may have paid some lucky attorney to help her draw up that statement, but you may copy it for your own book if you please. It even keeps people from reading her poems over the telephone. I wonder what she hopes to protect herself from. In my view she would have done better to say, "I beg you to reproduce or transmit in any form or by any means ...". That way someone might hear of her or benefit from or enjoy what she has written. Someone might like her work and hire her to write something for money. Some commercial publisher might track her down and ask to bring out her next collection – if free circulation of this book created a demand. As it is, she could hardly have tied up her manuscript more securely by locking it in her trunk."

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