Too many damned books… (17-03)


• I spend something like 3 or 4 hours a week cruising eBay. If a person is a collection-builder, as I am, there is no better resource. You just have to keep your eyes open, know the market, and be ready to jump fast when you need to jump fast. Ebay is also very useful as a mechanism to steer a person to books. You search for “Debs” and all of the sudden here come a slew of titles in the result that you never would have thought applicable. Most aren’t. Some are. Anyway, this week two of the books that I was steered towards were Railroad Labor, the 5th annual report of US Commissioner of Labor Carroll D. Wright [1889] and A Momentous Question: The Respective Attitudes of Labor and Capital by John Swinton [1895]. On a whim I punched them up to check for them on my computerized book card catalog and — can you believe it?!? — I had them both already! (You know you’ve got too many damned books when you can’t remember what you own and already possess two esoteric titles like that!) The Swinton is a a real gem, essentially a book about the Pullman strike, with a whole slew of photos of the aftermath of the Chicago July 1894 rioting and a Debs-written article in the appendix and an article lionizing Debs by the AF of L’s Sam Gompers, who later became a bitter foe. The photo above from the Swinton is a picture of the remains of burned up boxcars — something like 600 box and coal cars were burned during the July Pullman riots.

The big news this week is the Papers of Eugene V. Debs microfilm arrived. Let’s just say I’m a super happy and a super busy guy right now… A three day typing frenzy commenced, resulting in something in the ballpark of 30,000 words. Bear in mind that the entire word budget is 275,000 per volume — so that’s a ton. Most interesting new find was an 1888 campaign speech FOR Grover Cleveland against Indiana Republican General Ben Harrison (who won). Professional stenogram — about 6,000 words just there. It’s fascinating as Debs biographical material, but is it worthy of inclusion? Those are the kind of questions we’ll be dealing with down the road. Here’s the link if you wanna take a look:

copyrightsymbol• One thing a person need to know doing a project like this is copyright law. Here are the rules in the USA… Published material, either text or photos, which was put into print before 1923 is automatically in the public domain and can be used without worries. Unpublished material, print or photos, remains the intellectual property of the producer, who is either the writer or the photographer, for a period of their lifetime plus 70 years after their death. This copyright is automatically passed on to heirs after death (although very few survivors are aware of this right and the threat of a lawsuit over use of such material is generally very small). Gene Debs died in 1926, so anything he ever wrote, published or not, became fair game for the world in 1996. Material published between 1923 and 1963 with no “© copyright 19XX” notice exhibited in the first publication of that material is also in the public domain and free to use (due to “no copyright notice in first publication”). If such notice was properly posted, copyright of these materials was initally for a period of 28 years. During year #28 (and only during year #28), copyright could be formally renewed with the Library of Congress, extending the period of protection to 75 years from date of publication — this being later automatically extended by Congressional idiots to 95 years. Most things, understandably, were not re-registered in Year 28. So anything that was not renewed has similarly gone into the public domain, to be used by anyone (owing to “copyright not renewed”). Stuff gets more complicated for post 1963 publications, and reuse of such material more prickly, but those rules are outside the scope of this project. Any questions?

94-debs-drawing-swinton-smWhich brings me to the litigious fucks at Getty Images, a really gross photo licensing bureau launched by oil company heir Mark Getty. The public-minded defenders of photographers’ rights at Getty Images implicitly pretend to own this image of young Gene Debs (See: < >). Actually, this drawing is scanned from John Swinton’s 1895 book, A Momentous Question, pg. 328. According to their website, Getty Images will graciously allow saps to license a poorly contrasted, muddy photograph of this image for a mere $575 (!!!). Now if you follow my paragraph on copyright law above you will note: this image was published in the USA before 1923 and is therefore in the public domain for free use by anyone. Three words for Getty Images: Greedy. Deceptive. Disgusting. They are the ASCAP of the graphic arts… They deserve the same treatment meted to the greedballs who meritlessly collected royalties on the “Good Morning to You”/”Happy Birthday to You” song for years and years and years.

Busy, busy, busy…

About carrite

Independent scholar from Corvallis, Oregon with a strong interest in early 20th century political history.
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