TeleRead brought me this story about a copy protected version of the US Constitution that’s now selling on Amazon. Among the restrictions: it can only be printed twice a year. For those who don’t understand the irony already, the US Constitution is in the public domain in so many ways it’s funny, yet a commercial publisher has created a version so locked up that it can’t be used and appreciated by all. Viz: at two prints a year, it would have taken seven years to distribute it to the original 13 colonies.
Here’s the deal: it a government document and most such items are in the public domain at the moment of creation. Second, it was published centuries ago, and so is no longer covered by the huge copyright extensions that cover most everything published in the last century. But, DRM (digital rights management), however, is a means to limit uses of material regardless of copyright.
Welcome to the digital world, there is no independence here. How’s this slogan? “No DRM without fair use guarantees.” It’s not quite as zippy as “no taxation without representation,” but we need something.
David Rothman at TeleRead reminds us that Project Gutenberg has both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence available for free download and has been working on building a library of free e-texts for over 30 years.